The western fringes of the City hold a plethora of exciting event options. Amanda Marcus explores the area around Clerkenwell

Percento Private Room When it comes to listing London hotspots, the western fringes of the City might not be the first area to spring to mind. Yet the past few years have seen it undergo something of a revival and it is now positively buzzing. Lying roughly between the West End and the Square Mile, it is not only crammed with street life and culture but is also home to a great range of venues.

  Trendy gastropubs and some of London’s best restaurants jostle for business alongside historic function rooms, edgy galleries and two of London’s largest nightclubs.

And, as Paul Southern, director of European Events, explains, there are plenty more reasons for event organisers to head to the area. ‘Access is great, there are lots of buses and you’re close to loads of hotel options,’ he says. ‘It’s a nice, safe area and the location is ideal.’

For the purposes of this article, we’ve defined City West as the area between the Thames in the south, Rosebery Avenue in the north, Chancery Lane in the west and Aldersgate Street in the east.

Its pulsating heart is Clerkenwell, an area that manages to be both historic and hip. Oliver Cromwell once owned a house here and it was in these streets that Fagin and the Artful Dodger first lured Oliver into pick-pocketing. These days, though, you’re more likely to bump into the area’s trendy media crowd, or City boys escaping the traditional bars of the Square Mile for a night out with a bit of an edge.


Big Wheel Studio

WHAT: studio space above the Clerkenwell Theatre in bustling Exmouth Market

BEST FOR: auditions, rehearsals or dance classes

TOP TIP: bring your own lunch or ask one of the many local delis to deliver

Above Clerkenwell Theatre, Exmouth Market, tel: 020 7689 8670

FR:2 M:30 D:- R:-

Bridewell Theatre

WHAT: fully-equipped lecture theatre with a range of adjoining function rooms

BEST FOR: conferences in the 134-seater theatre; wedding receptions in Bridewell Hall, which has tall ceilings and large windows

TOP TIP: the theatre’s raked seating can be removed to create additional party space

Bride Lane, Fleet Street, tel: 020 7353 3331

FR:7 M:150 D:110 R:200

Butchers’ Hall

WHAT: stunning City livery hall, with seven rooms that can be combined in several ways

BEST FOR: anything from intimate dinners to receptions for up to 250

TOP TIP: the beautifully wood-panelled George Adams Room, which seats six, offers grandeur on a small scale

87 Bartholomew Close, tel: 020 7653 6666

FR:7 M:180 D:120 R:250

The Carthusian Suite

WHAT: conference and dining venue at the Chamber of Shipping, two minutes’ walk from Barbican underground station

BEST FOR: meetings for groups of between 12 and 100 delegates

TOP TIP: all rooms have natural lighting, fitted blinds and air-conditioning

12 Carthusian Street, tel: 020 7417 2813

FR:7 M:180 D:120 R:250

CCT Venues – Smithfield

WHAT: two contemporary meeting rooms in a Grade II-listed building that forms part of Smithfield Market

BEST FOR: conferences, meetings and training sessions

TOP TIP: the venue serves lunch and refreshments in the onsite café, which can seat 120 delegates

2 East Poultry Avenue, Smithfield, tel: 020 7332 0881

FR:20 M:250 D:120 R:200

City University

WHAT: a wide range of meeting and conference facilities with an academic vibe in traditional and modern settings, from boardrooms and conference suites to auditoriums

BEST FOR: conferences that require a large number of rooms

TOP TIP: bedrooms, suites and even flats are available to let out of term time

City University, Northampton Square, tel: 020 7040 8037

FR:20+ M:360 D:300 R:400

Crypt on the Green

WHAT: large attractive space with high vaulted ceilings underneath St James Church on Clerkenwell Green

BEST FOR: companies looking for an unusual meeting venue

TOP TIP: working lunches can be provided on request

St James Church, Clerkenwell Close, tel: 07930 573873

FR:3 M:200 D:- R:250

The Crypt

WHAT: 600-year-old Crypt, off Bleeding Heart Yard, which has been hosting celebrity parties since Henry VIII held his three-day wedding feast there in 1531

BEST FOR: atmospheric dinners or receptions

TOP TIP: the medieval surrounds look even better by candlelight

Bleeding Heart Yard, Greville Street, tel: 020 7242 2056,

FR:1 M:- D:120 R:200

Farmers’ and Fletchers Hall

WHAT: bright contemporary livery hall with three well-appointed meeting rooms, which can be combined to cater for up to 250 at a stand-up reception.

