I’ve been visiting the Rand Club, one of Joburg’s most historic buildings, for years.

Outside the Rand Club
The Rand Club is on the corner of Fox and Loveday Streets in downtown Joburg. Although the club was founded in 1887, the current clubhouse was built in 1904. Read an in-depth history of the Rand Club building here.

I’ve blogged about the club before and gone there for various events, which I always enjoy. But I hadn’t considered joining the Rand Club until last month, while I was getting a pedicure.

Let me back up a bit.

Inside the Rand Club, looking up at the dome
Looking up at the Rand Club’s iconic dome.
Thorsten's sketch of the Rand Club
A sketch Thorsten made of the Rand Club.

A few years ago, while touring the Rand Club, I met a woman named Alicia Thompson. Alicia is a member at the club and we became friends. Alicia mentioned she runs her own spa business and I started going for pedicures at her small spa in Albertville.

During one of these pedicures, Alicia told me she recently became the Rand Club’s new chairperson. She is the first Black person and only the second woman to chair the club, which is really freaking cool. Cecil John Rhodes founded the Rand Club in 1887 (just a year after Joburg was founded), and it was a men-only, whites-only club for the first 100-plus years of its existence.

Alicia Thompson at Tommy's Bar
Alicia Thompson, the Rand Club’s new chairperson, at the club’s members-only bar.
Alicia in a fancy bathroom
Interesting fun fact about Alicia: She became a flight attendant for South African Airways in 1994, just a couple of months before the country’s first democratic elections, and was the top student in her SAA graduating class. (Alicia also has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wits University.) Her first flight as an SAA flight attendant was also her first time on an airplane.
Alicia leaning out a window at the Rand Club
Alicia in the window of one of the Rand Club’s recently refurbished offices.

Then Alicia started telling me about all the cool things happening at the club right now. I got super excited, and a couple of weeks later I joined.

Joining the Rand Club

Becoming a member of a club has never been one of my life goals. It seemed like something my grandparents or great-grandparents would (and did) do — to gain access to a golf course, or a fancy dining room in the days before restaurants were a thing, or to network with other (white) people. What reason did I have to join such a club in the 21st century?

But the more I spoke to Alicia, the more I started thinking about how remarkable it is that the Rand Club has stood for the entire, tumultuous history of this city — especially over the last couple of decades as countless big companies and institutions have fled the Joburg CBD. The club survives, right in the center of downtown Joburg, because its members have overcome adversity (including a huge fire in 2005, which nearly destroyed the building), and adapted to the new South Africa in their own unique way.

Today the Rand Club is not only surviving, but thriving. I want to be part of what’s happening there, to encourage more development in the neighborhood, and to help the club continue to become more diverse and inclusive. And after two years of pandemic isolation, I need a little push to get back out into the city and have more fun.

Heather at the Rand Club
Me in a hallway on the 4th floor of the Rand Club, which is currently being transformed into a small art gallery with work from the Living Artists Emporium. (Photo: Alicia Thompson)
David Tlale display outside his studio
Also on the Rand Club’s 4th floor: The studio and workshop of acclaimed South African fashion designer, David Tlale. David is also a club member and moved his entire operation here earlier this year. Photos aren’t allowed inside the studio, but David’s website has beautiful pictures of his most recent collection, shot in the Rand Club’s library.

There are also lots of fun, tangible benefits to being a Rand Club member, which costs R860 (about $50) per month. The benefits below are just a small sample; see more here (this list is in the process of being updated).

1) 25% off at the restaurant, which is now open to the public and serves really good food.

The Rand Club's restaurant
The Rand Club’s restaurant, which, like virtually the entire building, has been recently refurbished.
Rand Club's dining room
Another look at the dining room.

2) 25% off the club’s beautiful, brand-new boutique hotel rooms (also open to the public), and you get a free stay every year for your birthday. (More to come on this soon, as I have a birthday coming up.)

