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There’s nothing like a breathtaking panorama to give your event fresh perspective. We’ve hunted high and low to bring you the most scenic spaces in London, the UK and worldwide
The capital’s tallest buildings and the scoop on their event space
LONDON HILTON (110m)
LOFTY SPACE: Galvin at Windows, 100m
Book well ahead for events on the top floor of the London Hilton, where wraparound views and Michelin-starred cooking combine to make restaurant tables hot property. ‘The Balcony’ juts out from the rest of the dining room, seating 18 guests on a single table. Alternatively, consider cocktail receptions in the bar, which takes up to 90.
CENTRE POINT (117m)
LOFTY SPACE: Paramount, 114m
The private members’ club on top of the Centre Point tower has a dedicated events floor and has also recently opened its restaurant to the public. Interiors are by award-winning British designer Tom Dixon and the venue is licensed to hold civil wedding ceremonies as well as late-night parties (with 24-hour alcohol licensing on request).
MILLBANK TOWER (119m)
LOFTY SPACE: Altitude 360, 112m
As the name suggests, Altitude 360 offers views towards all four corners of London, most notably across the Houses of Parliament to the river Thames and London Eye. There’s over 8,300sq ft of event space on the 29th floor, which has gleaming white floors and black leather window seats, with further rooms available on lower floors.
THE LONDON EYE (135m)
LOFTY SPACE: The Capsules, 135m
Individual capsules on The London Eye take up to 25 guests and events are hassle-free to book, thanks to a range of tempting packages, including Champagne and chocolate tastings or seasonal receptions based on Pimm’s or mulled wine. Larger groups can take over the entire wheel, hopping on an off the 30-minute flights.
PAN PENINSULA (147m)
LOFTY SPACE: The Attic Bar, 144m
This luxurious cocktail bar on the 48th floor of the UK’s tallest residential building offers 360-degree views of the London skyline from an eastern perspective. Access is usually reserved for residents and diners with confirmed bookings in the building’s ground-floor restaurant but packages (from £25pp) can be arranged for private hire.
3 Pan Peninsula Square, E14 9HN,tel: 020 8858 2437
M:60 D:- R:60
30 ST MARY AXE (180m)
LOFTY SPACE: 40/30, 175m
Strictly members and tenants only by day, the top two floors under the apex of ‘The Gherkin’ can be hired for exclusive events in the evenings and at weekends. At other times, head for Level 38, where a suite of private rooms seats up to 16 each. Searcy’s serves up excellent food and the views, through those trademark windows, are breathtaking.
TOWER 42 (183m)
LOFTY SPACE: Vertigo 42, 181m
The 150-capacity Champagne bar on the top floor of the former NatWest Tower can be hired exclusively from Monday to Friday for a minimum spend of £9,500. Alternatively, you can book places for smaller groups. The West End-facing view is best at sunset. A private dining room for 30 is available in the Gary Rhodes restaurant on level 24.
25 Old Broad Street, London EC2N 1HQ,
tel: 020 7877 7843
M:30 D:30 R:150
BT TOWER (189m)
LOFTY SPACE: The former restaurant, 180m
We’re told only BT is allowed to hold events on the top floor of its eponymous tower but rumours abound that the former restaurant will once again open its doors to the public. Despite being one of the most recognisable buildings in town, this London landmark, previously protected by the Official Secrets Act, was omitted from Ordnance Survey maps until the mid-90s.
60 Cleveland Street, W1T 4JZ,
no phone number or official capacities available
HERON TOWER (202m)
LOFTY SPACE: Restaurant & Skybar, 175m
Due for completion in March 2011, The Restaurant & Skybar will occupy floors 39 and 40 of The Heron Tower, serving top-notch food and drink from early morning to late night. The 13,423sq ft space will be accessed via a pair of scenic glass lifts set to travel straight to the bar entrance on level 39. If you can’t wait until next year to see it, you’ll get great views of the site from Tower 42 in the meantime.
