Built in 1884 as a French chateau on the Thames, Whitehall Court now houses the Royal Horseguards Hotel and its One Whitehall Place conference and events centre. Highlights include the Gladstone Library – which is much as the old prime minister left it – and its interconnecting Reading & Writing Room, with fine Thames views. Originally a billiards room, the Whitehall Suite offers high ceilings, lots of natural light and more rivery vistas.
The Royal Horseguards Hotel
Forty-five minutes west of central London, on an island between the Thames and Jubilee rivers, is Grade I-listed Tudor manor house Dorney Court. Available to hire for dinners and meetings, the 500-capacity Coach House comes with a private courtyard in which large marquees can be erected, taking the total up to 1,000 guests. The numbers can be much greater if you have a marquee set up elsewhere in the grounds. The Great Hall has been hosting banquets since the 15th century, while the well-tended gardens are set up for teambuilding activities and moments of respite from a day’s conferencing. Dorney Court works with caterer Absolute Taste for events.Venue review of Weddings at Dorney Court
Venue review of Christmas at Dorney Court
With a programme featuring international singers, comedians and theatre companies, Belfast Waterfront is firmly established as one of Northern Ireland’s leading venues for entertainment. The main
auditorium plays host not only to award-winning performers but also large-scale conferences – it holds over 2,000 people for both business and arts events. Projection facilities, full audiovisual
co-ordination, infra-red receivers for those with hearing difficulties and wheelchair access are all available. Alongside the main auditorium are 14 comfortable meeting rooms, exhibition facilities
and a studio seating up to 380. The in-house catering team can organise cocktail and canapé receptions, banquets and breakfast meetings, though there’s also an on-site restaurant with views of
Belfast and the River Lagan for more casual bites. A hotel next to the Waterfront provides accommodation with ample parking facilities.
Set in Victorian railway arches near London Bridge station, wine-tasting destination Vinopolis is also a flexible event venue. Holding as many as 1,250 guests, it offers eight striking spaces, ranging from the imposing brick-clad Great Halls to the clean-cut white space that is The Gallery. This flexible venue lends itself just as readily to weddings and awards ceremonies as it does to conferences, exhibitions and product launches. There are also five restaurants and bars on site for corporate entertaining. Group tastings are, of course, a speciality here – don’t forget to pay a visit to the interactive Wine Tasting Experience.Information on Christmas Parties at Vinopolis
Information on Weddings at Vinopolis
Taberna Etrusca channels classic trattoria style, with textured white walls, tiled floors and a timeless feel. A courtyard catches the sun in summer – it’s a pretty setting for barbecues and drinks receptions. Right next to St Mary-le-Bow church, the restaurant’s popular for wedding receptions. Authentic Italian food in charming surroundings makes it a popular choice for private and corporate parties. The entire venue can be hired for evenings and at weekends.Information on Etrusca Restaurants & Events
The NPG offers a very special kind of face time. From the vibrant ground-floor Lerner Galleries to the intimate Tudor Galleries two levels above, its hireable public spaces showcase the finest portrait paintings of their respective eras. Elsewhere, hi-spec AV and superior tiered seating make the Ondaatje Wing Theatre a sophisticated backdrop for presentations and launches. The Portrait Restaurant frames exceptional views out past Nelson’s Column to Whitehall.
National Portrait Gallery
The Barbican’s best-kept secret is without question its rooftop Conservatory, a delightfully incongruous space that houses exotic fish and over 2,000 species of tropical plants under its glass roof. Its treetops are overlooked by the large Conservatory Terrace, while the Garden Room on level three (a more contemporary space with views across the City of London) works well for drinks receptions, dinners and small awards ceremonies.
Information on Barbican London Power Venue
The Conservatory & Garden Room
Moored near Temple tube, HQS Wellington offers a memorable backdrop for events. Her prime Thames location gives visitors excellent views of the South Bank, London Eye and river traffic. Its spaces include the wood-panelled Court Room, accessed via an ornate teak staircase; the Model Room, with its collection of antique miniature ships; and the exterior Quarter Deck, which has 180° views. Catering comes courtesy of The Cook & The Butler.Summer parties on HQS Wellington
Staking its claim as the only Tudor castle in England that’s open as a hotel, Thornbury Castle sits pretty in its picturesque South Gloucestershire setting. The 27-room hotel has proudly embraced
its heritage, offering function rooms with plenty of old English character. The high-ceilinged Tudor Hall – a stone-walled room, complete with suits of armour, tapestries and a huge fireplace –
will accommodate 75 delegates theatre style, and 66 for an atmospheric banquet. The second of two event spaces on offer is the first-floor Baron’s Sitting Room, which overlooks the hotel’s vineyard
and gardens, and works particularly well for board meetings of up to 22 delegates. There’s plenty of natural daylight in both spaces and free Wi-Fi throughout. Thornbury’s grounds have plenty of
space for activities like archery, croquet and falconry. On a rainy day, groups can get stuck into a murder mystery activity around the castle.
