The 2020 Legend Awards are meant to serve as inspiration for future travel—when it is safe to do so. Learn more about this year's awards on our methodology page.
Invitation only. What is it about those words that hook us right away? The allure of a referral-only club or an organization that needs to invite you to apply just seems to radiate gravitas. Exclusive clubs just seem to offer an intangible element of intrigue that even the hottest new bars or restaurants can’t lay claim to. Not only are we honoring private clubs this year, we’re honoring membership-based private styling and travel curation services. Most of these memberships—whether to an exclusive shopping service, travel booking agent, or social club—come with a high initiation fee or annual price tag. However, others don’t have a fee at all, and are simply reserved for in-the-know brand loyalists.
These are the hottest members-only clubs, and our Legend Awards honorees for best private memberships and VIP services:
Farfetch Private Client
Farfetch, a hyper-personalized shopping service that specializes in sourcing rare high-fashion staples, offers a referral-only Private Client membership. Private Clients have access to stylists in 19 global cities—and those stylists will even fly to see clients at the drop of a hat. All Farfetch members have access to in-person and virtual consultations and can receive shipments of their covetable clothing to 190 countries.
Launched in 2000, NET-A-PORTER has partnered with the world’s most luxury designers to bring high-end fashion to stylish consumers. Their invitation-only EIP program caters to NET-A-PORTER’s extremely important people, offering EIPs access to private sales, the ability to pre-order, complimentary delivery around the world, and most importantly, a dedicated personal shopper.
SaksFirst Limitless, Saks Fifth Avenue
SaksFirst Limitless is an invite-only rewards program from this iconic brand, available only to Saks' top clients. To qualify for an invitation, Saks Fifth Avenue loyalists must regularly visit the store and cross a spend threshold in the six figures. SaksFirst Limitless offers one-of-a-kind VIP experiences tailored to the needs of their clients, from tours of the Cartier factory in Geneva and Mademoiselle Chanel's apartment to helping clients buy directly off the runway during fashion weeks around the world. And for in-the-know Saks clients who are working up to an invite, Saks Fifth Avenue’s Personal Shopping Experience, Saks At Your Service, is an in-person styling service; Saks professionals will even bring the styling experience to shoppers in their own homes or their hotel room when traveling.
San Vicente Bungalows, Los Angeles
Located in West Hollywood, the San Vicente Bungalows is a members-only oasis ensuring privacy to some of the biggest names in Hollywood. The exclusive bungalows were developed by Jeff Klein, who operated the Sunset Tower Hotel. From the patio with lush greenery and a pool to the Beverly Hills Hotel-esque color scheme, the bungalows have a Mediterranean riviera meets old-world Hollywood glamour feel. The nomination-only club has no dress code—and there are no cameras allowed.
SoHo House, Worldwide
SoHo House has buzzing members-only outposts around the world. Our favorite new and noteworthy SoHo House is Little Beach House Barcelona, which opened in June 2019 with 17 hotel rooms and a bar with panoramic views of the Mediterranean. SoHo House also expanded its reach to Asia recently with its opening of SoHo House Mumbai. SoHo Every House members have access to all 27 glam workspaces worldwide, many of which feature rooftop terraces, pools, SoHo Active gyms, and even lofts serving as overnight accommodations.
Mark’s Club, London
One of London’s most exclusive members-only clubs, Mark’s Club is of course in central Mayfair. Membership at Mark’s Club London is not bought but rather earned. To become a member, two existing members have to “propose” and “second” the member, writing formal letters on the applicants’ behalf.
Equinox Hudson Yards Club, New York City
Equinox Club is synonymous with curating high-end, high-performance workouts. They’ve recently opened a luxury hotel at Hudson Yards, and now offer premium membership to Equinox Hudson Yards Club. Members of the Hudson Yards Club have access to all workout facilities, plus the indoor saltwater lap pool, and the outdoor terrace pool and surrounding daybeds, all with views of Hudson Yards’ The Vessel.
THIRDHOME members have access to luxury vacation homes around the world. It’s like house swap, except every vacation home is thoroughly vetted and only available to a small group of members. Ultimately, Third Home allows you to make your second home someone else’s third home, and vice versa. THIRDHOME Reserve just launched in January 2020, and unlocks exclusive, uber-expensive residences (the average home worth is $5 million) and intimate group trips led by experts (think: diving with Jean-Michel Cousteau himself).
With Fischer Travel, no travel stone is left unturned, and no corner of the globe is out of reach. Bill Fischer started the full-service agency in 1959, and still curates vacations for an exclusive client list that pays $100,000 upon initiation and annual dues of $25,000. Fischer, now working with his daughter Stacey Fischer-Rosenthal, will rise to the occasion of any client request.
The Centurion Lounge
American Express operates The Centurion Lounge in airports around the US and in Hong Kong. The lounge offers American Express Card Members a unique place to rest at some of the busiest airports. Visitors can enjoy artisan meals, hand-crafted signature cocktails, and spa services.
For a monthly fee, Inspirato Pass travel club members have access to thousands of luxury hotels and independently owned villas around the world—without having to worry about nightly rates, taxes, or fees. Inspirato members pay a monthly fee and can book any Inspirato reservation in the world—with as little as seven days’ notice. As soon as they check out, they can book their next one.
Marchay allows luxury travelers to book on a per-trip basis, or become a member after a screening call to ensure a mutual fit for the organization. Members (and the member’s spouse or domestic partner) and their families have access to Marchay’s private jet charters, perks from partnering brands (like JetLinx or VIP homes booked through One Fine Stay), and 24/7 travel support. Rather than simply offering travel services, Marchay offers a community of “like-minded, sophisticated travelers” to connect with.
Essentialist plans adventures with input from destination locals, and a vast network of journalists and other influencers. Each Essentialist member is assigned a personal “travel designer” who can plan unique experiences and trips specific to the member’s preferences.
The knowledgeable travel associates at PRIOR specialize in creating unique, culture-focused itineraries around the world. Their exclusive partnerships are what keep guests coming back to PRIOR; They curate events with award-winning chefs like Massimo Bottura and Francis Mallman.