21 August 2014

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What is the most important factor when booking a venue for a Christmas party?


Venue Focus - InterContinental London Park Lane


Worth the Wait
Park Lane’s long–anticipated relaunch impresses with striking contemporary space and immaculate attention to detail. Louise Troy takes a look around

bar_busy_cmyk.jpg_Intercontinental_3.jpg From the meeting rooms of the InterContinental on Park Lane you get an unparalleled view of the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. But you’ll see even more impressive changes inside the hotel itself. After 16 months of refurbishment at a cost of £72 million, the Hyde Park stalwart offers a fresh look, elegant guest rooms, two new restaurants (Theo Randall and the Cookbook Café) and an entire floor of events spaces.

Because the hotel is the flagship of an international brand, the redesign has focused on the InterContinental’s London credentials. The bar, for example, features a ‘greatest hits’ of cocktails reproduced (with permission) from the city’s trendiest bars.

Not surprisingly for a project this big – the length of electrical wire alone could wrap around the world 80 times – there have been a few delays and glitches. But, after a soft opening in November, the hotel will be back in full operation from April.
Its mezzanine floor is devoted to conferences, meetings and banqueting, and combines the latest gadgets with classic brown and cream decor and natural daylight. The rooms are named after London markets, such as Covent Garden, and are fitted with built-in speakers, air-conditioning, audio-visual equipment and decorative lighting capabilities. Several also have flat-screen TVs tucked behind leather squares on the walls.

Stand-out spaces include the long, narrow Leadenhall room, which can be divided into five separate spaces using solid partitions, and the Ballroom, which holds 600 seated or 750 standing. The latter has its own entrance and foyer at ground level and can be divided into three. Both the Leadenhall and the Ballroom offer great scope for organisers to put their own mark on events against a contemporary backdrop.

As befits a property with two destination restaurants, the InterContinental serves excellent banqueting food. Three-course set menus start from £64 and feature dishes such as shellfish cappuccino, honey-glazed duck breast and apple tarte fine to finish.

We hear the catering went down a storm with Brazil’s football team, which took over an entire floor of the hotel on a recent visit, and there have been no complaints from event organisers either.

Kate Slesinger, publisher of Condé Nast Traveller, held her magazine’s Christmas party in the InterContinental’s Marylebone and Leadenhall rooms and said the food certainly enhanced the event.

‘The staff went out of their way to devise an interesting menu and to ensure that dinner was served in relaxed surroundings as far removed from [the formality of] the boardroom as possible. We had a great evening, to the extent that the party continued into the small hours downstairs in the lobby listening to live jazz.’

  All around the hotel, from the lobby’s live music to the colour of the function room chairs – green in the rooms on the Piccadilly side and black in those bordering Park Lane – the attention to detail is striking. And this, insists events director Wendy Alders, is the venue’s big selling point. ‘We care about the little things,’ she says.

lobby_cmyk.jpg_Intercontinental_8.jpgVITAL STATISTICS
Address: 1 Hamilton Place, W1J 7QY
Tel: 020 7409 3131
Email: [email protected]
Web: squaremeal.co.uk/ic-london
Number of bedrooms: 447
Number of function rooms: 15
Capacities (meeting/dinner/reception):
Ballroom 1-3 combined (700/708/750)
Ballroom 1 (400/396/600)
Park Lane 1-5 combined (180/144/600)
Ballroom 2 (80/216/400)
Ballroom 3 (60/120/220)
Park Lane 6 (80/72/150)
Park Lane 5 (50/48/80)
Park Lane 4 (45/48/70)
Park Lane 3 (40/36/60)
Park Lane 1 (30/24/40)
Park Lane 2 (35/36/50)
Various (4-14/-/-)
Contact: Wendy Alders, events director

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

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