How do you make the rarefied atmosphere of high-end boutique hotels more exclusive, more desirable? A new wave of LA hotspots have provided the perfect answer: by turning their properties into members-only clubs you can stay the night in.
Soho House led the trend, of course, reviving the stuffy members-only concept for a hip younger audience, and turning a British institution into a worldwide luxury brand with a famously stringent members-only door policy (Kim Kardashian was reported to be among those turned away for lack of credentials).
Originating in London, where the demand for exclusive clubs has stayed fairly consistent since the 19th century, the members-only hotel has in more recent times become a worldwide trend. And where Soho House led, others were sure to follow: like the Gwyneth Paltrow-backed Arts Club, another London export, which boasts of its own art gallery and helipad; and LA’s quirky Petit Ermitage, with its hummingbird sanctuary and rooftop sundeck.
The latest addition to this discerning bunch is The Hospital Club, yet another London export, which is set to take over Hollywood’s boho-chic Redbury Hotel in 2018 and feature a series of bars, a tearoom and a rooftop restaurant. The club is a multi-million-dollar project set up by billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and will be followed later this year by Soho Warehouse, the latest branch of Nick Jones’ empire in LA’s Arts District.
So for a boutique hotel owner, what exactly is the appeal of limiting your clientele to a select number of paying customers? Firstly, exclusivity creates a great profile, as it sends a message that your establishment is luxurious enough that it can afford to pick and choose who walks through its doors.
Secondly, it’s a very practical way of keeping people engaged with your hotel brand: if visitors are signed up to a membership scheme, they have already made a financial commitment. And psychologically the signing-up process will make them far more likely to pay a repeat visit, whether for an overnight stay or an evening meal and drinks.
And lastly, the membership model is also a great way of honing in on a profitable and sympathetic client base. If your hotel is in a position to be turning away non-members, it can attract attention from all the right people: an exclusive group of discerning hotel-goers with great taste. And that’s a club we’d love to be part of!