10 Things No One Tells You About Private Clubs | Golden Rules Gal

Category: Private Club Etiquette

My husband at the Royal Automobile Club, St. James, London on Easter Sunday. On weekends, some clubs have a relaxed dress code, as in no tie.

Invited to lunch, dinner, or a party at a private club? Enjoy the opportunity, and when in doubt, follow these guidelines. We enjoyed the privilege of a few clubs on our most recent visit to the United Kingdom, and…we followed the rules:

1. Dress the part. Although dress codes will vary, it’s better to be overdressed than underdressed. Older private clubs tend to require more formal dress, such as suits and ties for men. When in doubt, check with the club or your host before your visit. Our host on our recent trip to London, Pamela Harper, Chairman and CEO of Halcyon Days and a private club member, offers up this advice. “It’s all about the dress code. Go with the flow and you will sink back into an environment where people will look after you with all the charm of days gone by. Gentlemen guests who may fall foul of the strict dress codes may well be able to borrow a jacket and tie from ‘ the stock “ but no club carries trousers to sub for jeans. Ladies should enjoy dressing up and being pampered by effortless staff.”

2. State your name. Announce yourself when you arrive so you can be directed to your host. The same goes for the host if it’s a large club and members are not individually known.

3. Don’t order any extras. Fries may be on the menu, but in some older clubs, the menu may also have been pre-chosen. Let your host be your guide.

4. Don’t tip. Older private clubs have a blanket policy of no cash exchange on the premises, while more modern ones will exchange cash. Again, check with your host.

5. Arrive on time. This means be early if it’s your first visit.

6. Forget the host/hostess gift. No gift is necessary. If you really want to give a gift, send it to you host so it doesn’t have to be carried home from the club.

7. Stay in line, not out of line. Don’t wander the club without your host.

8. Reciprocate the offer. Even if you’re not a member of a private club, you can invite your host to lunch or dinner.

9. Be a gracious guest. Say thank you, and send a hand-written note within twenty-four hours.

10. Ask for a letter of introduction. If you are a member of a private club and want to stay at one that shares overnight-guest privileges with your club, you may need to have your club write a letter of introduction to the sister club. Plan ahead.