Expensive and Exclusive Clubs Migrate East Into West Hollywood

The Britely’s member-only rooftop bar looking over Sunset Boulevard into the Hollywood Hills (Instagram)

While the COVID-19 pandemic has hit many West Hollywood residents and business owners hard, the exclusive and opulent continue their migration east from Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Brentwood, and Santa Monica.

The latest arrival is The Britely, a private club that will be opening this Fall within the Pendry, the luxury hotel on Sunset Boulevard at Olive Drive. According to CSQ, a publication that bills itself as a “business luxury lifestyle brand,” the club already is accepting applications for memberships, which will cost $2,800 a year. Membership is limited to 2,000 people.

“We believe in having good people, not just creative types. If you’re in finance, you won’t be turned away,” said Estelle Lacroix, the managing director of lifestyle, in an interview with CSQ. Lacroix has worked in hospitality at brands ranging from The Ritz-Carlton to Thomas Keller and was previously at NeueHouse and the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

The 25,000-square-foot club will include a music venue that will feature “disco nights” and a bowling alley. There also will be two “members only” Wolfgang Puck restaurants and three “members only” bars and lounges. Hotel guests won’t have access to The Britely, but it will be open to those living in the 42 condos located in the adjacent Pendry Residences on the northeast corner of Olive Drive and Fountain Avenue, which are said to be priced at $3 million to $30 million.

Dining at the Britely

In West Hollywood’s growing pool of pricey private clubs, The Britely seems to fit closest with the SoHo House. That club, a spin-off of the London SoHo House, is located on the two top floors of the building at 9200 Sunset Blvd. The Hollywood Reporter has called it ” a high-wattage magnet for A-listers and dealmakers.” The SoHo House is said to charge an annual membership fee of $2,000, or $2,800 for access to all of its clubs around the world.

San Vicente Bungalows (Photo: Jon Viscott)

Jeff Klein’s San Vicente Bungalows at 845 N. San Vicente Blvd. is probably the most exclusive club in West Hollywood. Members are not permitted to disclose the identity of other members, and staff is said to paste a cover over the camera lens on a member’s mobile phone to prevent someone from leaking a photo of a celebrity. But there have been leaks. The Bungalows launched an investigation in March 2019 into who leaked the story that Steven Spielberg and Netflix’s Ted Sarandos had dinner there in an effort to reconcile after Spielberg allegedly argued against considering streaming films not shown in theatres for Academy Award nominations. And a crowd gathered outside in July 2019 to applaud Michelle Obama when she showed up for lunch. Membership at the San Vicente Bungalows costs $4,200 a year, or $1,800 for those 35 and under. The initiation fee is said to be $1,800 (only $500 for those 35 and under).

Another quite exclusive venue that will come close to rivaling the San Vicente Bungalows is the Arts Club, whose construction on the site of the old Hustler porn and sex toy store on Sunset Boulevard at Hilldale has been approved by the City Council and by voters in the 2019 election, when the hotel workers union had tried to block it. An off-shoot of London’s Arts Club, it is a project of Gwyneth Paltrow. It isn’t yet clear how many members it will have or what the membership will cost. But the monthly membership fee for the London club is the equivalent of $2,547.

One of the most controversial private clubs is the Wing, which last year opened a luxurious co-working space above the Sprouts store at 8550 Santa Monica Blvd. The Wing launched in New York City and initially billed itself as a co-working space for women only. A lawsuit filed by a man denied membership and an investigation by the New York City Human Rights Commission led to the Wing describing itself as a “gender neutral” workspace.

An illustration of the interior of The Wing in West Hollywood.

Allegations of racism at the West Hollywood location and of discrimination against working class women that were reported in The New York Times created a controversy that led to the Wing’s co-founder, Audrey Gelman, resigning earlier this month.

The Wing’s Black and Latina employees recently declared a “virtual strike,” complaining that they haven’t received pay that was promised to them. They also have complained that Gelman overturned a decision to ban a white guest of a white female member of the West Hollywood club after she had been accused of engaging in a racist altercation with a Black female member. While allegations of racism at the West Hollywood Wing have gotten wide media coverage, the issue hasn’t been mentioned by local feminist organizations such as Hollywood Now or by the West Hollywood City Council. The Wing, now on shutdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic, is said to charge a membership fee of $2,350 a year.

A view from the AllBright West Hollywood on Melrose Place

Another private co-working club is AllBright West Hollywood, which describes itself as “created by women for women.” Based in London, AllBright opened its West Hollywood club last Fall at 8474 Melrose Place, which is technically outside the West Hollywood city limits. Annual fees at AllBright are said to be $2,050 ($1,050 for women 29 and under) with a $300 initiation fee.

  1. none of these will last two years, if that. until there is a vaccine for C-19 and, even for quite a while afterwards, incomes will have dropped, most immediately on July 31, when the 600 week extra vanishes. Although unemployed people are not the target demographic of these clubs, the pool of people willing to pay for this dated notion of “:exclusivity” has shrunk & will only contract as time goes on … not to mention, the piss elegant / Nancy Reagan tea rose vibe of these places isn’t exactly designed to draw taste makers & trend setters. Unless your idea of that is a katrashian in which case, party on …

    1. I disagree. The plans for private clubs are not migrating from anywhere.
      They are new Exclusive Clubs being built as close to the boarder of Beverly Hills as possible.
      Beverly Hills has had for years a total moratorium on any office/commercial new square footage inside the City Limits.
      It is purely a situation of an already way overcrowded situation in the GOLDEN TRIANGLE in BH. Wilshire is gridlocked every day at rush hour, All land has been built on with already too big at the time in the 1960s.
      Thus, so many aging office buildings. If torn down, BH won’t allow a new replacement building taller than 2 floor be built.

