The Brewery – Aurora: and then there was light at Grade II-listed venue
From: £105 Guests: up to 1,500
Taking charge of office festivities for the first time or just want some sparkly new ideas?
Unlimited drinks package and shared parties at 30 Euston Square
From 17 December organisers will be able to host private screenings of Star Wars: Episdode VII - The Force Awakens at the east London arts centre. Three separate screening rooms are available, seating 181, 132 and 59 film fans.
Sit-down dinner or stand-up reception? Answering this big question in party organisation comes down to setting clear objectives
Twickenham Experience - joiner parties on selected dates throughout the festive season
London: Twickenham Stadium
From: TBC Groups: TBC
A selection of dates are now available for groups to join in with festivities aboard the Solent-based manmade island. Starting from £150pp, guests will be treated to dinner, drinks and a disco. The views aren’t bad either.
Mondrian London - Christmas parties on the bank of the river Thames
From: TBC Guests: up to 275
Ministry of Sound - Christmas barbecue served in heated courtyard
London: South Bank
From: £30.50pp Guests: up to 400
QEII Centre - Christmas at The Oscars
From: £43pp Guests: 1,200
Science Museum - large scale parties in one of eight spaces
From: £69pp Guests: up to 1,000
Royal Garden Hotel - Big and Bold Christmas parties
From: £70pp Guests: up to 850
Barrio - Christmas Carnivale-themed parties at one of four Barrio venues
Book a Christmas party at the St Katharine Docks venue by 14 October to claim your prize. The Medieval Banquet shared lunch and evening events begin in late October and include five-course meals and plenty of entertainment.
Two days, two destinations: the Square Meal team find out just how much Christmas fun you can have in the West End and on a jaunt out of town
Book your Christmas party before 16 October at the venue, and you’ll get 10% off, plus a complimentary prosecco reception. Contact the venue team to claim the offer.
Christmas parties at The Magazine restaurant, Hyde Park
As Smart Christmas Parties gets ready for a busy season ahead, we look back at its Colorado Christmas shared nights at Battersea Evolution
Two nights, two destinations: the Square Meal team find out just how much Christmas fun you can have in the City of London and the West End
Two nights, two destinations: the Square Meal team find out just how much Christmas fun you can have in the City of London and the West End
Words: Tobias Gourlay & Millie Milliken Photos: Laurie Fletcher
The first half of our party double-header takes us to the Square Mile. Is this where the money's at?
Our canter around the City begins at Paternoster Chop House (020 7716 7887). We've chosen to dine in the Grade I-listed Temple Bar, a stroll across the square from the main restaurant. It’ll do private dining for a dozen or stand-up receptions for 20, but first the history lesson: built by Christopher Wren as a gateway to the city near Fleet Street, it was bumped to rural Hertfordshire for a century and more before taking its place on the square, where it now delivers all-time views of St Paul’s. Pitch up for something festive and you can open with bubbles from Chapel Down. To start, the cured meats are all British too, so is the potted shrimp. Roast beef and Yorkshire for mains? Have a guess. The Welsh cakes are pushing the boundary a bit, but before anyone can say ‘UKIP’, we’re off to see how the French do it.
Around the corner on Foster Lane, L’atelier des Chefs (020 7796 0110) is putting on its first ever sausage-making masterclass. It’s a simple idea: they bring the expertise, guests deliver the innuendos. Our spiced Christmas bangers – thyme is the standout flavour – go through the mincer twice before being served (carelessly, Damien) on top of big cowpats of aligot – a creamy, cheesy, Frenchy mashed potato – with port-soaked onions. The taste is supérieur.
Stomachs now double lined, it’s time to make the short walk to the Gherkin. After an even briefer lift ride, we’re 180m up in the air. Looking out through those unmistakable latticed windows – Essex on one side, Middlesex the other – we arrive at Searcys bar and restaurant (020 7071 5009), which occupies the top two floors. Our increasingly long list of great places for drinks in tall buildings may well have a new front runner: a bottle or two of Besserat de Bellefon NV marries awfully well with that view.
