I am writing this in the Tokyo American Club because it has a reciprocal agreement with the National Liberal Club. It’s very much a Tokyo haven for North Americans and their sometimes boisterous families, although parts of the club - especially the bars and the rather splendid Winter Gardens - are (thankfully?) reserved for adults. The Club is in a five-storey, modern but beautifully-designed building whose crowning glory is the roof-top swimming pool, with good surveillance opportunities of most of the foreign embassies in Tokyo (Russia and Afghanistan are close neighbours). There is a gym and fitness centre, which I avoided, and a library from Milton Keynes, which I frequented. The Club also boasts a Family Changing Room, useful if you don’t particularly like your current one. The dress code is smart casual: a boon for those of who are travelling the World to avoid tuxes. The food is more American than Japanese, but still good, and not over-expensive by Tokyo standards. Reasonable wine list.
The Club charges reciprocal members a 5,000 Yen (about £30) returnable deposit for the electronic key and card, and a non-returnable 5,000 Yen fee for using the Club for a fortnight, which you may do thrice-yearly. A letter of introduction is very much required. The mainly Japanese staff are friendly, polite and efficient. Everything works. Accommodation available.
It is quite different from the reciprocal clubs I visited since I embarked on my post-retirement tour of the World. The clubs in India (in Secunderabad, Bombay, Delhi and Calcutta) all retained echoes of the architecture, traditions, mores and cuisine of the British Raj, albeit with a new ruling caste. All had good libraries and wonderful large rooms with large armchairs in which to escape the Indian-ness of India and relax. They tended to be surrounded by extensive grounds with traditional swimming and sports facilities. They were clubbable, with members who were more than happy to spend time chatting about their lives and country. The service was variable: in one club, it got steadily worse on successive visits, until a member vouchsafed that you needed surreptitiously to undermine the no-tipping rule. No charges for reciprocal members, but they tended to make heavy weather of verifying my credentials.
I will not be critical of the British Club in Bangkok, as I hope to re-visit. It was an oasis of phlegmatic, old-fashioned Britishness: a pleasant early 20th Century building nestling among the skyscrapers and chaos of the city centre. Had both Thai and British menus. I accidentally gate-crashed an Agatha Christie film evening and then a club committee meeting looking for the bar. They were very good about it, considering.