Private members’ clubs have been around since the 1700s, originating in London and generally following the stereotype of being men-only and—quite honestly—a bit (ok, a lot) stuffy. When the member club concept later made its way to the US, most were affiliated with the country’s top universities: the Yale Club, the Harvard Club, the Penn Club, and so on.
But that all changed in 1995, when the very first Soho House opened in a historic Georgian townhouse at 40 Greek Street in London’s Soho neighborhood. Soho House founder Nick Jones had been offered the space above his restaurant, Café Boheme, and the rest was history. Once open, the club served simple British food and had a variety of lounge-y areas for guests to hang out in along with a cozy event space. The concept was simple—to bring together the diverse crowd of mostly artists and actors so that they could “connect, grow, have fun and make an impact”—and it was an immediate success.
“Soho House started 26 years ago when we opened 40 Greek Street in Soho, London,” Nick Jones told GRAZIA Gazette: Los Angeles. “There were members clubs in London, but they were gentlemen only: suits and totally male-orientated. It wasn’t where I wanted to hang out. We wanted to create a home away from home for the local artists and actors who were in Soho at the time and luckily, people were interested.”
Now under the umbrella of Membership Collective Group, of which Jones serves as CEO, Soho House has grown from a single location in London to a global network with thirty Soho Houses, nine Soho Works co-working spaces, The Ned in London, Scorpios Beach Club in Mykonos, a lifestyle retail brand, Soho Home, a handful of Cecconi’s restaurants and Cowshed Spa, as well as the LINE and Saguaro hotels in North America. At this point, there is a Soho House footprint in most major cities across the globe; and, if there isn’t yet, there likely will be soon.
“I never expected Soho House to be where it is today, but our members are still the same: nice, kind people with creative souls,” Jones continued. “We aim to create a space where everyone can flourish: A struggling scriptwriter can be sitting next to a successful playwright in our Houses. Our members inspire everything we do; they drive our growth at Soho House and we’re constantly working on ways to make things better for them.”
Since the founding of Soho House, there has been a proliferation of private clubs geared to different specific interests: the Core Club for the power suit set, the now-defunct Wing, which was a women-only concept, and The Well, perfect for those searching for premiere wellness services. Across the pond in London, Annabel’s continues to draw an A-list crowd, and Zero Bond and Casa Cipriani, both located downtown NYC, have recently become two of the city’s hottest spots—and most exclusive invitations.
But despite the fierce competition—and setbacks due to COVID-19 lockdowns—Soho House has not only survived but thrived. Just last month, Art Basel Miami returned to the Sunshine State, and Soho Beach House played host to some of the fest’s most exciting events. Located in a restored Art Deco building on Collins Avenue and tucked away behind lush foliage, the House—a personal favorite—truly has that home-away-from-home vibe and is a meeting place for the city’s creatives, especially during the Art Basel events. On the ground floor is an outpost of Cecconi’s restaurant along with a bustling lobby lounge; out back, there is a chic pool area complete with extra wide—and comfy!—striped cushioned loungers and a delicious poolside fare. For those who prefer the sand, a private beach is just steps away. The House also features a Cowshed spa, fitness center, and 49 guest rooms for those who want to stay.
During Basel 2021, Soho Beach House served as an unofficial clubhouse for the artists, curators, collectors, aspiring collectors and those just looking to have a little fun. For their members and guests, Soho Beach House offered a robust line-up of events, including an interactive NFT exhibit, talks on sustainable artistry, futuristic beach light installations, and DJ sets from Carl Craig, Roger Sanchez, and DZA. The dynamic Beach Tent returned for the tenth year, and famed funk musician George Clinton was on hand to celebrate his “Funkbasel” art exhibition.
“Art is a really important part of Soho House, our artist members, the art in our spaces—it makes our Houses come alive,” explained Jones. “Basel has always been a very special moment for us in Miami. We’ve had some great times there, and I’m excited to be back.”
In 2021, the brand opened additional locations in Austin, Rome, Paris, Tel Aviv, and Canouan, a small Caribbean island in St. Vincent and Grenadines, accessible by plane or boat; a fourth LA-based location, Holloway House in West Hollywood, is set to debut at the beginning of 2022, followed by a Nashville location.
“I’ve just been to Rome, where we opened our newest House in a 10-story building in San Lorenzo,” Jones shared. “It’s not tourist Rome; it’s where Romans live and socialize, and it’s given us space, and an incredible rooftop: views of the Vatican from one side, and mountains from the other. Soho House Rome has everything under one roof. You can go to the gym, swim in the pool, watch a film, eat, drink, see friends or take a meeting.” Not ready to leave after a special stay? You don’t have to. “We also have apartments so members can stay with us for longer,” Jones said. “Rome is something members have been asking for, so it’s exciting to see it come to life.”
Next up will be the March 2022 opening of Holloway House in West Hollywood. Hidden away from the busy streets and located on Holloway Drive close to the nearby West Hollywood club, the latest Los Angeles property will feature a rooftop with views of the Hollywood Hills and glimpses of Downtown as well as light-filled courtyard bar, a House Studio space where members can connect and collaborate, a Club Lounge, and a new restaurant.
The first LA House available for overnight stays, Holloway House West Hollywood will offer 34 bedrooms decorated in dusty tones overlooking the courtyard, landscaped with flora native to Southern California.
“We’re excited about West Hollywood,” said Jones. “It has always been a special place for Soho House. We hosted pop-ups in awards season for years before we opened our House at 9200 Sunset Boulevard in 2010.”
That said, locating the perfect spot for the newest Los Angeles outpost was a daunting task.
“People have always asked for a place to stay with us while in WeHo, but we needed to find the right space that would complement our existing WeHo location,” explained Jones. “The majority of our members are Every House members, which gives them access to 33 of our houses globally and they love traveling and visiting new houses in different cities. We’re excited to offer Holloway House West Hollywood as a new destination. Holloway House West Hollywood has a more intimate feel with rooftop views, and it’s hidden off the main street. It just felt like the perfect space for a Soho House.”
See you there.