110 Bishopsgate, EC2, tel: 020 7291 9607, no official capacities available.
ONE CANADA SQUARE (235m)
LOFTY SPACE: Regus Canary Wharf, 116m
The temporary office giant has four meeting rooms in its Canary Wharf suite, located on the 29th floor of One Canada Square. Other facilities include virtual offices, a video-conferencing studio and breakout areas with Sky TV. Space can be rented by the hour and prices include hi-speed internet as well as local and national calls.
29th floor, One Canada Square, E14 5AB,tel: 020 7712 1500
M:25 D:- R:-
Entertain against the backdrop of the capital’s iconic skyline
It’s hard to beat the panoramas served up by the skyscrapers on p.114 but you don’t have to scale dizzy heights to enjoy landmark views. For instance, just around the corner from Altitude 360,
you’ll find the City Inn Westminster and its intimate 14th-floor Sky Lounge, which brings the Parliament
vistas up close. We hear the same chain is planning a similar space for its new City hotel, due to launch later this year.
You’ve got to love the view from the restaurant in The National Portrait Gallery (tel: 020 7321 6643), which takes in Nelson’s Column and Big Ben as it sweeps across Trafalgar Square to Whitehall. In-house caterer Searcy’s proffers a suitably British menu and there’s room to entertain up to 200 guests.
Fancy a butcher’s at Boris’ office? After years of in-house and charity events City Hall (tel: 020 7983 4000) has recently opened its doors to the wider events market. The top spot for views is London’s Living Room on the ninth floor, a 250-capacity space with floor-to-ceiling windows and a wrap-around balcony, both serving up generous slices of the City & Docklands skyline, alongside up-close views of Tower Bridge.
Thespians will love the Balcony Room at Shakespeare’s Globe. As the name suggests, there is outside space and, with two balconies, the 120-capacity room not only overlooks the theatre itself but there’s also a gorgeous head-on view of St Paul’s. Catering is overseen by Mark Sargeant. Similar vistas are served up at the OXO Tower (tel: 020 7803 3888) and Tate Modern (tel: 020 7887 8689).
Heading west across the Thames, views from the Riverside Room at IET Savoy Place take in a busy stretch of river including Hungerford footbridge, Big Ben and the London Eye. The venue is currently offering a ‘Pimm’s & Panorama’ package for £50 per guest, which covers exclusive hire, bowl food and, of course, a Pimm’s reception.
The hottest news for summer is that Michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens has opened an alfresco restaurant on The River Terrace at Somerset House. The terrace, when combined with the function rooms above, holds up to
500 guests and hire costs start at £12,000.
Across the river on the roof of the National Theatre is The Deck, a dedicated function space for parties of up to 120. With retractable walls opening up to a large balcony area, it comes into its own on warm summer days but will also offer shelter if the weather’s not playing ball.
Indoor options with lovely Thameside views include the 650-capacity River Room London on the second floor of the Millbank Tower, which can be used in conjunction with sister venue Altitude 360 (see p. 114); the River Rooms at The Mermaid; and the River Room at Glazier’s Hall.
Combining alfresco lawns with a sizable marquee above Cannon Street station, Cannon Bridge Roof Garden can host 500 guests for outside receptions, while offering shelter for 400 indoors. Views include St Paul’s Cathedral and Tate Modern, plus – of course – the river in between, and party packages start at £105+VAT.
Those looking for a ‘Thames Riviera’ feel, should try Battersea newcomer Rafayel on the Left Bank, where you can watch the jet-set come and go via the London Heliport. Its Japanese Garden Terrace takes 200 and connects to an indoor event space with the same capacity.
If you can’t decide on a single view, the simple solution is to catch a river boat from either Woods River Cruises or Bateaux London, which both operate luxury vessels on the Thames.
For a complete list of riverside venues, click on ‘Thames Riverside’ under ‘Top Venue Menus’ in the left-hand column of the V&E home page
People love a good view of Tower Bridge, but not everyone knows that you can actually hold events in the famous
landmark itself. For views, you’ll want to head for one of the two walkways, which each takes 120 for dinner or 250 for drinks receptions. Those who can’t choose between the east or west-facing
vistas can book both, double the capacity and let guests decide whether to mingle looking towards Canary Wharf or the City and West End.
