Skip to content

New York City

Private Clubs: How Much is Too Much?

Is the recent influx of private clubs in Manhattan satisfying the wealthy New Yorker’s inner Anglophilia, or their need to cull the herd . . . or both?

A clutch of private social clubs have recently opened in Manhattan and, for a city whose denizens are forever in pursuit of shinier, more exclusive spaces, this fall will be a test: will they endure, or will they become just another wistful coulda-shoulda moment in the owners’ resumes?

But as long as there is Society, there will be clubs like this, the darlings of a certain kind of New Yorker who seeks to curate the company they keep. (Some of these clubs also function as co-working spaces, providing a merry alternative from the home office where we suffer from either loneliness or marauding little ones.)

They have popped up everywhere, from Saks Fifth Avenue’s social club SaksWorks, to Chapel Bar, housed in a 19th-century church, to Tribeca’s Nexus Club, which has its own indoor golf range. There is something for everyone. Here are four of the liveliest.

Zero Bond 

Inspired by Annabel’s in London, Scott Sartiano—the veteran club owner who just opened the eponymous Sardino’s restaurant in the basement of the Mercer Hotel—teamed up with fellow restaurateur Will Makris in 2020 to open this multi-leveled venue in the former Brooks Brothers factory in NoHo. 

Zero Bond was officially on the social map after Elon Musk held his Met Gala after-party here, attended by Leonardo DiCaprio, Chris Rock and Lil Nas X. When New York’s Mayor Eric Adams isn’t pontificating about immigrants he can often be found here; Jennifer Lopez, Ben Affleck, Gigi Hadid, and Kim and Kourtney Kardashian are also known to stop by.

Jared Leto, Kate Hudson, Stella McCartney at Zero Bond private club, NYC
Jared Leto, Kate Hudson, and Stella McCartney at the Met Gala after party at Zero Bond in May. Silver balloons and neon signs transformed the minimalist space. Photo by Matteo Prandoni/BFA.com
Gisele Bunchen arriving at the Met Gala after party at Zero Bond
Gisele Bündchen arriving at the event. Since opening in 2020, the private club has hosted a slew of fashion industry parties. Photo by MEGA/GC Images

Gatekeeper: Founder members, a collection of Sartiano’s friends from the worlds of fashion, sports and finance. Like all hard-to-get-into clubs, they say the list is now “closed” but applicants can apply online. With the right name recommending you, that list would open faster than you can say, “Open Bungalow.” 

Dues: $3,850 annual dues plus $1,000 initiation fee ($2,750 plus $750 for those under 28; $4,400 plus $5,000 for 45 and overs).

Social Directory: Where else are you likely to see Zac Posen and Tom Brady in the same room? They’re members, as well as tech titans (Sergey Brin, Mr. Musk) and financial bigwigs (David M. Solomon, CEO of Goldman Sachs). 

Layout: Spread out across two floors, the 20,000-square-foot club includes two restaurants, a semi-circular bar and an Omakase room—all designed by William Sofield, who combined old (arched windows, exposed brick walls) with new (plush banquets and lacquered tables). A screening room and a library round out the amenities. Sophia Cohen of the Gagosian Gallery helped fill the walls with Keith Harings and Andy Warhols. 

Club Faux Pas: Aggressively approaching famous people (don’t even think of posing for a selfie with them) might get your membership revoked.

0 Bond Street (near Broadway); 212-960-3484

Casa Cipriani

“A downtown club for uptown people,” is the way one attendee put it. Thirty-six-year-old family scion Maggio Cipriani, who launched the Mr. C hotels with his brother Ignazio, partnered with the Cayre real estate family (Midtown Equities and Centaur Properties) to create this latest Cipriani iteration in 2021. 

A brigade of slicked-back hair and sockless patrons populate the club from lunchtime to early evening, giving way to an artier, edgier crowd later in the night. Appropriately, given the character she played on Succession, Annabelle-Dexter Jones threw a dinner party with a full view of the roaring heliport next door, where a daily stream of suitcase-wheeling people are ferried off the island with Apocalypse Now-like urgency.

 

A party outside Casa Cipriani in Lower Manhattan
Casa Cipriani‘s renovation—by Thierry Despont—was inspired by the great luxury liners of the 1930s. Photo by Darian DiCianno/BFA.com
View of the Hudson River from Casa Cipriani, downtown Manhattan
The club‘s location at the southern tip of Manhattan affords fabulous views of the river—and the Statue of Liberty. Photo courtesy of Casa Cipriani
Lili Buffett, Jane Keltner de Valle and guest at Casa Cipriani in April, 2023 in New York City
Lili Buffett, Jane Keltner de Valle, and guest at the 2023 Prince‘s Trust Gala at Casa Cipriani in April. Photo by Lexie Moreland/WWD/Getty Images

Gatekeeper: You can apply online; referrals are a must. A well-connected PR is a safe bet. (Full disclosure: that’s how I got in.)

Dues: $3,900 annual dues plus $2,000 initiation fee ($2,500 and $1,000 for those under 30) for the New York club. 

Social Directory: European playboys and bankers (Wall Street is a quick hop away), a smattering of Upper East Side socialites, and art world buyers. Later at night there is a distinctly raffish and exotic edge. Among those spotted recently: Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds . . . though a recent New York Post story noted the club was a little heavy on the mobster wanna-bes and “girls looking for sugar daddies.”

Layout: Housed in the 1909 Battery Maritime Building (next to the Staten Island Ferry) and renovated by Thierry W. Despont and Marvel architects, Casa Cipriani was inspired by the great luxury liners of the 1930s, complete with gold-leaf-covered walls, mahogany ceilings and views of the Statue of Liberty. There are 47 rooms and suites available to rent, a ballroom that seats 800, a jazz club, and a full spa and gym with its own cafe.

