There are still people who believe the Marbella Club is members-only, and approach it timidly as if expecting to be refused entry. The term 'club' is chic in any language, but in Spain at least it should never be taken at face value.
Many readers will no doubt have been privileged to attend one of the 'peñas gastronómicas' that exist on the Coast, and these are indeed private eating societies at which members do the cooking and the cost of the weekly get-together is shared among everyone.
Nevertheless, members-only clubs with their own premises are still a rarity, and over the years there have been more failures than successes. Even the latest to close, the Marbella branch of a well-established Madrid club with 400 paid-up members, could not prosper in the laid-back atmosphere of deepest Andalucía.
Outside the big cities it has been shown impossible to persuade people to join a club that operates along the lines of the British private version.
While London's clubland is unique, there are few capitals in the world that do not have a 'members-only' private society for the rich and powerful. The latest to open is Ten Trinity Square, worth a visit if only to see how many millions have been invested by Four Seasons and Chateau Latour, the j-v partners. Near The Tower of London, it has reached a membership of 600 members without breaking a sweat, at 3,000 euros a year.
The word economise is not in the promoters' dictionary. Interiors are designed by Bruno Mossard of Chateau Latour fame, and in the bar alone there is enough carved wood to rebuild the ark. Carpets are custom-made, as are the candelabra that hang in the library, billiards room, and cigar-smoking area. Antique clocks, valuable paintings, marble fireplaces and leather sofas are of course obligatory.
The kitchen is the domain of Anne-Sophie Pic, chef-owner of the three-star Maison Pic in Valence, France. Her job is to ensure none of the members go anywhere else to eat. Nor need they. Apart from the restaurant there is a Chateau Latour tasting room, based on the original version at the home of the wine.
Made from 100% Tempranillo grapes grown at an altitude of 800m, it is aged for 14 months in barrels of French and American oak and then spends 10 months in bottle.
Impeccable at around 19 euros for the 2015 vintage.