It's Better To Belong

Members' clubs have long been synonymous with cigars and old money. But over the past few years a new, hipper crop has emerged that welcomes women and seduces members with champagne, celebrities and late-night extravagance. Should you join? A survey of what to expect:

Soho House, New York and London: This eight-year-old London club just opened its first Manhattan outpost, and owner Nick Jones hopes to eventually expand to Miami, Los Angeles and Paris. Members are mostly film and media types--"like-minded people," he says. Hotel rooms in New York come with Boffi bathtubs at the foot of each bed--because "bathing should be a social experience rather than a necessity"--as well as private steam rooms. Registration fee: $200 (U.S.), 200 pounds (U.K.). Annual fee: $900 (U.S.), 400 pounds (U.K.); all applicants must be nominated by two members and approved by a committee.

Home House, London: Using the 1776 party palace of Countess Elizabeth of Home, Home House, opened in 1999, takes the traditional British club and gives it a modern twist. Richard Hollis, a CEO in his --late 40s, uses Home to meet young business associates and swap tips on vintage Rollses with old friends."It's trendy, but not too trendy," he says. Registration fee: 1,500 pounds. Annual fee: 1,500 pounds. Overseas and under-30 members: 750 pounds. By referral only.

The Met Bar, London: There's no membership fee, so getting into Park Lane's red, black and silver club is all about who you are. Supernova stars from David Bowie to Alexander McQueen have thrown bashes here, and if you're one of a select 500 to possess a golden membership card, you're (usually) on the automatic-invite list. By referral only.

Entriga, London: Some clubs are so modern they don't even have clubhouses. Entriga ditched its HQ in favor of roving members-only events. "They take care of everything social for me," says member Nico Giovando, the director of an online betting site. "If I want a good reservation to a top club or booked-out restaurant, I call them and they can get it." Registration fee: 300 pounds. Annual fee: 1,500 pounds. By referral only.

The Kee Club, Hong Kong: Above one of the territory's most famous goose restaurants, the Kee Club has eclectic but tasteful decor: a Le Corbusier love seat here, a piece of African art there. Members can enroll in cooking classes or attend exclusive film screenings at the club. Registration fee: $2,500 to $10,000. Monthly rate: $75 or $150. By invitation only.

The Tower Club, Manila: One of the most prestigious clubs in status-obsessed Manila, the Tower Club, located on the 33d floor of a new skyscraper, attracts a mix of top businessmen, politicians and hipsters. There's a gym that offers massages and restaurants that serve Chinese and Western cuisine. But the real perk seems to be safety: guards with firearms and live ammunition patrol the lobby downstairs and sniffer dogs check for explosives. Says Andrew Gan, a fortysomething private banker, "I use the club a lot for meetings with clients. The security is good, so you don't have to worry about kidnapping and stuff like that." Registration: $7,300; monthly fee: $76.

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