There’s no need for sturdy sea legs on a moored Thames vessel but the likes of HMS Belfast can add a fun nautical theme to events, particularly when you throw in waiting staff in sailor’s costumes. The river views are, of course, excellent and there’s space for 250 guests on the quarterdeck. Summer party packages start at £54+VAT per person.
Guests will appreciate the novelty of an event in The Wellington Arch. The rooftop balconies of this former police station keep a watchful eye over Buckingham Palace and its gardens – with the courts just below, you might even catch a glimpse of The Queen in her tennis whites – and while the Burton Room below doesn’t have any views, you’re only a spiral staircase away from a 360-vista from the middle of Hyde Park Corner.
You can soak up a different kind of national history in the Media Centre at Lord’s. The egg-shaped venue overlooking the cricket ground is painted sky blue on the inside, making guests feel like they’re floating in mid-air. It can take 70 for meetings, 50 for dinner or 100 for a drinks reception. Another sporty venue is The View in the East End, where the terrace offers head-on views of the 2012 Olympic Park and Stadium.
Want to party like a rockstar? Book the COMO Suite – that’s the penthouse – in the Metropolitan where the Hyde Park views focus on the festival area. Just note that you’ll have to get in quick to entertain here during the summer concert season as this is often the bolthole of choice for the artists themselves. Room hire costs from £2,000 with an overnight stay for two included.
Views don’t get much more West End than at The Penthouse on Leicester Square. The venue comprises three glossy floors, ranging in capacity from 175-300, and makes a
great vantage point from which to catch the media circus surrounding the high-profile film premieres held in the Odeon cinema below. You can even have your own red carpet laid out for the occasion.
A minimum spend of £1,500 applies.
The international Aqua Restaurant Group (tel: 020 7478 0540) rolled into town at the end of last year with two restaurants (one Spanish, one Japanese), a stylish cocktail bar and a host of celebrities in tow. Kylie Minogue and George Clooney have both been spotted at events in this 400-capacity venue, where the sleek space includes a gorgeous roof terrace with views of Regent Street.
Another dining room worth noting is Nippon Tuk on the 23rd floor of the Hilton London Metropole, which serves up a very urban panorama alongside Asian food and cocktails. Then, of course, there’s Nipa at the Lancaster London and Galvin at Windows on top of the skyscraping London Hilton (see above), which both offer Hyde Park views.
Our favourite park view in London comes courtesy of Min Jiang at the Royal Garden Hotel. With Kensington Gardens in the foreground and the sprawl of Hyde Park framed by the West End skyline in the distance, it’s particularly stunning at dusk, when all the lights start twinkling. The 20-seater private room is set back from the main restaurant but cleverly placed mirrors help capture the view.
Just down the road from here are the Roof Gardens, where the 500-capacity event space looks – and spills – out across the Spanish and Tudor gardens. Perched on top is the glass-fronted Babylon restaurant and its 12-seater private dining room, which has its own balcony above the flamingo pond.
SPINNAKER TOWER (170m)
LOFTY SPACE: View Deck 2, 105m
The iconic sail-shaped tower shoots up into the blue above Portsmouth harbour, with 23-mile panoramas on a clear day and Europe’s largest glass floor on Deck 1. Abseilers can be arranged to drape branding down the deck windows. Morning or evening hire available.
MANCHESTER HILTON, BEETHAM TOWER (157m)
LOFTY SPACE: Cloud 23, 90m
Queues for this spacious 23rd-floor cocktail bar stretch round the block at weekends but the floor-to-ceiling views over the city are worth the wait. Groups can take the larger West Lounge, which has the sunsets, while the 40-capacity East Lounge works well earlier on.
303 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LQ, tel: 0161 870 1700
M:80 D: - R:120
LIVERPOOL RADIO CITY TOWER (150m)
LOFTY SPACE: The Zoo, 147m
Set in a working radio station tower, Zoo – a stand-up space – and its adjacent boardroom have hosted intimate gigs by the likes of McFly and The Noisettes. Views reach out to Blackpool Tower and North Wales on a clear day. Catering is out-sourced.