Rand Club's suite
The bedroom in the Rand Club’s luxury suite.
Suite bathroom
The suite also includes one of the biggest and most photogenic bathrooms I’ve ever seen.

3) Access to the books in the Rand Club’s members-only library, which is a treasure trove for bibliophiles. The club also houses two incredible bookstores: Bridge Books (which I’ve blogged about numerous times) and James Findlay Collectable Books and Antique Maps, which I blogged about here.

Rand Club's library
The library.

4) Discounts on tailoring, barbering, and styling at the insanely cool ManMade Executive studios, which is inside the Rand Club.

Humbu Vhulahani of ManMade Executive Studios
Humbu Vhulahani, owner of ManMade Executive Studios.

5) Reciprocity at a huge list of other clubs all over the world. This means you can stay at these clubs for the same discounted price as its local members.

6) Access to events, including members-only events and public events that members can attend for free. I’m going to my first wine-tasting on 21 July.

Can you tell I’m excited about the Rand Club? You’ll be hearing more from me about it in the future.

The Rand Club's staircase


  1. davidjbristow

    Wowzer! (as we say). To misquote Dilbert: if we could attach a roll of copper to the body of CJ Rhodes, we could generate enough electricity to power Joburg for a week, he’s spinning so fast in his grave.

    • 2summers

      I suspect that if Cecil Rhodes could actually meet Alicia, he would be extremely pleased!

      • Albert

        You capitalist bourgeoisie! Lol. I must admit membership looks awesome and I would join in a heartbeat if I lived / worked closer to the Rand Club.

        • 2summers

          I recently met a member there who lives in Fourways! ????????

  2. maarten

    Wow, Heather you are now part of the VIP bourgeoisie of the city. The fee is a bit too much for me to become a member (if I would like) but I can see that the building is open to the public as well to visit.

  3. dizzylexa

    Just to have access to the library is an incentive in itself.

      • Stan Garrun

        Cecil is spinning for sure! But that is a good thing.Well done Alicia! We have to be getting better every hundred years or so.

        I would join in a flash if the Rand Club was nearer my stomping ground or If I still worked in the general vicinity. But it is a bit expensive for the odd drop by.

        Again well done on your great blog!


        • 2summers

          Thank you Stan. You should come visit for one of the open events! They’re announced on the Rand Club FB page, if you’re interested.

  4. Peggy Laws

    Graham re-joined through one of his Military Associations, who get a discounted membership fee offered. He is very happy to be back and it only takes him 15-minites minutes to get there! It is a lovely Club and great to see it being revitalised.

  5. Nancy McDaniel

    I am thrilled to see how far The Rand Club has come. Its future looks bright with leadership like Alicia and new members like you. I was thrilled to have lunch there 20 or so years ago. What a stunning building. COOL that they have hotel rooms now too. “You’ve come a long way, baby” Rand Club!

    • 2summers

      Thanks Nancy. I hope you’ll come stay sometime!

  6. AutumnAshbough

    I would totally join a former old white men’s club, probably just for the novelty and “screw you” factor. And who wouldn’t want to be able to work in their library and get dinner discounts, etc.?

    • 2summers

      Exactly. I’m so excited.

  7. Graham

    I was a member for 15 years from the late 1980’s and resigned, like many others when Sandton became the new business hub of South Africa. Many happy memories. I will definitely pop in and visit again.In the library on the one side, there were no books on the second shelf from the bottom. The reason for this was many retired ex chairman and directors who would go to the club in the late morning to read local and overseas newspapers. Should you be in the library and happen to make a noise at that time you would get very dirty looks. Those members would then go for lunch, good wine and few ports. After lunch retire to library, onto the leather arm chairs, feet up on the second shelf and it was very difficult to concentrate because of the loud snoring!!!

      • George VI

        David Bullard’s old haunt! Pity he ain’t still there lending quality to the atmosphere.



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