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The atmospheric Courtrooms conference and event space at Browns Bar & Brasserie Covent Garden has been refurbished. Built in 1908, the Courtrooms occupy the Grade II-listed site of the former Westminster Law Courts. The four function rooms retain many of the original features such as magnificent sweeping staircases, judges' benches and chandeliered ceilings. Following the sensitive refurbishment they now boast new interiors, carpets and prints and make an ideal venue for conferences, launches, weddings or parties for up to 150.
Upper Street's loveliest cocktail bar, Albert & Pearl (tel: 020 7354 9993), celebrates its first birthday this month, kicking off with a party on Friday featuring a DJ set from Huey of The Fun Loving Criminals and T4 presenter Jameela Jamil. The night will include complimentary punch, cocktails and food, as well as parlour games and prizes. A great chance to view their three plush private rooms.
Lots of people have been calling our helpline asking for recommendations of outdoor event space - one of our favourites is El Faro, overlooking Crossharbour Dock. It's got a spacious 100-capacity outdoor terrace with calming views of the water, delicious Basque-style tapas and a live music licence. Browse our selection of other great waterside event spaces in London.
As London sweltered in the hottest day of the year so far, 20 chilli enthusiasts brought their finest con carne concoctions to All Star Lanes Brick Lane to compete for the honour of the best chilli in town. Official judges were made up of experienced restaurateurs and food writers, while members of the public turned out in force to cast their votes. Square Meal’s own designer Charlie Nelson walked away with the People’s Choice Award for his chorizo-based and originally titled ‘Charlie Con Carne’. He picks up a night All Star Lanes for him and his pals.
In the heart of the West End, opposite Selfridges on Oxford Street, Parklife is one of the most exciting new venues we've come across for a long time. Available for exclusive or part dry hire, with full event management, it has a mighty 3,950 standing capacity and is completely flexible and adaptable: suitable for product launches, award ceremonies, promotions, fashion shows and film premieres alike. Managed by Progressive Events, the space has been released for hire for a limited period of one year.
Dim-sum chain Ping Pong is launching a delivery service. Ping Pong Now brings its good-value Chinese cooking to your office door. The service has just launched at the Spitalfields branch and will be rolled out across the brand's 11 other locations before the end of the year. Set packages are available for up to 100, with a simple online ordering procedure, and the restaurant aims to deliver all orders within 50 minutes.
Against the backdrop of one of the biggest cricket seasons that England has ever seen (The Ashes started this week), the Brit Oval has just received the go-ahead to build a new stand and hotel at the iconic ground. The stand will increase capacity to 25,000 while the four-star Arora International Hotel will provide 168 bedrooms and a much-needed accommodation option in the area. Other news from the venue - OCS has signed up for another 10 years of sponsorship of its flagship stand.
A vibrant addition to shiny new Bermondsey Square, the fifth branch of the successful Del’Aziz is also the biggest in the Eastern Mediterranean deli-restaurant chain. The colourful all-day café area makes a laidback setting for mezze & drinks, while sit-down dinners can be held in the self-contained 70-seater dining room. But the stand-out entertaining space is the raised Moroccan-style lounge bar, which can take 70 for a cocktail reception and has views onto the remains of the 12th-century crypt of Bermondsey Abbey through a glass floor. Alfresco areas on the square are also available.
In anticipation of the wonderful summer of cricket ahead, Mint Catering (tel: 020 8459 2773) has put together a couple of excellent Ashes Drop-Offs, at £19.95pp including delivery (minimum numbers apply). Choose between the Pommie, with Pimms and traditional canapés, and the Aussie, with VB lager, shrimp and meat pie.
Those mourning the closure of Double Club this weekend can take solace in the form of another pop-up venue, based in Covent Garden. Opera Quarter (tel: 020 7263 9304) sprawls over three floors of a Georgian townhouse, with private hire of the whole space holding 150. You can also hire any of the three funky floors, filled with contemporary art, separately. The venue is only open until the end of August so you'll have to be quick off the mark!
Bucking recessionary trends, Charles Boyd is set to launch a striking new venue, Northumberland House State Rooms while forming a new business operating under the name Hamilton Boyd Ltd to manage it. 'I will continue to develop and support the Chester Boyd business while using my skills and experience of this niche sector to become a venue owner in my own right,' says Boyd, who will also maintain his ongoing commitment to Charlton House. The new venue, set to open early next year, will seat 500 and has a ballroom described by English Heritage as 'the grandest example of a Victorian ballroom in existence.'
On the site of the old Salmon & Compass pub in Chapel Market, The Compass (tel: 020 7837 3891), with its upstairs private dining/event space seating 40, makes a relaxing space for City workers to escape up the Northern Line. The room also has its own bar and can be used for screenings or presentations. Food is excellent and a notch above the usual gastropub fare.
Conference facility has successfully passed the Green Tourism Business Scheme (GBTS) at Bronze level, thanks to its efforts to ensure all meeting materials are recyclable (even the pencils are produced from recycled newspaper). The venue is currently offering a 50% discount on meeting room hire.
The Met Bar and luxury lingerie brand The Modern Courtesan have created the perfect daytime hospitality for female clients – sassy ‘Seduction Classes’ served with a delectable slice of cake on the side. Enjoy an afternoon menu of healthy cupcakes and cocktails and listen to a range of speakers, from best selling authors to burlesque performers. Tickets are priced at £50 per person and must be purchased in advance. The next event takes place on 8 August from 4-6pm.
The Congress Centre has announced plans to refurbish its entire reception/registration area to create an impressive new entrance space. Work will commence later this month and will be completed by early September. The new registration area will include an impressive long glass registration desk complete with back-lit colour-changing discs and a 103-inch integrated plasma screen (the largest on the market). The aim is to make the area brighter and more welcoming, as well as facilitate client branding.
We're big fans of Mayor Boris Johnson, so we made sure we were at the ceremonious 'bolting' into place of the final beam of Park Plaza Westminster Bridge (tel: 0844 415 6790) hotel on Tuesday. London's largest ever new build hotel is scheduled to open in spring 2010, with 16 storeys boasting uninterrupted views of the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. The £350m hotel will feature more than 1,000 guest rooms and 2,700sq m of meeting space.
The Smirnoff Black Screenings have returned to Bluebird this summer following a highly successful inauguration last year. With a screening every Wednesday until 2 September, you can enjoy the likes of The Dark Knight and Casino Royale, preceded by a two-course menu and a Smirnoff Black cocktail. Bluebird has also launched its own private screening package, where you can view a film of your choice along with Champagne, canapés and ice-cream sundaes, from £55pp for groups of 25-60.
Popular west London gastropub Paradise by way of Kensal Green (tel: 020 8969 0098) has introduced a 'Host Your Own Roast' concept, catering for up to 18 people. Guests can choose from six different roasts accompanied by roast potatoes in duck fat, Yorkshire puddings and all the trimmings. The three-course private roast is hosted (and carved!) by head chef Tim Payne (star of Hell's Kitchen) and held either in the venue's Reading Room or upstairs in the private dining room.
One of London's oldest hotels, Hazlitt's (tel: 020 7434 1771) in Soho has launched a stylish new meeting space. The Wardrobe, which was once used as a place of safety for aristocrats’ valuables, now seats up to 12 guests. The wood-panelled and air-conditioned meeting room has been designed to capitalise on natural daylight and brought up to 21st century standards with hi-tech presentation equipment, alongside antiques and curios. Day delegate rates start at £75.