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The interior of the Jonathan Beach Club in Los Angeles. There are tables, chairs, a wood ceiling and floor to ceiling windows with a view of a beach.
The Jonathan Beach Club’s recently redone interiors overlook the beach.
Courtesy of Studio Collective

A map guide to LA’s most fascinating private clubs

Hobnob with the fancy people

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The Jonathan Beach Club’s recently redone interiors overlook the beach.
| Courtesy of Studio Collective

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in April 2014. It has been updated throughout with the latest information.

According to LA Confidential, there’s an old adage that goes, “The people who run Los Angeles belong to The Jonathan Club; the people who own Los Angeles belong to The California Club.”

These venerable, intimidating Downtown institutions were never the only clubs in town, but maybe it was that apparent binary that inspired LA’s huge proliferation of private, members-only societies.

Today, there’s a club for elites of nearly every stripe: globe-trekkers, athletes, magicians. These clubs remain close-knit, and you still need the endorsement of active members to join, of course. Many of these clubs function not only as a physical place to have meetings with people you’d like to impress, but as an “in” to a much larger network of national and international exclusivity.

Despite a brief decline, it seems that members-only clubs are once again starting to appeal to young, professional Angelenos—just look at the rising popularity of places like the British transplant Arts Club and the forthcoming Arts District location of Soho House. (In some cases, coworking spaces are rising to the levels of social clubs of yore.)

For those who might not be able to gain entry into these under-the-radar societies, we’ve mapped some of Los Angeles’s most interesting exclusive clubs, from the Adventurers’ Club to the Magic Castle.

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1. The California Club

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538 S Flower St
Los Angeles, CA 90071
(213) 622-1391
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The California Club: a seriously handsome historical landmark and a seriously intimidating Downtown institution.

Founded in 1888, the club, designed by architect Robert Farquhar, has counted former mayor Richard Riordan, journalist Charles Fletcher Lummis, and real estate developer H. Gaylord Wilshire (that’s right, THAT Wilshire) among its members. It did not count minorities or women among its members until 1987.

2. The Jonathan Club

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545 S Figueroa St
Los Angeles, CA 90071

Established as a social club in 1895, the Jonathan Club spent a lot of time combating its long and stuffy history. It underwent a hip makeover in 2013 and relaxed its dress code in the hope of attracting a younger crowd. (Since 1987, it also allows non-white-male members.) Henry E. Huntington, the railroad magnate, was a member.

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3. The Jonathan Beach Club

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850 Palisades Beach Rd
Santa Monica, CA 90403

Since 1927, Jonathans have had access to this imposing, ivy-covered private beach club, ”cradled in the rolling bluffs” along the shore. Access to the beach club costs a little bit more, but it’s probably worth it. The club’s interiors were recently redone by Studio Collective.

The interior of the Jonathan Beach Club in Santa Monica, California. There are tables, chairs, a bar, and floor to ceiling windows that overlook a beach. - Courtesy of Studio Collective

4. City Club LA

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555 S Flower St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Younger than the exclusive Jonathan and California clubs, the City Club (51 stories up!) has a fairly loose policy about jeans-wearing and once proudly described itself as “a little United Nations.” It also offers discounts for members under 30.

5. Wilfandel Club

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3425 W Adams Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90018

Wilfandel, founded in 1945, is the oldest black women’s club in Los Angeles, and was once a ”hub of high society” known for its high-class parties and equally high-class guest lists. It’s housed in the stately Wilfandel House, built in 1922 by silent film star Ramon Novarro as a home for his brother. The club requires new members to be highly civic-minded and to get approval from two active members.

6. The Adventurers’ Club

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2433 N Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90031

Founded in 1921, this club is connected to a worldwide network of adventurous fellows that has carried on the traditions of the first group of “soldiers, sailors, hunters, trappers, travelers, journalists, authors and scientists” who started the group.

Women are not allowed, except on special occasions, but those do include some of the best lectures, like the upcoming “Storm Chasing and Image Mastery.”

