Hospitality entrepeneur and Dragon's Den judge Deborah Meaden tells us about her favourite venues and events

  • BEST Bash
    The best party I’ve ever attended was at my own house. Can I say that? I used to have a house with a big garden and I threw a food fest for 150 friends. All guests were allocated a country of the world and had to set up a food stall representing that nation. People were in the planning stage for six months. I knew it was being taken seriously when a building merchant turned up with a load of wood for a Chinese pagoda. I got 75 thank you cards for that and I hardly did a thing. It was brilliant.0808_Deborah_Meaden_in_front_of_the_Gherkin2.jpg
  • BEST Buzz
    A friend of mine used to own a bar in the Meatpacking District of New York. She held a wrap party for the film The Big Kahuna starring Kevin Spacey and Danny de Vito. It was a private event, just for the actors and crew, but it was a fantastic night that went on until 6am.
  • BEST Hospitality
    I try to avoid corporate entertainment. If I want to go to an event, I prefer to do so on my own terms. That said, a private equity house once took me to a Rolling Stones concert and that was quite a night.
  • BEST Bed
    I think the best bed tends to follow the worst journey. My husband and I backpacked in India for a week, after which we went for a week of luxury. The first night was in the Taj Lake Palace at Udaipur. There was a plague in the region at the time so the place was deserted and we got upgraded to the best room. I’m not sure what the staff made of us but the bed was incredible.
  • BEST Venue
    The top of the Gherkin [30 St Mary Axe]. I was there for the finals of the Great British Menu and it is a really good space with the most amazing 360-degree view of London.
  • BEST Drink
    My favourite drink used to be Champagne but, believe it or not, I developed an allergic reaction to it at Duncan Bannatyne’s wedding. Now, I enjoy a good apple Martini or long, cold, sparkling cider on a hot summer’s day. 
  • BEST of the best
    For my ultimate party, I would hire a castle in Scotland and take 80 of my friends and family. We’d have drinks, an honest, hearty meal and fireworks – I love a damned good firework display! There would be dancing from midnight until dawn and then we’d go outside to watch the sun rise over the amazing Scottish scenery before heading straight in for breakfast.

Deborah Meaden is one of the fire-breathing entrepreneurs on the hit BBC television show Dragons’ Den. She cut her teeth in business running a bingo concession at her parent’s holiday park and later ended up running their company, Weststar Holidays. Today, she is a full-time investor and, contrary to the image portrayed by Dragons’ Den, a charming and friendly character. She also knows how to have a good time.

This article first appeared in Square Meal Venues & Events magazine, Autumn 2008.