For better or worse, Hong Kong has a long tradition of having swanky places where esoteric groups people can hang out. You can be swanky too as long as you meet a very specific set of criteria – the common denominator generally being a healthy bank account.
Unfortunately that rules us out but that doesn't mean we can't enviously look on and list the best – which in the context of this article really means most famous – members' clubs.
Hong Kong's best members' clubs
With its red-carpeted stairs and marble floor, its swimming pools, ice-skating rink and boat berths, the Aberdeen Marina Club is the playground for the city’s super rich. Membership fees are eye-wateringly high, costing upwards of $3 million a year, but merely a drop in the ocean for some of these luxury boat owners.
Despite being a more recent opening, established in 1989, The Dynasty Club has quickly become one of Hong Kong’s most prestigious members-only institutions. Located in Wan Chai, the oriental vibe radiates old-school Chinese glamour. With a comprehensive selection of facilities, including swimming pools, tennis courts and a golf range, it’s no surprise the club has been attracting elite members since its inception.
With a testosterone heavy, ‘gentlemen only’ ambience, members must have a connection to a banking or a financial institution to join, though associate membership is open to a much broader range. Inside is a collection of restaurants and a bar, alongside private meeting rooms, conference rooms and a newspaper room. Sounds a little lacking? This is, after all, more about who the other members are than what’s on offer.
One of the most renowned press clubs in the world, the FCC has been the go-to place for journalists to congregate, work and play since the war-torn 1940s. It was initially situated in Shanghai before moving to Hong Kong in 1949 following the Chinese Communist Revolution. Now in its prime location at the top of Ice House Street, the club still boasts a booming social scene and regularly hosts speakers and events.
Known simply as ‘The Club’, this was the first of its kind in Hong Kong. Inaugurated in 1846, originally as a Taipans’ Club for the eight colonial gentlemen that ruled the city, it later extended membership to government officials and the heads of other trading firms, giving it its elite reputation. Its current 25-storey building on Jackson Road features extensive facilities, including a squash court, bowling alley and library.
With over 160 years of sporting history, the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club is one of the oldest sporting institutions in the city. It resides on Kellet Island in Causeway Bay (which ceased being an island on completion of the Cross-Harbour Tunnel), on the foundations of an old naval powder magazine. Though membership is selective, its sailing and paddling lessons are open to the public.
Sir David Tang conjures up thoughts of old Shanghai’s Jazz Age glory days with his art-heavy, retro-chic China Club on the top three floors of the Bank of China Building. Despite being a member’s club, it’s possible to book a table for dinner at the restaurant as a visitor. You’ll want to dress to impress though, as it has a strict dress code, so forget the flip-flops and shorts.
This club is unashamedly all-American. But aside from its distinctive atmosphere, it’s also divided into two locations – the Town Club in Central and the Country Club in Tai Tam – providing it the largest square footage of a single club. Full membership is exclusive to US citizens residing in Hong Kong and has a long waiting list.
Okay, so this one might not qualify as exclusive, but it’s certainly one of the most important platforms for art in Hong Kong. Since 1984 it’s hosted thousands of exhibitions, live-music shows and stage performances, bringing a welcome slice of creativity to the city’s central business district. The Fringe Club inhabits a Victorian era curved, blood and bandages-style building that remains an iconic and culturally relevant monument in Hong Kong. Emma Russell