Back down to earth with a soft landing at Core (020 7968 2440). Miracle on 34th Street, Gremlins, Home Alone: outside of Lapland, nowhere screams Christmas like New York. Late Night London’s place on Queen Street promises a Big Apple ambience and, with neon signs and bare brickwork, you couldn’t be anywhere but Manhattan (maybe Brooklyn at a push). Drinks vouchers are thrown around like confetti and, with a total capacity of 400, there’s space on the dance floor for everyone.
And so to our final destination, the 24-hour Polo Bar (020 7283 4889) opposite Liverpool Street station. Coffee, whisky or both: the Polo Bar caters to all post-midnight moods. In our case, that means beer pong in Phil’s Office (a private space on the top floor with space for around 20 party people) with
ready supplies of motown and Camden Brewery’s finest. Oh, and the food: pulled pork, burgers, and English breakfasts for those running a little ahead of schedule. We only gave the venue a couple of hours’ notice, but the Christmas decorations are ready and waiting. This is finishing the night merrily on a high.
Festive feeling **** Calories consumed **** Team bonding **** Something different ***** Fun factor ***
Round two sees us take on the tourists in the West End
Things kick off with a flutter at The Casino at the Empire (020 3603 9483) for its Learn to Play package. Groups of four to 12 can spend an hour in the Leicester Square venue learning from the pros. First up: roulette. ‘If you want to win, bet on the winning number’. Thanks, Alberto (our croupier), noted. We place our bets. A ballsy move from Damien nearly pays off, but Millie ends up cleaning the house out. Blackjack time. This requires actual brainpower and after some careless chip throwing, we take things seriously. By the end, we’ve just about grasped it, with Heather ‘007’ Steele clinching the win.
Morale high, we make the swift journey to Mount Street Deli (020 7307 5786) to try The Chef’s Table. Deli by day, it hosts private dinners for up to 12 at night. We’re greeted in the oak-panelled dining room with Caprice Holdings’ house champagne, Gyéjacquot Brut. You can choose a menu from any of the group’s restaurants. Ours is a selection of dishes from Scott’s, just across the road. Paired with top-notch plonk, each course is a reminder of the Mayfair stalwart’s reputation. Throw in Etta James on the jukebox and the best-looking waiter in London (seriously), and we're left smiling.
Stomachs stuffed, we slip hazily into the Green Bar at Hotel Café Royal (020 7406 3333). This art-deco den serves cocktails and small dishes, but it’s the drizzling absinthe fountains that catch our eye. The venue has a history with the green fairy and the absintheurs among us are entranced by the bar demonstration. Cake stands of canapés provide damage control, while Antonio whips up some Luxardo cocktail shots for the road. ‘Come tomorrow and I’ll make you the best bloody mary you’ve ever had.’
Fired up on fairy juice, we test-drive new events offering The Studio, from Oxford Circus’ London Cocktail Club (020 7836 9533). The secret space is decorated with hanging microphone lights and vinyl decor. Guests can be their own DJs, complete with decks and there’s the option for karaoke. While Russ cranks up Got To Be Real, we shake our favourite cocktails using our stash of Ketel One vodka with barman Patrick. We count our measures (one second for every 5ml) and take it in turns in the booth. The sound of Chingy gives us our cue to leave – a good idea, since we’ve sunk a whole bottle.
Our final stop? All-hours restaurant VQ (020 7636 5888). We’re booked in for 1am – groups of at least six can reserve – and order a round of mojitos to keep the party going. It’s a bit too early for a full English, but we make light work of the croque madames. From buttermilk pancakes to fish and chips, you can pretty much sate any drunken appetite in this place. Maybe save the kedgeree for another time – whoever you go home to/with will thank you.
Festive feeling *** Calories consumed **** Team bonding ** Something different **** Fun factor *****
This year, the arts venue will be holding jungle-themed dos in its Conservatory. Party Nights packages start at £89pp +VAT and include a three-hour unlimited bar and food stations, as well as a DJ. For £105pp +VAT, you’ll be upgraded to a three-course seated dinner.
Jack Whitehall to perform at The Ballroom South Bank
Book your Christmas party at the Victory Services Club before 30 September and you’ll get unlimited prosecco at your welcome reception. This year, the venue is hosting masquerade-themed parties
with prices starting at £60pp.