St Johns Beacon, 1 Houghton Street, Liverpool L1 1RL, tel: 0151 472 6800
M:16 D:46 R:100
RADISSON BLU HOTEL, BEETHAM TOWER (122m)
LOFTY SPACE: 1820 Presidential Suite, 70m
The smart self-contained 18th-floor Presidential Suite makes an intimate setting for meeting and private dining, with views sweeping out across the Bullring towards Birmingham City FC and beyond. Small dinners work particularly well.
12 Holloway Circus, Queensway, Birmingham, B1 1BT, tel: 0121 654 6000
M:8 D:14 R:20
PARK PLAZA LEEDS (77m)
LOFTY SPACE: Top-floor suites, 74m
A central location on City Square opposite the station isn’t the only selling point of this clean business-friendly hotel. Two bright corner suites on the 20th floor have views across the city and beyond through wall-to-wall windows. Living areas come with separate guest bathrooms.
BALTIC CENTRE FOR CONTEMPORARY ART (45m)
LOFTY SPACE: Six Restaurant, 42m
Spaces at BALTIC include a blank-canvas function room, lovely river-view PDRs, and a 54-seater cinema, but the highest is Six, the airy modern European restaurant on the top floor, which looks across to the Tyne Bridge and beyond. The sunsets are spectacular.
South Shore Road, Gateshead NE8 3BA, tel: 0191 440 4948
M:120 D:100 R:250
SWANSEA MERIDIAN QUAY BUILDING (95m)
LOFTY SPACE: 27th-29th Floor, 90m
The plush three-level space at the top of Swansea’s Meridian Quay building boasts vistas across the marina. Formerly occupied by the ill-fated Penthouse Restaurant, it’s not formally run as an event space but is a plum spot for big-budget, dry-hire events.
Meridian Quay, Swansea, SA1 1YJ, phone number not available
M:- D:170 R 200
CARDIFF MERCURE HOLLAND HOTEL (57m)
LOFTY SPACE: The John Charles Suite, 55m
The Mercure’s spacious Presidential Suite takes up a whole wing of the hotel and offers views over Cardiff bay and the city. Hire starts from a very reasonable £215, including the use of the two double bedrooms. There’s WiFi throughout for meetings too.
24 Newport Road CF24 0DD, tel: 029 2043 5002
M:10 D:10 R: 50
THE LIGHTHOUSE GLASGOW (30m)
LOFTY SPACE: Viewing platform, 27m
Originally the offices for the Glasgow Herald, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the lighthouse is now a £13m arts centre. The viewing platform, accessible via a spiral staircase, can be hired out for private dining from £170/hour plus catering costs.
11 Mitchell Lane, Glasgow, G1 3NU, tel: 0141 276 5362
M:- D:12 R:-
EUROPA BELFAST (51m)
LOFTY SPACE: The Penthouse, 40m
A large event space rather than a bedroom, the Europa’s Penthouse, aka The Edinburgh Suite, has its own private lift, cloakroom and bar. One side looks out across the city and the other over the Lagan river and the famous docks. It’s particularly popular for parties.
Great Victoria Street, Belfast, BT2 7AP, tel: 028 9026 6010
M:150 D:120 R:150
DUBLIN GUINNESS STOREHOUSE (43m)
LOFTY SPACE: The Gravity Bar, 40m
Glass elevators catapult guests up to Gravity Bar, with its 360-degree views of the city. The landmarks of Dublin are etched on the windows, giving newcomers a helpful tour of the skyline. Private hire packages include a tour of the attraction.
121 St James’s Gate, Dublin 8, tel: 00353 1 408 4800
M:100 D:- R:270
SINGAPORE SWISSOTEL, THE STAMFORD (226m)
LOFTY SPACE: Equinox Centre, 223m
Spread over three floors, the Equinox complex holds five restaurants and bars, the tallest being the stylish New Asia Bar, which holds 30. There are also four private dining rooms, while the entire space can be hired for up to 900.
2 Stamford Road, Singapore, tel: 00 65 6431 5130
M:- D:200 R:900
MORI TOWER, ROPPONGI HILLS (238m)
LOFTY SPACE: Skydeck, 238m
This open-air roof space serves up striking 360-degree views across Tokyo but guests are warned to hold onto their hats as it can get very windy. Book it for product launches or cocktail receptions rather than dinners.
