This week's venues and events news that should be on your radar

This week's venues and events news that should be on your radar

Updated on 14 January 2019 • Written By Tonje Odegard

This week's venues and events news that should be on your radar
Cheese, hospitality and chef’s tables make up this week’s essential venues and events news

Check out the new chef’s table at The Ampersand Hotel’s Apero


served with a side of awesome

A chef’s table is a fabulous way to treat staff or favourite clients – it’s less formal than a normal sit-down dinner, and more exclusive because your guests get the chance to talk and interact with the chefs. Still, it can be a fine-dining affair with excellent food. 

This is exactly what you can expect from the newly arrived chef’s table at Apero, the modern European restaurant located beneath the Victorian cellar arches of the Ampersand Hotel in South Ken. For a minimum of six people and up to ten, the experience is reasonably priced at £50pp. This includes a selection of dishes including dessert, with a glass of prosecco on arrival and half a bottle of wine per person with the meal. 

The semi-private space creates the perfect balance of intimacy and bustle. Highlights from the menu include creamy burrata with honey and truffle and brown crabmeat and tarragon croquettes – the thought of pears with rich gorgonzola for dessert also makes our mouths water. The menus changes daily, though, and are all made up of seasonal ingredients. 

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The SquareMeal restaurant critics have given Apero a bronze award, saying that the atmosphere is calm and cosy. This is much due to the dangling Edison light bulbs, brick-washed walls and lots of little nooks. 

They also enjoyed dishes such as the oxtail gougères, soft-shell crab fried in semolina with kale and aioli, and the braised pig’s cheek with beetroot risotto and Dorset snails.  

Apero also functions as a cocktail lounge, with a list of well-crafted drinks referencing the nearby V&A: try Frescobaldi, Tintoretti or To a Summer’s Day (a Beluga vodka, lemon and peach spritz inspired by Bridget Riley’s painting of the same name).


Keith Prowse maintains role of official Investec Derby Festival hospitality supplier at Epsom Downs


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If you’ve started thinking about what events to treat your clients to this summer, you’ll be pleased to hear that The Jockey Club has extended its agreement with Keith Prowse as the official hospitality supplier at the Investec Derby Festival.

The partnership has been extended for another five years, which means the festival, held annually at Epsom Downs Racecourse, will be delivered with the best hospitality offering. Viewed by many as the big boy of hospitality, Keith Prowse is also the official hospitality provider for The Championships, Wimbledon (and the Fever-Tree Championships), the cricket at Kia Oval and Twickenham Stadium

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Thinking that heading to the races at Epsom won’t hit home with the young crowd in the office or with the millennial clients? Keith Prowse’s hugely popular concept, The Winning Post (launched only a few years ago), has been renowned for engaging a new, younger audience. Located on the inside of the racetrack metres from the finish line, it hosts the official hospitality after-party, which is always a hoot. 

Convinced? Better be quick, then, as it usually sells out well in advance. 


A late Christmas present from Jack Solomons for those still in need of a Christmas party


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If you still haven’t had your Christmas party, and you haven’t even booked a venue, we have officially found your saviour! On top of that, we have also found a cracking incentive for booking. 

Jack Solomons will be giving businesses a £1,000 bar tab to spend on your team between 1 February and 1 December 2019 if you have your January Christmas party there. You will need to pre-book and spend more than £4,000 on the night, and it’s only valid for a minimum of 50 people. 

You’d better be quick and book now, though, as the offer is only available on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays until the end of January.

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The club is located in the cavernous basement of Chelsea steakhouse Sophie’s. The basement was once a gym owned by the eponymous Jack, the celebrated Cockney boxing promoter who first matched up Henry Cooper with Muhammad Ali. It has now been recast as a louche, dimly-lit jazz-era lounge bar with low-level seating. 

The Peaky Blinders twilight world is soundtracked by live jive and late-night DJ sets. You can lounge in petrol-blue velvet booths or separate faux-seedy blood-red saloons while you sip on the signature whiskey serves. 

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They include Dev’s Delight (Cointreau, crème de cacao, grapefruit and liquorice bitters) and Coffee & Cigarettes (Galliano liqueur, sweet vermouth and chocolate bitters). Drinks are seriously good (SquareMeal’s bar critic gave the place a Silver Award).