This year, the Ivory Vaults will be hosting a plethora of Christmas party themes from Medieval banquets to Thrones and Vikings nights.
Smart Live has joined forces with Troxy to hold Speakeasy-themed Christmas parties this year. From late November until the end of December, the hospitality provider will host exclusive and shared
parties for up to 1,800 guests in the art deco venue. Prices start at £85pp and include a three-course meal, DJ, speakeasy entertainment, and a few surprises along the way.
Period dramas at the Pavilion at the Tower of London
The Devonshire Square venue is now serving up festive feasts and spice-infused cocktails in its private dining room. Up to 16 guests can enjoy three-course Christmas party menus, starting at £30pp.
We love the sound of the roast goose breast with Goan vindaloo spices and slow-roasted winter vegetables – way better than traditional turkey. Alternatively, groups of up to 100 can take things
alfresco with a private party in a ‘Maharaja Tent’ on the heated terrace.
The London Eye Barracuda has late availability for an exclusive-hire Christmas party on Thursday 12 December. Prices start at £109pp +VAT for between 50 and 230 guests. Call 0871 222 4002 and quote
‘BOAT1’ to receive a 10% discount. The Thames vessel has also added five shared party nights. Parties taking place on Wednesday 18 December and Saturday 21 December start at £85pp +VAT and those on
Saturday 30 November, Friday 6 December and Saturday 14 December cost from £130pp +VAT for a dinner dance. Call 0871 222 4002 and quote ‘BOAT2’ to receive 10% off.
Quote ‘Square Meal’ when you book your Christmas party with PenniBlack Catering and you’ll receive 10% off the price.
DJ lessons, cocktail masterclasses and a pop-up cinema at Fabirc's 'UnChristmas' parties
As well as its extended license now lasting until 4am, the Kings Road venue is offering 15% off food bookings until Monday 11 November.
The EDF Energy London Eye is offering Square Meal readers a 10% discount on private capsule hire this Christmas. Guests will enjoy festive canapés and chilled Pommery Wintertime Champagne for up to
two rotations (lasting one hour) while taking in the 360-degree views across the capital – great for a pre-dinner reception. The offer is valid for all bookings made before 18 November 2013 for
visits between 23 November 2013 and 6 January 2014. To book, email the team and quote ‘SM Xmas’.
Smart Group announces three festive themes across the UK.
Arsenal FC at Emirates Stadium - cooking by Raymond Blanc & a stadium tour
Historic Royal Palaces - five iconic venues across the capital
Wembley Stadium - super-sized venue with a superhero theme
The office Christmas party needn’t be a booze-fuelled night out. Team Square Meal puts two very different dos to the test. But which will you pick: a virtuous afternoon affair or something a little
With organiser Awesome Events gearing up for another busy season at Coram’s Fields, we look back at one of last year’s Cirque de Noel-themed shared nights in the Big Top.
Superstar holograms unveiled at 8 Northumberland Avenue
Christmas on and overlooking the River Thames
The venue group has announced four Christmas themes for 2013. Its Covent Garden club, Sway, will be hosting Masquerade and Groovy Wonderland parties. Both Grace (in Soho) and Balls Brother’s
Minster Exchange (EC3) will be converted into Winter Wonderlands, while City bar Kanaloa will put its tiki-inspired interiors to good use with a Hawaiian theme. Packages start at £18.99pp for lunch
and £49.99pp for dinner
Ever fancied having the likes of Will.i.am at your Christmas party? Well, the beautiful Grade II-listed 8 Northumberland Avenue has recently partnered with the leaders in 3D holographic technology,
Musion, to install holograms of international artists who have embraced this technology, such as Will.i.am and DJ Judge Jules. One of the venue’s packages this year is ‘Rock the Ballroom’, which
will feature ‘live’ performances, as well as a drinks reception and choice of a three-course dinner, bowl food or canapé reception. Prices start at just £70pp. The 1,000-capacity venue is also
offering bookers the chance to win a pair of Jimmy Choos. To enter, email the venue with who you’d most want to have on stage at your Christmas party by 4pm on Friday 20 September.
Amid practising pianists and stretching burlesque dancers, Denis McCourt of Awesome Events tells V&E about his role as ring master of the Bloomsbury Big Top.
