Jet-Set Bohemian: Members-Only Club Movement

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Jet-Set Bohemian: Members-Only Club Movement

A jet-set lifestyle doesn’t have to be all private planes and decadent digs. In our Jet-Set Bohemian series, we blend the best of high and low for just the right balance … enticing everyone from backpackers to luxury boutique hotel lovers to come along for the ride.

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Last spring, just before the Monaco Grand Prix, I started hearing whispers about a new fitness club opening up in Monte-Carlo. In a principality known more for private trainers than private gyms, this was news. Not only would it be one of Monaco’s largest, spanning 20,000 square feet, it would also be one of the world’s most exclusive. Before it even opened, membership at THIRTY NINE (which costs a cool 4,900 euros a year) was already in high demand and while anyone could apply, you still had to be deemed worthy enough to join.

London kick-started the members-only trend centuries ago in the late-1800s with gentlemen’s clubs in the city’s West End catering to the British elite. While the concept has evolved and spread since then, one element remains the same: these spots serve as a home-away-from-home for members. Now, though, private clubs focus more on attracting a certain social circle, whether it’s the art crowd or a more fitness-inspired scene.

Former rugby pro and founder of THIRTY NINE, Ross Beattie, wanted his club to be just as sexy for socializing as it is for staying in shape, tailoring the space to act as a hotel sans rooms. In addition to an 8,000-square-foot fitness suite stocked with state-of-the-art equipment and trainers with backgrounds as models and ballerinas, you’ll also find “living spaces” like a cigar terrace and bar, with seating styled after an Aston Martin grill (a nod to the Monégasque lifestyle). There’s also a haute dining concept in the form of an Italian eatery run by Michelin-starred master chef Tiziano Rossetti and nutritionist Matt Lovell, who advised UK athletes during the Olympics. So not only can members start the day on a healthy note with cold pressed juices and protein pancakes, they can end the day as decadent as they like, opting for dishes like deep-fried pumpkin and Parmesan fondue or veal fillet Rossini served alongside wine hand-picked from the cellar.

While THIRTY NINE offers up everything you’d need for a mental and physical escape, Soho House, which started in London’s Soho in 1995, is not only a members’ club for the film and fashion set, it also features a hotel component. Each of the 18 properties embodies a different feel depending on their locale, from East London’s Shoreditch House, which spans the top two floors of a former tea warehouse, to Soho House Istanbul, set in the 19th century Palazzo Corpi in Beyo?lu—fitting since it’s seen as the city’s version of Soho. Membership takes on a few forms (and requires friendship with two current members), from access to your local house to international memberships granting entry to any of the clubs around the globe.

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Anyone can book rooms at the hotel, but only members (and their guests) can access the club bar, workspaces and lounges. In Miami, that means entry to the beach club and eighth floor rooftop taqueria and plunge pool, as well as all-day drinks at the 1940s Cuba-inspired Club Bar. In Berlin, meanwhile, you can work from a rooftop perch in the stylish Mitte neighborhood, pausing for a dip in the year-round heated pool or for a bite at the Mandolin Mitte Roof restaurant, Berlin’s outpost of the >Miami-based Greek bistro,

Soho House’s clubs are scattered along beaches and cities throughout Europe and North America, but one of its most talked about ventures is the English countryside Soho Farmhouse tucked away on 100 acres of farmland in the Cotswolds. Forty cabins are spread throughout the farm, ranging from the original seven-bedroom Farm House to the three-bedroom lakeside cabin. The farm also comes complete with a glamping element, with bell tents outfitted with a wood-burning stove, six-foot bed and pair of armchairs.

For members, it’s hard to get any more country chic. The rustic, wood-lined Boathouse’s outdoor infinity pool sits alongside the lake and connects to an indoor heated pool, with a steam room and sauna sitting below in the basement. The kitchen garden is also there for more than just looks, with seasonal produce that’s sold in the farm shop and deli. Want to try your hand at farm-to-table cooking? You can learn how to weave these ingredients into your own kitchen creations with both local and international chefs leading culinary courses in the Cookhouse.

In April, Soho House’s newest project will debut in London’s city center. The group has teamed up with US-based Sydell Group (behind hip hotels like NYC’s The NoMad and Freehand Miami & Chicago) to launch The Ned, a buzzy 252-room hotel and members’ club housed in the former Midland Bank, the world’s largest clearing house bank when it opened in the 1920s. Members will have some of the best views of London and St Paul’s Cathedral from the Club Upstairs, with its private heated pool, glass roof-encased Canopy Bar & restaurant, and two Dome bars flanking either side of the terrace. Head down to the basement and you’ll come across another bar taking over a transformed bank vault, serving up classic cocktails with a backdrop of original stainless steel safety deposit boxes in a true speakeasy-style hideaway.

Lane Nieset is Paste’s Jet-Set Bohemian columnist and a freelance writer covering all things travel from her home base in Nice, France.

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