7. Women’s Twentieth Century Club

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5105 Hermosa Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90041

Founded in 1903, the Women’s Twentieth Century Club reportedly “applied for a Carnegie Grant to establish our first library”—now the Center for the Arts in Eagle Rock—“and also began the origins of the Eagle Rock Valley Historical Society.” The civic-minded ladies organization has dues of only $40.

The exterior of the Women’s Twentieth Century Club in Los Angeles. The facade is brown with a red staircase in front. Courtesy of Dreamyshade/Creative Commons

8. Los Angeles Athletic Club

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431 W 7th St
Los Angeles, CA 90014

Founded in 1880, the LAAC has adapted to the new influx of young, moneyed folk in Downtown, and, per a 2011 LA Times write-up, seems to be “gaining traction with up-and-comers attracted by the combination of gym facilities and ‘Mad Men’-style retro chic” and who still see the other Downtown clubs as out of their price range.

The club’s facilities include a pool; basketball, handball, and squash courts; and boutique hotel rooms. Famous members include Charlie Chaplin, Colonel James B. Lankershim, and Esther Williams.

9. The Magic Castle

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The Magic Castle, 7001 Franklin Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90028

Are you a magician? Do you know a magician? No? Then get out. This mansion on Franklin is the home of the Academy of Magical Arts, and is an exclusive club by and for practitioners of magic and their guests.

With an invite from a member, non-magicians can attend a magical brunch or dinner inside this magnificent Victorian lair. You really haven’t lived until you’ve had a mimosa and an omelette followed by a heavy dose of close-up card tricks.

10. Soho House

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9200 Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069

Opened in 2010, the West Hollywood “house” of the London-based chain has been so successful, it’s planning to open a second LA location in the Arts District (though it’s a bit behind schedule). Membership dues for this location are estimated to be around $1,800.

11. Soho Warehouse

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1000 S Santa Fe Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90021

Soho Warehouse is the future Downtown LA outpost of the members-only club Soho House, which has locations worldwide, including those in West Hollywood and Malibu. Originally planned to open in 2016, the current projection is that the renovated warehouse will open sometime this year.

Once complete, the Warehouse will hold a “public market” with a restaurant and bar on the ground floor, 16 hotel rooms, a gym, a bar, a restaurant, a rooftop pool, and a screening room.

12. The Little Beach House Malibu

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22716 Pacific Coast Hwy
Malibu, CA 90265

This Soho House by the sea resides in the former Nikita restaurant space right on the ocean in Malibu. Opened in 2016, this club location has an added layer of exclusivity: LA club members who have already paid for membership that allows them access to all club branches have to apply for a new, separate membership for the Malibu club by “proving the legitimacy of their connection to Malibu.”

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13. h. Club LA

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1717 Vine St
Los Angeles, CA 90028

This club taking over the former Redbury Hotel in Hollywood is a transplant from England. The club aimed at creatives will include a traditional English tea room, a rooftop restaurant, a pool, a co-working space, and 36 hotel-style bedrooms available to both club members and the public. It’s planned to open in early 2019, a representative for the club tells Curbed.

A rendering of h clue los angeles, which will take over the former Redbury Hotel. Courtesy of h.Club LA

14. Arts Club

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8920 Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069

Another British import, this location of the Arts Club is backed by Gwyneth Paltrow and her business partner. The classy and slightly prudish establishment—swearing is strictly forbidden—would replace a West Hollywood commercial building that houses the Sunset Strip Hustler store. The club would be housed in a nine-story structure with retail and creative office space occupying the lower levels.

Club amenities will include private restaurants, bars, and lounges; a supper club; a pool; screening rooms; a fitness center and spa; and 15 guest rooms for members of the club. The Arts Club is expected to open in 2020.

Rendering of Sunset Strip Arts Club in Los Angeles. There is a swimming pool on the roof. City of West Hollywood

15. Bel-Air Bay Club

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16801 Pacific Coast Hwy
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

Founded by Alphonzo Edward Bell Sr. (the namesake of Bel Air, and developer of both the Bay Club and the Bel Air Country Club), this club officially opened in 1927. Raymond Chandler supposedly hammered out his classic Farewell, My Lovely here; he used it as inspiration for the Belvedere Beach Club in the novel.