BEST FOR: meetings and conferences

TOP TIP: the lack of noise outside the venue makes it a fabulous place for a business retreat

3 Cloth Street, tel: 020 7600 2204

FR:3 M:120 D:120 R:250

Founders’ Hall

WHAT: striking contemporary venue located on one of the oldest streets in London, offering rooms in very different styles

BEST FOR: presentations, meetings and private dining

TOP TIP: the cosy Parlour is perfect for small meetings or dinners

1 Cloth Fair, tel: 020 7653 6666

FR:3 M:80 D:64 R:100

Gray’s Inn

WHAT: one of the four Inns of Court and a flexible event space with traditional Elizabethan roots, featuring majestic stained glass windows and heraldic shields

BEST FOR: grand corporate events

TOP TIP: the stunning grounds play host to cocktail parties in the garden’s marquee

8 South Square, tel: 020 7458 7960

FR: 7 M: 200 D: 200 R: 350

Haberdashers’ Hall

WHAT: the City’s most contemporary livery hall and an extremely versatile venue, built around a courtyard garden

BEST FOR: grand events with a distinctly 21st century edge

TOP TIP: the Orangery and Courtyard make a great backdrop for summer receptions

18 West Smithfield, tel: 0870 780 9642

FR:6 M:225 D:210 R:350

The Hatton

WHAT: a stylish modern venue between Chancery Lane and Farringdon, offering dedicated meeting and training rooms
spread over seven floors

BEST FOR: conferences involving workshops and break-out sessions

TOP TIP: one of the self-contained suites has its own courtyard and restaurant

51-53 Hatton Garden, tel: 020 7242 4123

FR:22 M:140 D:140 R:150

HMS President

WHAT: moored next to Blackfriars Bridge, HMS President offers panoramic views and varied event space

BEST FOR: parties and receptions

TOP TIP: the ship’s bars and decks are licensed to serve until 2am

Victoria Embankment, tel: 020 7583 1918

FR:- M: 240 D:210 R:350

Inner Temple Hall

WHAT: historic Georgian function rooms within the Inns of Court

BEST FOR: private and corporate dining, receptions and weddings

TOP TIP: hire the award-winning three-acre garden for summer entertainment

Crown Office Row, tel: 020 7797 8230

FR:4 M:60 D:250 R:600

Law Society’s Hall

WHAT: eight stylish rooms in grand yet functional surroundings within walking distance of three tube stations

BEST FOR: atmospheric dining in the Common Room or weekend weddings in the grand, pillared Reading Room

TOP TIP: There’s excellent in-house catering

113 Chancery Lane, tel: 020 7320 9555

FR:8 M:280 D:200 R:350

London Stock Exchange

WHAT: the heart of City trading is also a purpose-built events venue

BEST FOR: presentations, training sessions and business-focused dinners or receptions

TOP TIP: arrive early to catch presenters from the BBC and Sky giving their live broadcasts for the breakfast news

10 Paternoster Square, tel: 020 7797 2040

FR:5 M:120 D:120 R:300

Mermaid Conference & Events Centre

WHAT: striking venue next to Blackfriars station, featuring a 600-capacity auditorium with a huge stage, plus two main function rooms with great views of the river

