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22 July 2014

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Venue Focus - Oxo Tower

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From bouillon central to destination restaurant, Louise Troy charts the success of Oxo Tower and finds it’s also become a top events venue


Oxo Tower London The Champagne corks were popping at Oxo Tower last year, when the top-floor operation at the riverside landmark celebrated 10 years as one of London’s most successful restaurants. Indeed, Champagne corks have been popping for a decade now. On the day of its 10th anniversary, we heard that Oxo had opened an impressive 891,270 bottles of bubbly and attracted more than 2.4 million customers. Few can compete with that.

Located on Bargehouse Street on the South Bank, the building was originally a power station but was bought by the eponymous stock cube maker in the 1920s. After its requests to adorn the building with an advert for the product were rejected by planning authorities, the tower was rebuilt to incorporate the trademark windows spelling out the word Oxo.

Today, the tower is home to various galleries, shops and eateries, but the star attractions are the four spaces owned by Harvey Nichols: the Oxo Restaurant, Oxo Brasserie and Oxo Bar, plus the second-floor space that once housed the Riverwalk restaurant but is now a dedicated events venue. All boast stunning views of the river, stretching from 30 St Mary Axe (aka the Gherkin) to the BA London Eye, and all are available for private hire.

The on-site team is committed to making each event at Oxo special, so the venue only hosts about a dozen a year (not including the new events space). Such exclusivity comes at a price: hire of the restaurant or brasserie starts from £30,000, depending on the time of year and day of the week, and exclusive use of the bar will set you back at least £8,000.

Clients such as private equity firm Cinven feel the cost is justified. Marketing executive Candice Dolby booked the restaurant for the company’s summer party last year, and will be returning this year. ‘It’s an exquisite setting for alfresco and evening events,’ she says. ‘The views are breathtaking and the service excellent.’

Although the restaurant and brasserie share the same floor, noise from one doesn’t spill into the other. That means clients who hire the whole floor can have the main party in full swing in the brasserie, which has its own bar, and reserve the restaurant for a more relaxed VIP section.

The restaurant is decorated in a restrained palette of grey and red, offering no distraction from the stunning views and luxurious dishes such as slow roast partridge and confit sea trout. It can be hired exclusively – 150 seated or 350 standing – and the largest table seats eight people.

The brasserie and bar together can accommodate 400 standing, but it’s a more flexible option as the bar can be hired exclusively or part-hired for up to 50 guests. There’s also the viewing terrace, which is available for pre- or post-theatre cocktails for parties of 40 or so.

Downstairs on the second floor, the purple and cream space can hold 200 seated or 350 standing. It has its own kitchen in the basement. All of the spaces can be decorated in the client’s brand colours, and the team prides itself on its ability to handle large-scale productions.

‘For the Dutch Flower Association, we had hundreds of tulips on the terrace, all lit up,’ says events manager Christie Cox. ‘And for Coca-Cola, we hung red canopies from the ceiling.’

No doubt there will be plenty more where that came from. Here’s to the second decade!


VITAL STATISTICS

Address: Bargehouse Street, SE1 9PH

Tel: 020 7803 3888

Web: squaremeal.co.uk/oxo

Number of function rooms: 4

Capacities (meeting/dinner/reception):

Oxo Brasserie (150/150/350)

Oxo Restaurant (150/150/350)

Oxo Bar (50/50/100)

Oxo Private Dining (–/120/220)

Contact: Jacinta Phelan, general manager


This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events magazine,  Spring 2007.


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