You could go for banging steaks at  Sophie’s upstairs first, or you can opt for canapés in the basement. They sound rather delicious, we think: especially the shaved beef bresaola crostini, mini burger sliders and salmon ceviche.     


Take your group to The Cheese Room (with a private fondue waiter) at Le Pont de la Tour 


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No, that’s not your eyes playing tricks on you – you really do get your own fondue waiter if you head to this riverside gem. Le Pont de la Tour has been serving up its classic French cuisine and front-row Thames views for more than 20 years. 

The interiors are inspired by a ship’s dining room, but for the fondue fête, you’re heading to the picturesque terrace, where, in a little hut, groups of up to four can cuddle up. There, a three-course cheese extravaganza awaits, kicked off with a glass of Moët & Chandon.

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What are the cheeses, you ask? All the good ones, thankfully. We’re talking one of France’s oldest to start off, the Fourme dd’Ambert, accompanied by a chicory velouté and red port shallots. To follow, the fondue will be complemented with emmental and gruyere cheese mixed with white wine. In line with the gooey profile of the meal, a warm chocolate fondant will be served for pudding. 

The entire meal is served with a side of awesome views – Tower Bridge can be taken in in its entirety. The offer is available until the 25 January and costs £50pp.

Calling all January Christmas parties: there’s a double bar tab at Pergola 


Pergola on the roof Olympia

If you’re doing Dry January, look away. This is the very antithesis to laying off the booze for the first month of the year, but ideal if you’ve waited until now to have the office Christmas party. 

Pergola Olympia and Pergola Paddington are both kick-starting 2019 with offering a double bar tab when pre-ordering. What does it mean? It means getting twice as much as you pay for – £100-worth of tipple for only £50 (no, we’re not joking).

The minimum spend is £30, but you can go big too, as the max is £500. And with Aperol spritz, passion fruit martinis and mojitos on tap, that cash will fly away in no time. Line your stomachs with lobster rolls from Claw, burgers from Patty & Bun or thin pizzas from Shoreditch pizza slingers Passo. 

Pergola Paddington Central winter 2017

These can all be found at the Olympia site, which is our favourite. Superb for a casual party, this new mega sky-lounge occupies the top floor of the Olympia Exhibition Centre’s car park (now covered and heated). 

Featuring panoramic views (although, admittedly, north-west London’s ’burbs aren’t the most spectacular of prospects), it’s a nice spot for a dramatic January sunset. Inside, faux foliage, rustic furniture, oversized party booths and a ginormous bar hold the attention.



Breathe new life into your corporate event with the new virtual reality experience at the Saatchi Gallery 


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Planning a January event and in need of a cool back-drop? Stop right there, as we’ve got just the thing – but be quick, as it’s only available for corporate hire until 20 January. 

The Saatchi Gallery in Kensington has a new, uber-cool virtual reality experience that combines art, science and technology in an immersive and exciting way. Titled ‘We Live in an Ocean of Air’, this multi-sensory experience explores the invisible connection between plants and humans through breath. 

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Incorporating breath sensors, heart rate monitors, binaural sound, scent dispersal systems and wind machines, your guests will be able to interact with an entire ecosystem around a giant sequoia tree (the largest living individual organism on the planet). We told you it was cool. 

You can combine the experience with an event at the gallery, which has a 1,500 capacity. Besides, all the rooms of the 6,500sq m building are available for private hire with fees starting at £500. 


Arena Racing Company gathers all its racecourses under new brand, Yourvenue 


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Arena Racing Company (ARC) is the largest racecourse operator in the UK, with venues such as Royal Windsor Racecourse, Doncaster, Chepstow and Newcastle in its portfolio. These, and the further 12 racecourses, will now be linked under a new event and hospitality brand, Yourvenue.

Why is this a good thing? For one, it allows bookers to access all the different venues (which each hold special usage points) at one central hub – the new website.

Also, as director of marketing at ARC, Rachel White, says, it adds another level of flexibility – conferences, weddings, meetings and corporate parties can all be held at the group’s venues. In addition to the racecourses, ARC also operates hotels at several of its locations, including the Hilton Garden Inn Doncaster Racecourse, which opened in September 2018. 