16. Balboa Bay Club

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1221 West Coast Hwy
Newport Beach, CA 92663

Since its founding in 1948, Balboa Bay was a magnet for Hollywood’s big names—John Wayne, Robert Wagner, Natalie Wood—and Nixon and John F. Kennedy held rallies here while campaigning.

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1. The California Club

538 S Flower St, Los Angeles, CA 90071

The California Club: a seriously handsome historical landmark and a seriously intimidating Downtown institution.

Founded in 1888, the club, designed by architect Robert Farquhar, has counted former mayor Richard Riordan, journalist Charles Fletcher Lummis, and real estate developer H. Gaylord Wilshire (that’s right, THAT Wilshire) among its members. It did not count minorities or women among its members until 1987.

538 S Flower St
Los Angeles, CA 90071

2. The Jonathan Club

545 S Figueroa St, Los Angeles, CA 90071

Established as a social club in 1895, the Jonathan Club spent a lot of time combating its long and stuffy history. It underwent a hip makeover in 2013 and relaxed its dress code in the hope of attracting a younger crowd. (Since 1987, it also allows non-white-male members.) Henry E. Huntington, the railroad magnate, was a member.

545 S Figueroa St
Los Angeles, CA 90071

3. The Jonathan Beach Club

850 Palisades Beach Rd, Santa Monica, CA 90403
The interior of the Jonathan Beach Club in Santa Monica, California. There are tables, chairs, a bar, and floor to ceiling windows that overlook a beach. - Courtesy of Studio Collective

Since 1927, Jonathans have had access to this imposing, ivy-covered private beach club, ”cradled in the rolling bluffs” along the shore. Access to the beach club costs a little bit more, but it’s probably worth it. The club’s interiors were recently redone by Studio Collective.

850 Palisades Beach Rd
Santa Monica, CA 90403

4. City Club LA

555 S Flower St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

Younger than the exclusive Jonathan and California clubs, the City Club (51 stories up!) has a fairly loose policy about jeans-wearing and once proudly described itself as “a little United Nations.” It also offers discounts for members under 30.

555 S Flower St
Los Angeles, CA 90012

5. Wilfandel Club

3425 W Adams Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90018

Wilfandel, founded in 1945, is the oldest black women’s club in Los Angeles, and was once a ”hub of high society” known for its high-class parties and equally high-class guest lists. It’s housed in the stately Wilfandel House, built in 1922 by silent film star Ramon Novarro as a home for his brother. The club requires new members to be highly civic-minded and to get approval from two active members.

3425 W Adams Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90018

6. The Adventurers’ Club

2433 N Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90031

Founded in 1921, this club is connected to a worldwide network of adventurous fellows that has carried on the traditions of the first group of “soldiers, sailors, hunters, trappers, travelers, journalists, authors and scientists” who started the group.

Women are not allowed, except on special occasions, but those do include some of the best lectures, like the upcoming “Storm Chasing and Image Mastery.”

2433 N Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90031

7. Women’s Twentieth Century Club

5105 Hermosa Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90041
The exterior of the Women’s Twentieth Century Club in Los Angeles. The facade is brown with a red staircase in front. Courtesy of Dreamyshade/Creative Commons

Founded in 1903, the Women’s Twentieth Century Club reportedly “applied for a Carnegie Grant to establish our first library”—now the Center for the Arts in Eagle Rock—“and also began the origins of the Eagle Rock Valley Historical Society.” The civic-minded ladies organization has dues of only $40.

5105 Hermosa Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90041

8. Los Angeles Athletic Club

431 W 7th St, Los Angeles, CA 90014

Founded in 1880, the LAAC has adapted to the new influx of young, moneyed folk in Downtown, and, per a 2011 LA Times write-up, seems to be “gaining traction with up-and-comers attracted by the combination of gym facilities and ‘Mad Men’-style retro chic” and who still see the other Downtown clubs as out of their price range.

