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Looking good, London

London is a city that needs no introduction. It has been one of the world’s leading destinations for business events since business events began (if such a thing can be articulated). The skyline has evolved a great deal over the last 20 years, and while new landmark buildings have their obvious appeal, beneath the glass and the cantilevers is a trove of unique venues which can offer striking perspectives of the city.

Lisa Hatswell, managing director at Unique Venues of London, which is celebrating 25 years in 2018, shares with CN her insights on the all-important role that unique venues play, especially considering times of uncertainty and with Brexit on the horizon.  

With Brexit comes change, how important is it that London digs deep, beyond the norm, to sell itself based on its unique venues?

London over the years has encountered many challenges, but it always continues business as usual. This applies to people holding events in London, too, and, to ensure that guests feel special at these difficult times, selecting the right venue is crucial. 

Choosing a unique venue demonstrates to your guests that you have carefully considered the space, and the topics being discussed or celebrated are complemented by the history or design of these unique buildings.

How important is a venue to an event’s overall experience?

Beyond the necessity of what is needed in a room for a particular event, unique venues can provide highly memorable experiences. 

During an event, guests can experience back stage tours, curators’ talks, animal experience and treasure hunts, which all add to the overall guest experience.

Which common misconceptions exist with unique venues that you can correct?

Often unique venues to some clients seem too much of a challenge. 

Some planners worry a unique venue implies extra work in terms of organisation and logistics, and there’s also the factor of infrastructure to take into consideration.

The support is there through the expert event managers working within the venues, who work alongside their building specialists and accredited suppliers to produce the most wonderful events each week. 

In 2017, 32,000 events were held across our member venues and over £91m of revenue generated showing that events are truly very much part of these buildings’ everyday lives.

Venues with a view

Trinity House sits in the shadow of the Tower of London, where the great and the good of lighthouse and maritime authority have met for hundreds of years.

The Court Room is centrally located and is typical of an historic venue: wood panels and portraits of monarchs. 

Alongside grand portraits of likes of Henry VIII and George IV, you will find an original portrait of Elizabeth I. Under this, you can hold events for between 10 and 130 delegates. The room is popular for both dinners and receptions. 

At the end of the corridor you will find The Library. This space is home to a portrait of Winston Churchill, who was once an Elder Brother of Trinity House, which looks out over the room. For receptions it can accommodate up to 180, whereas 130 can dine comfortably. At the southern end of the room are three large windows (pictured above), which underlines one key reason why business choose the UK capital in the first place: the view.

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The Johnson Roof Terrace is a distinctive space which opens up 180-degree panoramic views over the city from Canary Wharf to the Palaces of Westminster. The roof terrace can be booked with the Riverside Room creating an al fresco events space while licensing permits the use of the roof as an outdoor cinema. 

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The recently refurbished rooftop venue, The Deck, at the National Theatre, offers an impressive panorama across London and the Thames. The city and river-scape views as you walk into the space are framed by floor-to-ceiling retractable glass walls that maintain the clean-cut feel of the interior. The views create a photo-worthy backdrop for corporate events, product launches, barbecues and cocktail parties for up to 170.

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Nestled at the east end of London’s biggest roof garden, Giant Robot is a cool eating and drinking rooftopia in Canary Wharf, ideal for groups from 10 to 700 for meetings, conferences and live events. Guests can enjoy food and drink from street food pioneers Street Feast, while soaking up the alternative views across the industrial docklands, framed by the City’s iconic high-rises.

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Guests at Banqueting House need not look outside the venue for a breathtaking view; the ceiling paintings by Sir Peter Paul Rubens are an awe-inspiring sight. Commissioned for James I and lined with sweeping pillars in the palace’s Main Hall, events taking place underneath this masterpiece are guaranteed to be a memorable occasion.

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