      1. Exactly. Read about this recently and whoever knew about these circumstances long before, drew up the plan and threw down the welcome mat for West Hollywood Exponential Prosperity with all the requisite facades. Seems like the original stated goals of West Hollywood when incorporated, appear to have been hijacked in favor of a financial windfall with all sorts of developers feeding at the trough. It was like a high frequency call went out several years ago that drew them all in their migration from who knows where and those homegrown upstarts that got into the mix.

        Seems to have been a genius financial concept, until it wasn’t. Now will that architect of West Hollywood be available to restructure the community for the benefit of the community and the residents? That is the question.

  2. People are seeking out private clubs because inconsiderate, bad behavior is running wild and if some people can afford to go to a place where decency prevails…they’re gonna pay for it.

  3. I fully agree with the three previous commenters. WEHO has 4 zip codes in a 2 mile radius, and more private members-only clubs than any other city! From Sunset Plaza to Melrose Place. Just look at all the restaurants and hotels with valets and secret and private velvet rope access. From Boa Steakhouse to the SoHo House having people speed their Lamborghini’s almost hitting me every weekend! Pendry Residences under construction to Edition Hotel rooftop on Sunset Blvd, to Catch on Melrose to Santa Monica Blvd LaPeer Hotel and the London Hotel and San Vicente Bungalows. Members who must belong to a certain industry or be invited to become members.

    The concept of affordable West Hollywood is actually an oxymoron—it’s not affordable! West Hollywood has done a major disservice to residents by letting landlords price gouge renters and the influx and corporatization of multimillion dollar condominiums being built in place of lacking affordable housing for 30 years. It’s not only Costa-Hawkins!

    Maybe the people 35-40 years ago who lived in Weho could afford homes today and moved out, or succumbed to AIDS or were elderly or were eventually gentrified out as rents skyrocketed year after year.

    The private clubs place a veil of wealth, secrecy, and blatant superficiality. Compare that with 60% of people who spend 60-80% of their income on rent alone just live here. Did WEHO really envision it would actually be Beverly Hills East or Hollywood Hills West?

    Rent control is disappearing at an alarming rate as COVID job losses are rising along with inflation and rising rents all the way to LaBrea Avenue, the only place where someone may find the very last rent controlled units.

    It’s a sad discouraging reality that WEHO perpetuated it’s own downfall with not controlling the greed, ignoring codes, and expectation that in order to live here you must have money outright or on the brink of living on ramen or have roommates in order to pay rents and club dues!

  4. ” a high-wattage magnet for A-listers and dealmakers.” Yeah, more like a bug zapper for D-listers who will gladly live in a studio to afford the dues. Proof positive there’s a sucker born every minute.

  5. Oh yeah, this is exactly what we envisioned in 1984 when we incorporated.
    I never understood how Catch was allowed to open on a commercial rooftop on Melrose when the zoning did not permit it; like the development concessions to the Art’s Club it was simply corporate welfare to rich potential campaign contributors.

    1. sorry steve…you lost the Arts Club battle ..the PEOPLE voted on it directly and wanted to see it come to our city. End of story.

  6. this is a cancer upon West Hollywood and it’s the pro-developer and ‘let’s coddle the rich’ mindset of most of the WeHo City Council over the years that has led to this spread of the Beverly Hills-ization of once formerly eclectic and interesting West Hollywood

  7. As the founder of Wasps Lives Matter (I bought the domain for $12.95 on Go Daddy), most of these clubs seem to be catering to be what unkind critics would label nouveau riche straight trash and wannabes! I’ve been to the Bungalows which can’t disguise the tacky entrance and location plus the remnants of what looks like a motel. The Soho is like a packed cruise ship. Since I’m a he/him I can’t visit the women’s clubs. One can only laugh out loud at West Hollywood…it’s developing into a prime target, a combination of satire and muckraking. The Sunset Strip has been stripped of glamour and replaced by the grotesque.

  8. How about a “Sharp Elbow Club” to contain all the strivers? Probably impossible as there are currently an excessive number of crude, strivers and there would be no exclusivity whatsoever.

  9. By the time of The Britely opening in the fall, it will require a name change to the Dimly. And p.s. the marketing guru that thought up the name The Britely should move on to another pasture. He/she must have come up with an algorithm decision having not experienced classy or authentic behavior in his/her experience.

  10. The picture of the San Vicente Inn above is from 2016 or earlier. For a $4,500 a year membership, they’ve had to do some sprucing up since then.

      1. The Hilldale buildings look like they are ready for the wrecking ball. I think that’s the strategy. Neglect them enough and then a developer will swoop in, buy all the lots, tie them together and build multimillion dollar condos. The neighborhood will support the project to get rid of the blight and a development agreement with the City will give them bonus density in exchange for nearly nothing. Then the years before the construction starts, the years of construction and streets blocked and inconvenience to the neighborhood. Then sales to wealthy tech stock option people. Can’t wait. Oh, and loss of the rental units.

  11. Oh, to be an Elite A..hole. Doesn’t Weho have enough pf these D.bags? Just yesterday, while waiting for my take-away dinner, I lost count of the idiots in their ultra high-priced cars revving the motors and doing mad dashes throughout traffic.

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