BEST FOR: conferences and themed events

TOP TIP: the whole venue can be booked exclusively and be branded if required

The Mermaid, Puddle Dock, tel: 0870 780 9480

FR:12 M:600 D:220 R:600

Middle Temple Hall

WHAT: one of the finest Elizabethan halls in the country, featuring an original hammer-beam roof and stained glass windows

BEST FOR: wedding receptions and corporate dinners

TOP TIP: the award-winning garden makes a great summer party choice

Middle Temple Lane, tel: 020 7427 4820

FR:4 M:350 D:300 R:500

The Newsroom

WHAT: archive and visitor centre for The Guardian and The Observer newspapers, set in a renovated 19th-century warehouse

BEST FOR: conferences in the 90-seat lecture theatre or receptions in the 220-capacity exhibition hall

TOP TIP: note that the exhibition hall is only available for hire from 5pm onwards

60 Farringdon Road, tel: 020 7886 9898

FR:6 M:220 D:- R:220

Old Sessions House

WHAT: historic conference centre with lots of original features. The entrance hall and the dome, modelled on the Pantheon in Rome, are particularly fine, although the meeting rooms could do with a little freshen-up

BEST FOR: conferences, weddings and formal parties

TOP TIP: the Jailers Room, located in the cells area of the old courthouse, makes an unusual party space

Clerkenwell Green, tel: 020 7250 1212

FR:10 M:180 D:120 R:200


WHAT: high-profile art gallery available for weekly exhibitions and evening functions

BEST FOR: receptions, exhibitions or book launches

TOP TIP: there’s no onsite catering but you can bring in your own food

114 Clerkenwell Road, tel: 020 7608 3333

FR:1 M:- D:- R:100

Sadler’s Wells

WHAT: contemporary theatre with great facilities, which include a theatre with movable acoustic walls and an impressive auditorium housing up to 1,500 people

BEST FOR: large meetings, film screenings and corporate functions

TOP TIP: one to bear in mind if you are catering for handicapped guests – the access is fantastic

Rosebery Avenue, tel: 020 7863 8065

FR:9 M:1,500 D:120 R:350

Scotch Malt Whisky Society

WHAT: members’ club specialising in whisky tastings. Two meeting rooms are available for hire, with or without the whisky

BEST FOR: small-scale meetings and private dining

TOP TIP: catering is provided by the Bleeding Heart Restaurant located in the same building

19 Greville Street, tel: 020 7831 4447

FR:2 M:24 D:24 R:40

St John’s Gate

WHAT: the Grade I-listed headquarters of the Order of St John (St John’s Ambulance), featuring oak panelling, high, vaulted ceilings, and artifacts dating back to the Crusades

BEST FOR: receptions in the Chapter Hall

TOP TIP: organisers can bring their own caterer

St John’s Gate, St John’s Lane, tel: 020 7324 4005

FR:1 M:25 D:80 R:200

St Paul’s Cathedral

WHAT: the architectural masterpiece of Sir Christopher Wren is also a unique venue for corporate events and includes a number of different event spaces

BEST FOR: dinner in the atmospheric crypt, which seats up to 250

TOP TIP: note that there is also meeting space onsite

St Paul’s Churchyard, tel: 020 7246 8346

FR:3 M:75 D:250 R:350

Staple Inn Hall

WHAT: a Tudor entrance leads into a rose-filled courtyard and on to this 16th century hall, which offers romance and tranquillity in the heart of the city

BEST FOR: weddings and receptions in a grand setting

TOP TIP: check out the splendid minstrel’s gallery

High Holborn, tel: 020 7632 2127

FR:3 M:160 D:120 R:200

Stationers’ Hall

WHAT: a fabulous venue next to St Paul’s Cathedral, where exclusive-hire facilities include three interconnecting rooms and a stunning garden

BEST FOR: weddings or receptions in the magnificent hall, which features stained-glass windows, oak panelling and armorial banners