A great option for smaller teams, shared parties allow groups (minimum of 10 guests) to experience the party atmosphere of a big festive get-together without the associated production costs. This
year, Awesome Events’ shared parties include a Kasbah Christmas party at The Fountain Rooms (from £70pp), while The Truman Galleries will become Professor Truman’s Magical Laboratory (£80pp) and
Porchester Hall will host Christmas Rocks (£70pp). There will also be a dazzling display of acrobatic entertainment as Bloomsbury Big Top is taken over by Cirque de Paris (from £75pp). Exclusive
nights are also available.
The 2014 edition of Square Meal Christmas Parties magazine was recently distributed with our autumn mag. Click through to read the digital version.
If you still haven’t booked your Christmas party and need some very last-minute inspiration, book a table at Quaglino’s. The Piccadilly restaurant has space for groups of up to 14 in the main
dining room, where there will be live music flowing in from the upstairs bar and winter cocktails on ice. Larger parties may prefer one of the private dining rooms, the larger of which holds up to
44 guests. If you make it snappy and book before 8 December, they will throw in a complimentary Champagne reception.
Book a party at No. 4 Hamilton Place this Christmas and be rewarded with a bottle of fizz on each table. Event agency The Full Effect is hosting nights in the Mayfair townhouse, which will be
decked out with contemporary festive decorations. Dish will provide the catering, with dinner packages priced from £100 per person (there are bowl food options from £80pp) and a DJ will crank out
classic Christmas floor-fillers for afters.
Gifts don’t get much more Christmassy than a hamper from Fortnum & Mason. The historic department store is teeming with seasonal offerings at this time of year, so you’ll find ideas to suit
just about any budget. Drop them a line or send an email (quoting ‘Square Meal')and you could be in with a chance of winning a Classic Christmas
hamper (worth £150) for yourself.
We have just launched our brand new Christmas Parties magazine. If you missed it, check out the online
edition. There are tips on this year’s top themes, hot catering news, as well as special offers and packages from a range of different venues.
File the mojito in the cocktail archives and greet your guests with one of these Christmas concoctions from the madcap mixologists at The London Cocktail Club
Top chefs share their Christmas dinner secrets so you can feast like a professional
It’s that time of year again: the nights are drawing in, the coats are coming out and Harrods has released its Christmas hamper selection. As ever, the world’s most famous department store is
brimming with seasonal produce so there’s plenty to choose from and those who place an order of £100 or more before 16 November will receive free UK mainland delivery. Our pick of the hampers is
the largely savoury Montpelier (£275), but we also have our eye on the Christmas Box (£45) and Wine Buyer’s Selection (£350).
Lemon Drop Events are taking up residence on Horse Guards Parade from 26 November to 20 December, with a three-pronged offering. It includes an ultra-modern snow dome on the parade ground, the St
James’ Suite, an elegant clear-sided marquee or dinner in the Household Cavalry Museum.
The folk behind Fitzrovia’s speakeasy Bourne & Hollingsworth are hosting 1920s- themed nights at Village Underground and Shoreditch Studios. Guests can expect cocktails out of tea cups, DJs
with gramophones, live bands and gambling at the prohibition nights. While the company's Belle Epoque parties will see aerial acts take centre stage at a masked ball.
For over 20 years Tateossian London has been producing contemporary jewellery, watches and accessories. Now, founder Robert Tateossian – crowned ‘The King of Cufflinks’ – is bringing his
eye-catching silver and 18-carat gold products to the corporate gift market. Items including hand-crafted watches, luxurious pens and cufflinks have been carefully selected with corporate customers
Caravaggio - Christmas parties in art-deco Italian restaurant
From: TBC Guests up to 250
Taberna Etrusca - Christmas parties in an Italian trattoria London: City From: TBC Guests: up to 200
EX Events has added another venue to its Christmas portfolio. Parties in its new space beneath One Whitehall Place will be run in partnership with the Royal Horseguards Hotel next door and caterer Party Ingredients.
Book the office do before 30 September at any of the Christmas party specialists’ venues, and you’ll get a free bottle of Champagne. The offer is valid for the first 50 bookings made. Quote ‘SQUAREMEALFIZZ’ to claim the offer.