The original plans state that The Garrick Club is instituted for the general patronage of drama; for the purpose of combining the use of a Club, on economic principles, with the advantages of a literary society; for bringing together supporters of drama; and for the formation of a theatrical library, with works on costume. It also has a significant art collection and various theatrical artifacts. The main staircase is dominated by a portrait of the actor David Garrick in costume as royalty. The Literary Society meets at the club once a month. The club is also favoured by members of the legal profession.
The Garrick does not admit women as members, unlike its New York counterpart, The Players in Gramercy Park, which began to do so in 1989. The Players was largely modeled upon the Garrick when American actor Edwin Booth founded it in 1888, and since these two clubs are similar in their purpose, they exchange temporary membership privileges for visitors. This led to a confrontation when one of New York's leading producers (female) had a show on in London, tried to have lunch at the Garrick, and couldn't get in. In exasperation, upon return to New York, she resigned her membership.
On 30 April 2007 Fleur Deeson and Sophie Morris made Garrick Club history by becoming the first woman to be admitted to a club talk. The talk, held in the Garrick library, was an account of the history and ecology of Tanzania's Kilimanjaro, the world's highest freestanding mountain at 5895m, and was given by Marcus Risdell, mountaineer and Garrick Club curator.