I didn't know you could hire that

Written by Paul May 19 2015

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I didn’t know you could hire that

It’s no secret that the meeting and events industry took a hammering in the recession, however one peculiar positive to emerge was the increase in new venues. Ok so that’s a bit misleading, we didn’t see brand new conference centres being built all over the shop, what we saw was both public & private buildings offering unused or part used space to the events market. Companies sublet meeting rooms when not in use, museums hired out galleries, libraries held conferences and theatres went for corporates over matinees, anything to raise a few extra quid during the tough times. Of course now the recession has past this new wave of venues haven’t shut their doors, in fact many have continued their expansion into the venue market. In our office we call them secondary venues, in that they have another main purpose or revenue stream. These secondary venues tend to fall into two camps, those that see venue hire as a key revenue driver and will host almost any event, and those that see it as a ‘nice to have’ rather than essential and will be more selective about who they allow to hire their spaces.

Below is a selection of some of the most iconic secondary venues in London, some are exclusive, others are as flexible as most conference venues.

Museum of London Nestled in the heart of The City the Museum of London has venues for both daytime conferences and meetings, as well as evening corporate events and dinners. Hirers can choose from a variety of spaces including the Terrace Rooms, ideal for conferences and with access to the private garden areas, and the Sackler Gallery, an outstanding space for dinners of 350 guests with an amazing 360 degree digital ellipse for branding and production.

St Paul’s Cathedral A venue so iconic there are even laws in place to ensure it can always be seen. Believe it or not they offer affordable meeting spaces for up to 70 delegates the Wren Suite & Temple Bar. They also offer outdoor space in the North Churchyard, where BBQs for 350 guests can be hosted. The real gem, however, is the Crypt, where you’ll find the tombs of Admiral Nelson, the Duke of Wellington, and architect of St Paul’s, Sir Christopher Wren. The space is the largest of its kind in Europe and can host dinners for 250 or receptions for 350 guests in incredible surroundings.

Tower Bridge There’s every chance you could have been driving over Tower Bridge of an evening, clueless to the fact that 40+ metres above you 70 guests were about to tuck into dinner. From 6.30pm onwards the towers walkways are transformed into one of London’s most unique venues. Also available for evening hire are the old engine rooms, complete with the original coal-driven engines, once used to power the bridge. This is the perfect space for a drinks reception before taking guests up to the walkways for dinner.

ZSL London Zoo If you’ve ever fancied hosting a drinks reception in a Lion enclosure, networking event in a reptile house or BBQ on Penguin Beach then ZSL London Zoo in Regent’s Park is the venue for you. Aside from these more unique spaces, all of which can be hired, they offer a lecture theatre for conferences and the Mappin Pavilion for meetings and dinner, which overlooks the Emus & Wallabies. There main space is the Prince Albert Suite, which is available year round for conference and dinners of up to 260. The Zoo offers flexible spaces and some great rates, they can event arrange ‘Animal Encounters’ should you wish.

Chelsea FC, Stamford Bridge One of London’s most central sports venues Chelsea can cater for all events and has a selection of beautifully appointed boxes/restaurants and the impressive Great Hall, which seats 900 and is cleverly transformed from a concrete tunnel with the use of drapes and carpet into a stunning space for large conferences and dinners. They also have hotels and parking on site and are just a 2 minute walk from Fulham Broadway.

Natural History Museum If you’re looking for a really unique event the Natural History Museum in Kensington offers use of the its feature space, the Hintze Hall (dinners up to 650), in the evenings where you can dine in the howdy of the legendary Dippy the Diplodocus. The wow factor here doesn’t come cheap, at around £22k for hire only you would need to budget £175-200 a head with food, drink, production etc. Elsewhere in the venue is the stunning Earth Hall, with centrepiece escalator, the Darwin Centre, with soaring 8-storey atrium and private garden, or the Flett Theatre which is available for daytime conferences.

Do you require a venue for a conference, meeting or event in the UK? If so click here to make a free enquiry and see up to the minute availability and prices for suitable venues.