The five-star Royal Garden Hotel towers above Kensington Gardens, with spectacular views from its 10th-floor restaurant and many of the bedrooms. Event spaces range from meeting rooms equipped with up-to-date AV to large banqueting suites. The Balmoral and Highgrove rooms are popular for board-level meetings, while the Palace Suite suits grand affairs. It has its own entrance and bar with the potential to be split in two for multi-stage events.
Venue review for Min Jiang at Royal Garden Hotel
'Venues with a View' feature on lofty spaces in London
Venue focus: Royal Garden Hotel
Royal Garden Hotel
As the country outpost of the Soho House members’ clubs, Babington House is the
quintessential rural retreat for fashionable townies. Set in 18 acres of Somerset parkland, the club, hotel and spa delivers laidback chic throughout 33 individually designed bedrooms and seven
stylish event spaces. In the main house, the Orangery is the largest option for private dining, seating up to 90, while the Log Room can seat 36 at a long table. These two rooms interconnect and
can be opened up to accommodate 120 guests. Smaller spaces include the peaceful Library, Pool Room and Study, while a cinema accommodates 45 for screenings. Leisure facilities are also impressive,
with the Cowshed spa offering an indoor pool, gym, sauna and steam room alongside treatment rooms. Outside, there’s an open-air pool, tennis courts and croquet. Exclusive hire is a popular option
Christmas at Babington House
Weddings at Babington House
Weddings at Soho House Group venues
Here we have an award-winning major events venue in the capital of Scotland. In 2013, the venue was expanded, creating the Atrium and the Lennox Suite. The latter features an impressive moving floor that can transform the 1,600sq m event space from a flat-floor hall to a raked auditorium, an arena or a tiered cabaret setup. A string of attractive suites are where to look if you have seminars or exec-level meetings on the mind. The CSR conscious should pay attention to the venue’s Plan-it Green programme, which among its various strategies promises energy efficient lighting, heating and cooling options.
Edinburgh International Conference Centre
It’s played host to politicians, royalty and the glitterati since opening in 1906, but Crathorne Hall Hotel now prides itself on an unstarchy approach to hospitality. Set in 15 acres of gardens on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors, it has 37 bedrooms and a fine-dining restaurant. Round the back, the lawn and adjacent terrace are prime breakout spots. There are also a handful of attractive indoor spaces for entertaining and business. Meeting rooms for up to 120 delegates share the venue’s stately style and are supported by some competitive day delegate rates. The elegant Edwardian Room is our favourite spot for a private dinner.
Crathorne Hall Hotel
L’Etoile has offered its own brand of bistro chic to Charlotte Street for more than a century. Unusually for a Fitzrovia property, it offers four bright, well-appointed private spaces for events. Decorated in a classic French style, they best suit private dinners, but they’re also popular for cocktail and canapé receptions, parties, small product launches and meetings. Exclusive use is an option and there’s a choice of three private-dining set menus.Information on Corus and Laura Ashley Hotels
Donnington Valley is an impressive hotel, conveniently located two miles from the M4 at Newbury. It has 111 individually designed bedrooms and 10 meeting rooms, holding between 10 and 160
delegates. The largest of these, The Cromwell, is the most recently refurbished and is equipped with a private bar. The hotel is suited to both large and small meetings, including training courses,
and overlooks the greens of its own challenging golf course. Its award-winning WinePress Restaurant serves up locally sourced dishes in an informal atmosphere and sits alongside a 50-capacity
private dining room. The venue also hosts teambuilding activities, and can organise quad biking and laser clay pigeon shooting off site. To ensure it really makes its mark as a group destination,
the hotel offers a large health club and award-winning spa complex which has an 18m pool, a gym, a sauna and several treatment suites.
Donnington Valley Hotel & Golf Course