Sticking the company card behind the bar in the local boozer just doesn’t cut it for the office Christmas party anymore – unless, perhaps, your ‘local boozer’ happens to be one of these cool London bars. And while a nice, festive meal out at one of London’s trendy restaurants is a lovely idea, there’s a good chance it’ll blur into all the other Christmas events that have taken place in previous years (except that one involving Steve from accounts that no one’s allowed to talk about).
We get that Christmas events, gatherings and parties are all subject to budgets, so we’re not suggesting you fly your team out to Dubai or anything, but we have gathered some suggestions of immersive experiences you can book for the Christmas do this year as an alternative to a standard Christmas meal or drinks reception.
Of course, the kind of immersive experience London is famous for isn’t for everyone, so we’ve tried to include a variety of different activities depending on group size, participation level and duration. Some include food and drink while others are pure experience, so whatever you have in mind, you’re sure to find one that sounds suitable. And if not? Ditch your colleagues and go with your mates instead!
Funicular Productions, Pedley Street Station, Shoreditch
What: Dining in a vintage train carriage with an audience-participating show being played out during the meal.
Where: Pedley Street Station, Arch 63, Pedley Street, E1 5BW
Details: London’s newest ‘train station’ is a first-class opportunity to bring the office together for some immersive dining and a participatory theatre show this Christmas. Pedley Street Station sits inside a real railway arch, from where guests board a vintage train carriage in which they are dined and entertained at tables of six to eight. Production values are high, with the carriage brought over from Europe specially, and the recently refurbed venue also housing a platform bar. For all its previous productions, the team has coupled up with star chefs (usually picked from the MasterChef and MasterChef: The Professionals bunch) such as Laurence Henry, Billy & Jack and Louisa Ellis.
Tropicana Beach Club, Covent Garden
What: A tropical island nightclub with interactive staff.
Where: Tropicana Beach Club, New London Theatre, Parker Street, WC2B 5PW
Details: Here, you’ll find that food station-manners, acrobats and dancers aren’t just performers – they interact and engage with the audience too (and even serve drinks). Tropicana Beach Club’s ‘rum-soaked tropical oasis’ theme and corresponding décor will certainly bring plenty of sunshine this Christmas, much helped by the 30ft palm trees and a beach party-style atmosphere. Exclusive use is the obvious choice, but smaller groups can book one of 12 VIP beach cabanas. Parties can then head to the ‘lagoon pool’ dancefloor or take part in beach games like surfboard limbo. Semi-private hire is also welcome in one of two areas, each with its own bar.
Capacity: 180 seated, 600 standing
Medieval Banquet, Ivory Vaults
What: A medieval banquet with immersive entertainment and gorgeous food.
Where: The Ivory Vaults, Ivory House, St Katharine Docks, E1W 1BP
Details: Open for both exclusive and shared Christmas parties (the venue has nine dining rooms to choose from), the Medieval Banquet is hugely popular, especially in this GOT-fanatical day and age. See knights and jesters fight in front of you, have your food and drink delivered with song and dance and eat while acrobats and dragons fluster about. Guests are encouraged to join in on the fun with dancing, banging the table in encouragement and cheersing with your goblets of ale. The historic venue is aptly nestled between the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, too.
What: Dinner on the top-floor of a luxury double-decker bus.
Where: Bustronome, Coach bay 40B, Victoria Embankment, WC2N 6PB
Details: We can guarantee Instagram will be booming with this one. Fitted out like a fine-dining restaurant, this bus comes complete with a glass roof so you can see all the sights as it whizzes you around London. When it comes to decorations, you can go for traditional festive ones or you can introduce your own theme. Even the route can be bespoke for your company so that you can stop or drive past certain areas, landmarks or buildings that might have a sentimental meaning to you. Pick-ups and drop-offs can be tailored to your needs, too. Now that’s the ticket, eh?
Moonshine Saloon, Chelsea
What: A Western-themed immersive cocktail experience involving cowboys.