6-10-1 Roppongi Minato-ku, Tokyo, Japan, tel: 00813 6406 6652
M:- D:- R:200
STATE TOWER BANGKOK (247m)
LOFTY SPACE: The State Room, 247m
Capped by the golden dome that crowns Bangkok’s second tallest building, this exclusive event space serves up spectacular 360-degree views. Just below it sits Sirocco, the highest alfresco restaurant in the world. Expect suitably lofty prices: set menus from £92.
1055 Silom Road, Bangkok, Thailand, tel: 0066 2624 9531
M:- D:200 R:350
JUMEIRAH EMIRATES TOWERS (309m)
LOFTY SPACE: Vu’s Bar, 212m
Vistas from the 51st-floor bar of the space-age Jumeirah Emirates Towers stretch across the Dubai skyline to the Arabian Gulf. On the floor below is a celebrated restaurant, with equally fine views and surprisingly affordable prices.
Sheikh Zayed Road City Centre, Dubai, UAE, tel: 00971 4 3198088
M:- D:55 R:70
MENARA KUALA LUMPUR (421m)
LOFTY SPACE: Revolving Restaurant, 282m
Not quite as tall as the Petronas, Menara Tower nevertheless wins the venue stakes with its revolving restaurant. It’s also set on a hill, which adds height. Each 90-minute revolution serves up a complete panorama that, of course, includes the famous twin towers.
TH02 Bukit Nanas, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, tel: 00603 2145 1833
M:- D:220 R:300
THE WILLIS TOWER, CHICAGO (442m)
LOFTY SPACE: Skydeck 440m
Not many venues can claim to have the George Lucas seal of approval. Bets are the Star Wars director wasn’t fazed by its new attraction, ‘The Ledge’, but the thought of standing on a glass floor 1,353ft up makes us weak at the knees.
233 South Wacker Drive, Chicago, IL, USA, tel: 001 312 875 9447
M:300 D:200 R:400
HONG KONG INTERNATIONAL COMMERCE CENTRE (484m)
LOFTY SPACE: Rooftop Bar & Restaurant, 484m
Still being fitted out as we go to press, we’ve been told to expect sleek, contemporary interiors at what’s set to launch as the world’s tallest event space. Hold on tight as the lift shoots up to the 118th floor: we bet the views will be dizzying.
Nga Cheung Road & Austin Road, Hong Kong, China, tel: 00852 2730 0300
M:- D:200 R:300
SHANGHAI WORLD FINANCIAL CENTRE (492m)
LOFTY SPACE: 100 Century Avenue, 460m
The Shanghai Park Hyatt, which occupies the 79th to 93rd floors of this striking building in the city’s business district, dedicates its top three levels to bars, restaurants and entertainment space. Highest of the lot is the sleek events suite, with space for up to 228 level-headed reception guests.
100 Century Avenue, Shanghai, China, tel: 0086 216 888 1234
M:98 D:118 R:228
CN TOWER TORONTO (553m)
LOFTY SPACE: 360 Restaurant, 351m
It takes just 72 minutes to take in the whole of Toronto from the revolving restaurant in the iconic CN Tower. Seasonal menus are matched by a selection of wines from ‘the world’s tallest cellar’: 9,000 bottles at 1,151ft! Event guests also have access to the observatory at 447m.
301 Front Street West, Toronto, Canada, tel: 001 416 362 5411
M:- D:400 R:600
BURJ KHALIFA (828m)
LOFTY SPACE: Observation Deck, 452m
Rather sensibly, alcohol is not permitted on the Observation Deck of the tallest building in the world, although taking in the views does make for a unique break-out activity. The Armani Hotel, located on the eighth floor, has plenty of meeting facilities including the Armani Ballroom and outdoor pavilion. Prices on application.
1 Emaar Boulevard, Dubai, UAE, tel: 00971 4 888 3888
M:500 D:450 R:600
Instead of the traditional Parisian panoramas from the Eiffel Tower, change perspective with a view of the landmark itself from Espace56, the function space on the 56th floor of the Montparnasse Tower (tel: 0033 14538 5256). The clean-lined decor and huge windows give it an exclusive penthouse feel. As well as various catering services, there is also a gourmet restaurant on the same floor. The room holds 300 people and hire starts at around £2,300 for a half-day.