TOP TIP: the garden makes a great spot for summer cocktail parties and barbeques

Ave Maria Lane, tel: 020 7246 0999

FR:4 M:240 D: 205 R:400

Urban Golf – Smithfield

WHAT: an all-new indoor golf centre with eight simulators, a bar and lounge, two putting greens and coaching facilities

BEST FOR: corporate events focusing on golf as the theme

TOP TIP: the simulators accommodate up to eight people at a time

12 Smithfield Street, tel: 020 7248 8600

FR:- M:- D:- R:250


Crowne Plaza London – The City

WHAT: modern City hotel offering state-of-the-art conference facilities in a convenient location for the West End and City

BEST FOR: conferences, presentations or entertaining in Georgio Locatelli’s onsite Italian restaurant, Refettorio

TOP TIP: hold a chic cocktail party in the contemporary lobby

19 New Bridge Street, tel: 0870 400 9190

FR:4 M:160 D:130 R:170


WHAT: hip and funky City hotel with a chic Champagne bar and brasserie, plus two hi-tech meeting rooms

BEST FOR: presentations, meetings, drinks parties and private dining

TOP TIP: complementary high-speed wireless internet access is available in the meeting rooms

18-21 Charterhouse Square, tel: 020 7012 3717

FR:2 M:30 D:30 R:60

The Rookery

WHAT: elegant boutique hotel with lots of period charm that makes it feel like a private club

BEST FOR: board meetings and small drinks parties

TOP TIP: the hotel can do canapé parties for up to 25 but it does not offer private dining facilities

Peter’s Lane, Cowcross Street, tel: 020 7336 0931

FR:3 M:30 D:- R:25

The Zetter

WHAT: quirky, stylish hotel with flexible hi-tech meeting spaces

BEST FOR: receptions, private dinners and business meetings

TOP TIP: overnight guests can check into one of seven rooftop studios

86-88 Clerkenwell Road, tel: 020 7324 4444

FR:2 M:50 D:80 R:100



WHAT: trendy cocktail bar with upstairs pool tables, just two minutes’ walk from Farringdon and Barbican tube stations.

BEST FOR: post-work pool and late-night parties (it is licensed until 1.30am from Thursday to Saturday)

TOP TIP: the pool tables can be moved to create additional party space

19-20 Great Sutton Street, tel: 020 7253 1920

FR:- M:- D:60 R:300

Bleeding Heart

WHAT: landmark restaurant with beautifully restored private dining rooms in an intimate, historic setting, midway between the City and West End

BEST FOR: private dining and drinks parties

TOP TIP: the Wine Cellar, with its interesting collection of vinous memorabilia, makes a great venue for oenophiles – and the wine list here is excellent

Bleeding Heart Yard, Greville Street, tel: 020 7242 2056

FR:6 M:- D:60 R:120

The Chancery

WHAT: discreet restaurant between Fleet Street and High Holborn, run by the team behind The Clerkenwell

BEST FOR: business lunches, private dining and drinks parties with top-quality canapés

TOP TIP: the sleek dining room can be split in two, accommodating up to 30 people for a semi-private dinner

9 Cursitor Street, tel: 020 7831 4000

FR:3 M:70 D:50 R:100

The Clerkenwell

WHAT: modern, stylish eatery offering good food, friendly service and excellent value for money

BEST FOR: everything from intimate meetings to dinner parties – this place is very flexible

TOP TIP: the private dining room also has its own bar

69-73 St John Street, tel: 020 7253 9000

FR:4 M:45 D:120 R:150

Dans le Noir

WHAT: restaurant swathed in complete darkness, promising a memorable sensory experience and a sure talking point

BEST FOR: team-building or corporate entertainment with a difference

TOP TIP: debrief in the bright, modern lounge

30-31 Clerkenwell Green, tel: 020 7253 1100

FR:2 M:- D:60 R:-


WHAT: highly versatile entertaining space in a spectacular environment of 60ft raw-brick arches, glass, stainless steel and wood, catering for up to 1,800 guests