The club’s facilities include a pool; basketball, handball, and squash courts; and boutique hotel rooms. Famous members include Charlie Chaplin, Colonel James B. Lankershim, and Esther Williams.

431 W 7th St
Los Angeles, CA 90014

9. The Magic Castle

The Magic Castle, 7001 Franklin Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028

Are you a magician? Do you know a magician? No? Then get out. This mansion on Franklin is the home of the Academy of Magical Arts, and is an exclusive club by and for practitioners of magic and their guests.

With an invite from a member, non-magicians can attend a magical brunch or dinner inside this magnificent Victorian lair. You really haven’t lived until you’ve had a mimosa and an omelette followed by a heavy dose of close-up card tricks.

The Magic Castle, 7001 Franklin Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90028

10. Soho House

9200 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069

Opened in 2010, the West Hollywood “house” of the London-based chain has been so successful, it’s planning to open a second LA location in the Arts District (though it’s a bit behind schedule). Membership dues for this location are estimated to be around $1,800.

9200 Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069

11. Soho Warehouse

1000 S Santa Fe Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90021

Soho Warehouse is the future Downtown LA outpost of the members-only club Soho House, which has locations worldwide, including those in West Hollywood and Malibu. Originally planned to open in 2016, the current projection is that the renovated warehouse will open sometime this year.

Once complete, the Warehouse will hold a “public market” with a restaurant and bar on the ground floor, 16 hotel rooms, a gym, a bar, a restaurant, a rooftop pool, and a screening room.

1000 S Santa Fe Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90021

12. The Little Beach House Malibu

22716 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265

This Soho House by the sea resides in the former Nikita restaurant space right on the ocean in Malibu. Opened in 2016, this club location has an added layer of exclusivity: LA club members who have already paid for membership that allows them access to all club branches have to apply for a new, separate membership for the Malibu club by “proving the legitimacy of their connection to Malibu.”

22716 Pacific Coast Hwy
Malibu, CA 90265

13. h. Club LA

1717 Vine St, Los Angeles, CA 90028
A rendering of h clue los angeles, which will take over the former Redbury Hotel. Courtesy of h.Club LA

This club taking over the former Redbury Hotel in Hollywood is a transplant from England. The club aimed at creatives will include a traditional English tea room, a rooftop restaurant, a pool, a co-working space, and 36 hotel-style bedrooms available to both club members and the public. It’s planned to open in early 2019, a representative for the club tells Curbed.

1717 Vine St
Los Angeles, CA 90028

14. Arts Club

8920 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069
Rendering of Sunset Strip Arts Club in Los Angeles. There is a swimming pool on the roof. City of West Hollywood

Another British import, this location of the Arts Club is backed by Gwyneth Paltrow and her business partner. The classy and slightly prudish establishment—swearing is strictly forbidden—would replace a West Hollywood commercial building that houses the Sunset Strip Hustler store. The club would be housed in a nine-story structure with retail and creative office space occupying the lower levels.

Club amenities will include private restaurants, bars, and lounges; a supper club; a pool; screening rooms; a fitness center and spa; and 15 guest rooms for members of the club. The Arts Club is expected to open in 2020.

8920 Sunset Blvd
West Hollywood, CA 90069

15. Bel-Air Bay Club

16801 Pacific Coast Hwy, Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

Founded by Alphonzo Edward Bell Sr. (the namesake of Bel Air, and developer of both the Bay Club and the Bel Air Country Club), this club officially opened in 1927. Raymond Chandler supposedly hammered out his classic Farewell, My Lovely here; he used it as inspiration for the Belvedere Beach Club in the novel.

16801 Pacific Coast Hwy
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272

16. Balboa Bay Club

1221 West Coast Hwy, Newport Beach, CA 92663

Since its founding in 1948, Balboa Bay was a magnet for Hollywood’s big names—John Wayne, Robert Wagner, Natalie Wood—and Nixon and John F. Kennedy held rallies here while campaigning.

1221 West Coast Hwy
Newport Beach, CA 92663