Where: Moonshine Saloon, 535 King's Road, SW10 0SZ
Details: Join black-clad Clyde Cassidy (let’s say he gives a young Clint Eastwood a run for his money) in running his prohibited ‘moonshine’ business in this Western-themed speakeasy. The underground saloon is decked out with incredible detail and staff’s southern accents are so on point, it will transport you straight to the set of Westworld (in fact, the saloon’s cheery piano soundtrack is strikingly similar to that of the HBO hit TV show). Don your cowboy hat, flannel shirt and bandit’s scarf and get ready to sip on gorgeous cocktails while a dramatic Western shoot-out goes on before your eyes.
Jeff Wayne's The War Of The Worlds: The Immersive Experience
What: A high-tech Martian invasion-themed immersive experience.
Where: The War Of The Worlds, 56 Leadenhall Street, EC3A 2BJ
Details: Based on Jeff Wayne’s musical version of H. G. Wells' pioneering sci-fi novel from 1897, The War Of The Worlds, this highly interactive 110-minute experience merges immersive theatre, virtual reality, augmented reality, holograms and other cutting-edge technology. Relive the ‘Martian invasion of 1898’ through VR headsets and multisensory storytelling techniques that will have you smell the grass you’re seeing in your goggles, sense the chill of the Martian invaders and actually physically feel the ground shaking as the spaceships lands in front of you. Both live and virtual actors will guide you through the landscape as you crawl, walk and slide your way through the experience.
Capacity: Groups of 12
Alcotraz Prison Cocktail Bar
What: An immersive theatrical cocktail experience in a fake prison.
Where: Alcotraz, Covent Garden & Shoreditch
Details: Nothing says ‘thanks for all the hard work this year’ than sentencing your employees to a stint in prison – a fake prison that involves crafting elicit cocktails, that is. Inspired by popular prison films and TV, Alcotraz is an immersive cocktail experience that sees the ‘inmates’ clad in orange jumpsuits and installed in real metallic cells. Once incarcerated, they are instructed by notorious bootleggers from inside the joint to smuggle in liquor to make a range of tailored cocktails based on your tastes. Inmates are encouraged to be as creative as possible in their attempts to smuggle-in alcohol, with just one warning: don’t let The Warden catch you.
Capacity: 50 per venue
What: An immersive themed party based on F Scott Fitzgerald's seminal work, The Great Gatsby.
Where: Gatsby's Mansion, Immersive LDN, 56 Davies Street, W1K 5HR
Details: Anyone who’s read or seen The Great Gatsby is almost certain to have wished they could attend one of Jay Gatsby’s decadent soirees in real life. Cue Immersive Gatsby, where lavish décor, flowing Champagne and beautiful costumes make for one helluva Christmas party. You are cordially invited to don your dancing shoes, dress to the nines and immerse yourself in the drama unfolding around you. Explore the various rooms and spaces, learn the Charleston or maybe chat to Mr Gatsby himself. Your level of interaction is completely up to you, but no matter how much or little you decide to get involved, you’re guaranteed a rip-roaring time.
What: An immersive five-course, multi-room dining adventure.
Where: Gingerline, a hidden location near Hoxton Station
Details: Shrouded in mystery, this interactive dining experience from immersive experts Gingerline is an excellent shout for curious folk, particularly since its motto is 'only the brave will dine'. It requires a bit of a leap of faith as everything from the location to details of the actual experience are kept secret until the day, but it assures us that this is all part of the fun. What we do know is that guests will be hurled headlong into the multi-verse to embark on a two-hour, five-course, multi-dimensional dining adventure involving unusual flavour combinations. Sounds like just our kind of thing!
Capacity: 16 per group
Trapped in a Room with a Zombie
What: This one’s pretty self-explanatory.
Where: Trapped in a Room, Corner of Honour Lea Avenue & Sunrise Close, E20 1DU
Details: If you like a healthy dose of fear at your Christmas events, this immersive escape room will be right up your street. Hidden in the room is a key that will unlock the door to your survival – survival, that is, from the hungry zombie chained up in the room with you. You’ll need to work together on the clues and riddles quickly if you want to get out, as the zombie’s chain will be released one foot every five minutes and within an hour, the zombie will be able to reach and eat* you. Thrilling and fun, it’s perfect for small groups looking to do something a little different (okay, a lot different) this Christmas.
* Cannibalism has been outlawed since 1804, so the zombie is not legally permitted to eat you.
Looking for more festive fun? Get in the Christmas spirit with a trip to London’s Christmas markets