Take Royal Windsor Racecourse, for instance. Overlooked by Windsor Castle and set in 165 acres of countryside on the banks of the Thames, the course has plenty to tempt year-round. On race days, it delivers straight-up hospitality in the Racecourse or Parade Ring viewing suites, along with pre-race conference packages. Outside the racing calendar, the venue is popular for large-scale conferences; with all that outdoor space, teambuilding activities are easily arranged too.

Rachel White told us: ‘Through launching Yourvenue, we wanted to tie all of our locations together so that we could broaden out from sixteen local markets to offer potential customers a place to consider all of our venues together, from anywhere in the world.’   

Science Museum opens its Flight Gallery to daytime events for the first time 


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The Science Museum’s Flight Gallery is one of the venue’s most stand-out spaces. You might recognise it by the full-sized planes hanging from the ceiling or the model aircraft memorabilia scattered around. Not to mention the fact that the entire room is formed as an air hanger replica. 

Excitingly, the gallery (which has predominantly only been open to the public until now), has opened for exclusive daytime hire for the first time ever. From January 2019, events for up to 400 people can take place here. Choose between a seated lunch and a standing reception – either way, your guests will be able to walk around on the overhead walkways to take in the full scale of the items on display. 

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Interested? Be quick, as the daytime events are only available on limited and selected dates. It’s also worth noting that the space can be hired in combination with the Imax theatre or the Science Museum’s latest addition of galleries – Illuminate. This means increased opportunities for events.

Evening hire is also an option, with the option of combining it with Illuminate, or even the Science Museum’s other new gallery opening, the Wonderlab: The Equinor Gallery. Pricing is being finalised, so keep a look out for it in the New Year.


New space at RIBA’s flagship venue is now available for private hire


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The Grade II-listed home of the Royal Institute of British Architects, 66 Portland Place, is an architectural showcase of etched glass and Portland stone carvings and a striking setting for events. The key to its success is its fusion of old and new: a tiered auditorium and its grand, art deco features are complemented by the facilities of a modern venue. 

Riba recently opened a new pop-up bar here right by the building’s impressive art deco staircase, and it’s open for private hire. Events for up to 70 guests can be booked all day on Mondays and Fridays. Packages start from £500 per event for non-members. 

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There are lots of different talks going on at the venue on a regular basis, so why not combine a drinks reception with one of the industry talks? 

Others standout areas at 66 Portland Place include the light-filled Florence Hall, with its terrace garden and the top-floor Wren Room, which has panoramic balcony views. Elsewhere, the Riba headquarters has award-winning conference and events facilities for up to 400 people. 

Why not give the events team a call at 020 7307 3888 or fill in the enquire form on the Riba page  


Swingers offers exclusive January packages especially for retail and hospitality sector


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For the retail and hospitality sector, a December Christmas party is almost unheard of. That’s why Swingers’ two London venues (West End and City) are offering exclusive January packages. Go crazy at the two mini golf venues while enjoying cocktails and street food. 

There are two packages up for grabs: The Secret Set (a round of golf and two drinks for £20pp), or The Hospitality Set (a round of golf, two drinks, a pizza platter and reserved area for 90 minutes, at a cost of £30pp). These can be applied to the different private rooms at the two venues. 

From the three rooms available at Swingers West End, our favourite has to be The Palm Lounge. The elegant space holds up to 45 people and has lovely palm wallpaper awakening an art-deco feel to an otherwise industrial and modern room. The Presidents Committee Room (pictured below) is another stand-out space, ideal for sit-down dining with a 30-person capacity.    

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Not that many? The Sun Room can hold up to 20 people and its walls are lined with a bright yellow sofa. For even smaller groups, we would suggest one of the pergolas (max 16 people). 

Over at Swingers City, The Presidents Committee Room comes with a private bar – win. It can hold up to 40 people and is super Instagram-worthy with its funky lights and bright blue chairs. The Gin Terrace evokes more of a summery feeling with plant vines in the ceiling and on the walls – you can fit 60 people in here.

Get in touch with the team on 020 3846 3222.