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The new-look finally reopened last November, following a meaty £22m redesign that took two years to complete. Has it been worth the wait? Absolutely. The entire museum is now available for exclusive evening hire: guests enter through the funky, Conran-designed World City gallery featuring giant global tube maps; then get whisked up in the Time Traveller lift to mingle amongst Routemaster buses, trams, locomotives and vintage transport posters and artwork. There’s room for 500 standing or 200 seated guests, and presentations or corporate branding are impressively catered for by the multimedia Connections exhibit space. Daytime meetings can be held in the Cubic Theatre, where all 120 seats are upholstered in the same fabric as LU tubes. The theatre features a breakout area and has a dedicated staircase leading from the museum’s new glass reception. Searcy’s masterminds the in-house catering and have even created a Routemaster cocktail, along with other suitably transport-related tipples.
When you hire The Deck at the National Theatre, you hire the whole of London – figuratively speaking. The views from this light-flooded function space are some of the most spectacular we’ve seen, panning from the ‘Gherkin’ across to Big Ben. Available from April to October, entertain up to 80 dinner guests or 100 delegates on the large alfresco terrace surrounded by a striking translucent cube structure with retractable glass walls in case of inclement weather. At night, hi-tech lighting works to enhance, rather than detract from, the London skyline.
Fans of light and airy wallacespace Covent Garden will be pleased to note that a second space is opening in April in King’s Cross. wallacespace St Pancras (tel: 020 7395 1265) is just two minutes walk from the station and at twice the size of the Dryden Street venue, has plenty of space for modish meetings. The building is a roomy 12,000 sq ft warehouse (once a toffee factory) on four floors, with varied-size spaces holding from two to 120 and a breezy basement café leading onto an outside deck. The third floor has interesting ‘apartment-style’ loft-space rooms and plenty of flexible breakout areas and email pick-up points are provided throughout.
At Proud was reborn as Proud Camden (tel: 020 7482 3867) last week in Camden's famous Grade II-listed Stables Market. Holding up to 800 indoors or 200 outdoors, it's set to be the hot venue ticket for spring/summer functions. 10,000 sq.ft spread over three rooms also ranks it as one of the largest gallery spaces and live music venues in London. The Stables Room is one of the most innovative spaces, with erstwhile stables converted into intimate, individually designed booths.
29th-floor Altitude is proving a popular choice for politicians of late. First David Cameron, then Gordon Brown and most recently Republican Senator John McCain have chosen it as an iconic London backdrop for their meetings and campaigns.