BEST FOR: parties, private events and product launches

TOP TIP: note the restricted hours – the club is only available to hire on Monday-Thursday evenings and Monday-Friday in the daytime

77a Charterhouse Street, tel: 020 7549 4844

FR:4 M:500 D:250 R:1,800

Firefly City

WHAT: art deco-style restaurant and intimate cocktail lounge bar opposite the Old Bailey. Its three floors are all available for exclusive hire

BEST FOR: lively corporate events, lunchtime conferences and evening cocktail parties

TOP TIP: book the impressive kitchens for a corporate cookery challenge

18 Old Bailey, tel: 020 7248 5085

FR:3 M:120 D:120 R:550

Just the Bridge

WHAT: stylish restaurant and bar right next to the Millennium Bridge with great views over the river to the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe

BEST FOR: private parties, weddings

TOP TIP: hire the riverside terrace for alfresco entertaining

1 Paul’s Walk, off Upper Thames Street, tel: 020 7236 0000

FR:1 M:- D:100 R:250

Nineteen Below

WHAT: brand new bar within the Crowne Plaza hotel, offering excellent cocktails, Italian snack food, plus live entertainment from singers or DJs throughout the week

BEST FOR: office dos, birthday parties or post-work drinks

TOP TIP: book the 30-capacity Glass Room, which offers privacy with views of the action

Crowne Plaza London, 19 New Bridge Street, tel: 020 7438 8054

FR:2 M:8 D:8 R:150


WHAT: a modern Italian restaurant with onsite conference facilities

BEST FOR: business meals, meetings and private dining

TOP TIP: early birds can book a breakfast meeting – the restaurant’s open from 6.30am

26 Ludgate Hill, tel: 020 7778 0010

FR:4 M:140 D:100 R:200


WHAT: buzzy bar and restaurant with a private dining room, separate small party space and contemporary conservatory with indoor alfresco feel

BEST FOR: private dining, small drinks parties or exclusive-use receptions

TOP TIP: try the petiscos – Portal’s excellent assortment of Portuguese tapas

88 St John Street, tel: 020 7253 6950

FR:3 M:14 D:90 R:200

Press House Wine Bar

WHAT: atmospheric wine bar underneath St Bride’s Church, offering an extensive wine list, good food and frequent tasting events

BEST FOR: receptions, parties and weddings

TOP TIP: ask the staff to suggest the perfect wine to match your food

1 St Bride’s Passage, tel: 020 7353 5059

FR:- M:- D:90 R:150


WHAT: one of the capital’s biggest nightclubs and a striking, versatile space for 50 to 1,000 people – excellent food and drinks packages to match the space

BEST FOR: everything from product launches to parties

TOP TIP: the venue has a 24-hour entertainment licence

63 Clerkenwell Road, tel: 020 7250 3409

FR:4 M:300 D:150 R:600

Venus Table Dance Club

WHAT: fully-nude table dancing club with three VIP areas, five pole-dancing stages and a continuous stage show

BEST FOR: male corporate entertaining and stag nights

TOP TIP: go with an open mind and don’t invite anyone who might be offended

29/35 Farringdon Road, tel: 020 7242 1571

FR:1 M:- D:- R:300


WHAT: the events scene goes burlesque at this newcomer inspired by the 1920s cabaret scene – dimly-lit cocktail bar, cabaret singers and 1920s flapper girls

BEST FOR: parties and dining in a fun setting

TOP TIP: facilities include a stage and adjustable music and lighting

7-9 Norwich Street, tel: 020 7831 1622

FR:2 M:100 D:75 R:200

The White Swan

WHAT: traditional pub in the heart of legal land, topped by an elegant dining room and small cocktail bar

BEST FOR: office parties, business meals or informal wedding receptions

TOP TIP: the venue is licensed until 3am

108 Fetter Lane, tel: 020 7242 9696

FR:2 M:44 D:44 R:120

This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events magazine, Spring 2007.