Looking for love—or just a night out—among the jet set?
If you want to mingle with the rich and single you have to know where they are—and when they're there. As the seasons change, so do their hangouts—and, like the economy, this party is global.
Bars and restaurants are the stage but not necessarily the draw. Many of the hottest destinations have earned their place on the circuit because of a local cultural event—say, a charity fund-raiser, fashion show, sporting contest or art festival. Others just have a certain je ne sais quoi.
Manhattan is always a good bet for scaring up the well-heeled and unattached. Better yet, says David Patrick Columbia, editor of New York Social Diary, an online publication chronicling New York society, the upper crust is easier to crack there than in many other cities.
"I think the reason young people come to New York is because it's the city of opportunity and the city of opportunity socially," he says. "Most of the people who are on the tippy-top of the social ladder weren't always there. You can make anything of your life in Manhattan."
New York's charity circuit, spanning several months from February through the summer, is a siren song for the elite. The best bet for singles is the Young Fellows of The Frick Collection Ball, just held last week on March 13 in Manhattan's tony Upper East Side.
"The Frick is probably the most sterling meeting place for singles that you can possibly go to," says Columbia. "It attracts a wide variety of people, and it's an attractive bunch."
Better yet, the ball is more affordable, relatively speaking: Tickets go for just $250 per person—less than the cost of a bottle of vodka at many high-end clubs.
Two and a half hours east of Manhattan, the polo grounds at Bridgehampton are another proving ground for moneyed, mingling singles. And the VIP tents provide ample eye candy. Just one problem: cracking the guest lists.
"I can't tell you what people do to get on the list," says Noah Tepperberg, owner of New York-based Strategic Group, an events and marketing company that organizes the Bridgehampton matches, held on Saturdays throughout August. "Polo matches are hands down the biggest pick-up scene for wealthy people."
Hit Milan, Italy, during Fashion Week in mid-February—specifically the Just Cavalli Café, owned by clothing designer Roberto Cavalli.
Encased in glass and located smack in the middle of verdant Sempione Park, the café attracts models, fashion designers and celebrities, including Sharon Stone and Steven Tyler (both currently single). After dark, it transforms into a disco club. Cavalli and his wife, Eva, redecorate the interior every season, typically in different animal themes.
What better way to troll for high cheekbones and deep wallets—all while getting a healthy dose of culture—than at an international film festival?
While at the Cannes Film Festival (in Cannes, France) in mid-May, head to Le Baoli. Looking like a scene from the movie Arabian Nights, this restaurant and club hosts several festival parties. Guests dine on Asian cuisine in a garden of palm trees and under billowing canopies. The disco revs up after midnight, and the likes of Elton John, Brad Pitt, Jay-Z and Kylie Minogue have all turned up.
After hitting Cannes, move along the Mediterranean to Monaco. The city plays host to Formula 1's Grand Prix and the hordes of millionaires (and billionaires) who come to watch.
The yacht parties are fun—if you can get in. An easier bet, but still catering to folks like Rod Stewart, is Jimmy'z, a night club with a retractable ceiling that lets you dance under the stars. Doors open at 11 p.m. and shut at 5 a.m.
Hyper-cosmopolitan Dubai is quickly becoming a playground for the rich and single. It's best to go in December (temperatures in the summer months can top 120 degrees Fahrenheit), when celebrities such as George Clooney flock for the city's international film festival.
In Dubai, stay at the striking Burj-al-Arab hotel—the self-proclaimed only seven-star hotel in the world—with its super high-end restaurant and bar, resembles a giant billowing sail. Many of the 202 suites go for $5,000 to $10,000 a night and come with their own butler.
While elite singles strain to uncover new, cutting-edge locales, Tyler Thoreson, executive editor of Men.Style.com, the online home of GQ and Details magazines, says he has also seen a trend back toward traditional haunts. "There's a little bit of hip fatigue out there and a return to classic old-world splendor and opulence," he says. "A new generation is discovering the brand of old-world luxury."
Case in point: Le Club 55, an opulent club on Pampelonne beach in St. Tropez. Once a small fishing village, St. Tropez caught the eye of celebrities in the 1950s. Brigitte Bardot started lunching daily at Le Club 55 while filming the movie "And God Created Woman".
Now the club is one of the best places to see and be seen in St. Tropez—especially during Boat Week in late July. Bono and Denzel Washington have dropped by, and, in perhaps the ultimate homage, private equity tycoon Stephen Schwarzman tricked out his Park Avenue apartment to look like Le Club 55 club for his 55th birthday.
But no matter where the party is, if you want to run with this crowd, remember one thing: Bring your wallet.