Club Faux Pas: According to its website, the club frowns upon dirty sneakers, torn jeans, flip flops, overly revealing clothing and gambling. They also have a no-photo policy so celebrities can breathe; allegedly three members were chucked out for taking a photo of Taylor Swift on an (ill-fated) date with Matt Healy.

10 South Street (near Whitehall Street); 212-584-5801

Aman New York

Owned by Russian businessman Vladislav Doronin, Arman Resorts are known for their exorbitant prices, high staff-to-client ratio (six to one), hotels in exotic, far-flung locations, and ability to cater to an ultra-wealthy clientele (Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and the Kardashians.) Aman New York opened in August 2022.

Cocktail waitresses in black dresses and orange scarves at an event at Aman New York
The staff-to-client ration at Aman—housed in the Crown Building at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 57th Street—is reportedly six to one. Photo by Rupert Ramsay/BFA.com
Menu, tables and chairs a the underground Jazz Club at Aman New York
Aman New York‘s speakeasy-style underground Jazz Club can host up to 150 people. Photo by Ben Rosser/BFA.com

Gatekeeper: By invitation only. The best way to join is to be a reflection of the owner’s sensibility—a regular Aman attendee married to a model. Members are known as “founders” and, earlier in the year, Aman offered membership to 100 families.

Dues: Reportedly $200,00 for the initiation fee. 

Social Directory: Rich people who value discretion. The Russian oligarch quota will be high. 

Layout: Located on the upper floors of the 1921 Crown Building on 57th Street and designed by Jean-Michel Gathy. Members have access to two private lounges, one outdoor, both with South Asian design touches, and access to a 24/7 private office. Also available in the rest of the hotel is a wine library where you can have dinner surrounded by floor-to-ceiling wine bottles, a three-floor spa, a garden terrace and bar, and a subterranean jazz club. 

Club Faux Pas: There is little you could do here to get in trouble except for not having the money to spend.

730 5th Avenue at 57th Street; 646-459-8983

Casa Cruz New York

Juan Santa Cruz, the Chilean-born social pied piper and ex-private equity honcho, opened an eponymous offshoot of his London restaurant in February 2022 in a $32-million, six-story Beaux Art Mansion off Madison Avenue. Partnering with Charlotte Santo Domingo, the wife of billionaire investment advisor Alejandro Santo Domingo and the daughter of the Duke of Wellington, the restaurant is open to the public but almost 100 “investors” or “shareholders” have their own room and special privileges.

A party at Casa Cruz in December 2022.
Casa Cruz hosted the Assouline party celebrating the launch of Cartagena Grace by Johanna Ortiz & Lauren Santo Domingo at Casa Cruz in December 2022. Photo by Matteo Prandoni/BFA.com
Set up at Casa Cruz for an intimate dinner celebrating the opening of Dr. Barbara Sturm‘s New York spa and boutique, co-hosted by Katie Holmes. November 2022.
Set up at Casa Cruz for dinner to celebrate the opening of Dr. Barbara Sturm‘s New York spa and boutique, co-hosted by Katie Holmes. November 2022. Photo by Neil Rasmus/BFA.com

Gatekeeper: Think Spy Bar redux. If you are a Russian billionaire, a big wig in the worlds of film, contemporary art, finance or a supermodel, you’ll get a table. 

Dues: The initial offering was $200,000 but that tier is closed. The next level is for $500,000.

Social Directory: South American billionaires, monied American establishment types, London aristocracy and the odd oligarch. London regulars like Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie, Mick Jagger and Madonna; Aerin Lauder and Sienna Miller.

Layout: The space is 15,900 square feet over six floors, all public except for the investors’ fourth floor drawing room (which has a special wine list and access to the private elevator). The ultimate clubby design, deep greens, wood-paneled walls, mirrors and touches of copper. Investors can anticipate being invited to some of Santa Cruz’s famous “lock-ins,” when patrons bolt the door and party the night away. 

Club Faux Pas: Photographs of what happens at “lock-ins” strictly prohibited. 

36 East 61st Street; 212-970-8983

And what will be next in the rarefied world of private clubs? Well, maybe . . . one that really feels like home—for better or worse. Maxwell Social is a two-story club in Tribeca where membership is $3,000 a year plus an additional buy-in ranging from $2,500 to $12,000 a year. For that price you get to . . . cook your own food and store your liquor. But maybe you’re doing it with Leo DiCaprio? Stay tuned.

Hero image by Tobias Titz / Getty images

Related
Tina Leung at the Save Venice Un Ballo in Maschera 2024: La Primavera
Eye Candy

Hot Parties of the Week

NYPL 2024 Library Lunch; Save Venice Un Ballo in Maschera 2024: La Primavera; Launch of “The Anxious Generation” by Jonathan Haidt.

Black and gold, three-tired 50th birthday cake
Daisy Loves . . .

SOMA Cakes NYC

Hiroyo Ruiz brings her artistic vision—and top-notch baking and patisserie pedigree—to her meticulously designed creations.

Ethan Hawke, Laura Linney and Maya Hawke at Dior, The Cinema Society & Oscilloscope Laboratories host the New York Premiere of
Eye Candy

Hot Parties of the Week

Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club President's Dinner; 2024 YoungArts New York Gala; Dior, The Cinema Society & Oscilloscope Laboratories host the New York Premiere of "Wildcat".

Cute puppy and a menu at a pet cafe
Pets

Animal House

For the gourmand who also appreciates animals not on their plates, there is a new trend coming to these shores: pet cafés.

More

Join us for the party

Join us for the party