You can’t miss the imposing façade of the former palace that has been stylishly converted into the sophisticated new hotel ME Madrid. The 300-capacity Penthouse Terrace is the stand-out party space, with a private bar and sweeping views over Madrid; all yours for around £1,200 a night. Groups of 20 can also use the space for dining.
The largest meeting space in the W Hotels collection also has the best view. The all-new W Barcelona (tel: 0034 93 295 28 00) recently launched the Great Room, where up to 1,000 delegates can soak
up unobstructed views over the Mediterranean. An adjoining terrace is popular for break-outs and cocktail parties. The Great Room can also be split into three separate spaces, starting at around
£3,300 for each third.
Groups can drink in the panoramas of Lake Geneva from the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace (tel: 0041 21962 1212). For front-row space, book the vaulted La Coupole room, with a capacity for 300 standing and 130 for a banquet. Hire starts at around £600, but there’s no charge for dining. The restaurant also overlooks the lake and the Alps.
High-rise Monaco may not be much of a looker itself, but its position stretching along the Mediterranean coast and number of rooftop event spaces afford it sea views a-plenty. One of the finest of them all if from the huge Fairmont Monte-Carlo (tel: 0808 2343 287), which hugs the cliffs near Casino Square and, since a multi-million Euro refurbishment programme, boasts a lovely seventh-floor deck with endless sea views and glass panels that slide back for a full alfresco experience.
Surely one of the world’s loftiest event spaces, the Business Centre (tel: 0049 88 2179 7992) at the peak of the Zugspitze mountain in southern Germany sits at a dizzying altitude of 2,962m. Commanding views from the state-of-the-art meeting rooms stretch over Austria, Italy, Switzerland and Germany. It’s also home to Germany’s highest beer garden and there’s a chapel for mountain weddings. And for breakouts, how about glacier walking or bob-sledding?
Its crane-like appearance may not be too appealing, but you certainly can’t argue with the views at Erik’s Gondolen (tel: 0046 8 641 70 90), which sits in a prime spot in Sodermalm, central Stockholm. There’s generous dining space and a cocktail bar, as well as the Kungarummet room, which seats 30 and looks out over the water. Gather a group of 20 or more guests and there’s no hire charge either.
Regularly voted the best rooftop bar in New York, the Rooftop Garden at 230 Fifth (tel: 0021 27254 300) is a favourite with the Big Apple’s event organisers. It welcomed over 1,000 of the city’s fashionisti for the premiere party of The Devil Wears Prada. Open 365 days a year thanks to the rooftop heating, winter and autumn events are also an option and guests can slip on one of the signature red hooded fleece gowns if they get chilly. Cocktails are pretty reasonably priced considering the venue’s exclusivity, at around $12.
Just across the water from the Sydney Opera House, The Park Hyatt, Sydney (tel: 0061 2 9256 1234) has stunning views over the harbour. Naturally, the Rooftop Terrace, with its permanent 100-capacity marquee, would be our pick for a Sydney party hotspot. For private dining, the Opera and Harbour Rooms don’t scrimp on the views either, with floor-to-ceiling glass looking across to the Opera House. The rooms can be combined to accommodate up to 80 guests for cocktails or 20 for a private dinner, from around £1,000.
The Gold Coast makes a million-dollar backdrop for events in the Skylight room at Q1 (tel: 0061 75582 2702), the 322.5m tower in Queensland, Australia. The 360-degree view through floor-to-ceiling windows makes this 180-capacity room a jaw-dropping destination for relaxed receptions and dinners.
So close to the Petronas Towers it feels as if you can reach out and touch them (not advised), the Sky Bar (tel: 0060 32332 9888) on the 33rd floor of the Traders Hotel, Kuala Lumpur has sunken seats skirting a huge central pool and masses of skyline everywhere. Unsurprisingly, given these credentials, it’s one of the most happening bars in KL, so although you can just turn up, it’s best to book ahead (the tables seat 10). For events, the maximum capacity is 350 and hire starts at around £9,500.
This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events magazine summer 2010