What with their velvet ropes and burly doormen, many bars and clubs in Los Angeles like to think they're exclusive. These five LA venues, however, walk the talk with members only policies that even a cash-lined handshake won't break.
Soho House: Opened last year, the trendy LA outpost of this worldwide club occupies the top two floors of West Hollywood's 14-story Luckman Plaza. See and be seen Soho House is open from 8am until late (way late), and doubles as a work space for many high-profile members. Upon entry, a massive staircase leads guests to a mellow bar with sweeping views of the city. Scope out the beautiful crowd and commemorate your experience in the complimentary photo booth. (Don't even think of using your cell phone; they aren't allowed here). To apply for membership, you'll need a recent photo, a letter of recommendation and several thousand dollars.
Door difficulty: Unless you know, or are, a member, impossible.
Soho House, 9200 Sunset Boulevard, at Cory Avenue, (310-432-9200 or sohohousewh.com)
Magic Castle: Tucked in the hills of Hollywood is Magic Castle, the home of the Academy of Magical Arts, a nonprofit club for magicians and their invite-only friends. The club features a basement pub, a seance room, and, we imagine, a few of those fake bookcases that are actually doors. Magic Castle hosts magic shows, dinners and brunches, and a strict dress code enforces elegant attire for men and women, meaning that all rabbits under your hat must be checked at the door.
Door difficulty: Must know or be a member. Applicants must be at least 21 years old and "love or actively practice that art of magic."
7001 Franklin Avenue, at North Orange Drive, (323-851-3313 or magiccastle.com)
Cana Rum Bar: Yes, this downtown bar is members only, but the membership fee is a mere $20 and guests can sign up at the door. This low key little rum spot features an artfully curated selection of more than 140 small batch rums, and membership in its Cana Rum Society also grants access to complimentary tastings on the last Tuesday of every month.
Door difficulty: Get in with a member, (they can bring up to three along), or become one at the door.
714 West Olympic Boulevard, at Flower Street, (213-745-7090 or canarumbar.com)
La Descarga: You don't have to be in any special club to get into this speakeasy, but you do have to be organized enough to make a reservation. (Don't try to get in without them, seriously). After checking in, a hostess escorts guests through a "closet" to a spiral staircase leading to the dimly lit main room downstairs. Here, easy speakers find burlesque dancers, a live band, an adjacent cigar lounge, and, uh, cocktails.
Door difficulty: Easy breezy, as long as you have a reservation.
1159 North Western Avenue, at Virginia Avenue, (323-466-1324 or ladescargala.com)
California Club: Established in 1887 as a private social organization for men of wealth and influence, downtown's ritzy California Club now caters to a broader, but no less exclusive demographic of notable men and woman, (think doctors, lawyers, politicians and business people), of all ethnic and religious backgrounds, (which was not always the case). Members are treated with fresh baked cookies, a state of the art gym and impressionist art and are expected to both "conduct themselves with decorum," and "wear leather footwear." Okay then.
Door difficulty: Unless you're a member, a friend of a member or have been invited to a special event, don't bother knocking.
538 South Flower Street, at West 5th Street, (213-622-1391 or californiaclub.org)
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