Born from Britain’s upper classes, private members clubs have largely shed their haughty elitism thanks to a new wave of elegant haunts that offer sanctuary without prejudice — so long as you can afford the membership. Soho House may be the brand that launched a thousand imitators, but it’s also the one that has perfected the formula, mushrooming in recent years with outposts from London to Los Angeles, Barcelona to Istanbul.
As a haven from the urban grind, rival clubs such as London’s Hospital Club (TheHospitalClub.com), situated in a beautifully restored institution just a stone’s throw from Covent Garden (and featuring stylish hotel rooms on the upper floor),are hard to beat. There’s also the freshly minted South Kensington Club (SouthKensingtonClub.com), which houses an elaborate spa and sauna in the basement.
Not about to rest on its laurels, Soho House is going one better by extending its reach from the city to the country. Having already perfected the concept with its Downton-esque Babington House (BabingtonHouse.co.uk) in Somerset, the brand is now going more agrarian still with a 100-acre farm estate, Soho Farmhouse (SohoFarmhouse.com), in the lush landscape of Oxfordshire. Furnished with wood-burning stoves and reclaimed timber, the estate features 40 cabins set alongside a lake and stream. In keeping with the farm theme, there are beehives for estate-harvested honey, a cheese room for making fresh cheeses and yogurt, and even a pickling room. And just in case you find yourself unexpectedly pining for the city you left behind, you can always catch up on a movie in the cinema. It’s proof that while you can take Soho House out of the city, you can’t entirely take the city out of Soho House.