People always us ask ‘What’s your favourite venue in London?’
But that’s like asking: What’s your favourite song? What’s your favourite bar? What’s your favourite position? Amongst other things, it all depends on: Who you’re with, what mood you’re in and what you’re doing at the time.
In terms of stunning architecture: the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal Opera House, St. Pauls Cathedral, the Royal Naval College and the V&A. All, literally, jaw dropping when you first enter them. This affects everyone, not just people with a PHD in Architecture. Why?
Well, one thing they all have in common is size. The width and height of the ceilings help create such capacious rooms, you can’t help but get that overwhelming feeling of your own humanity. It’s like the first time you go to a football match and see 50,000 people together. Of course, even knowing very little about the history of a building, you can still sense it in some places. Certain venues have an aura: St Paul’s, The Tower of London, Westminster Abbey *coughs* the Emirates stadium
(alright, slightly biased on that one).
So when we were asked to give a list of venues with the coolest architecture in London, we thought long and hard about how to approach it. Do we just list the above venues, which you all know? And let’s face it, do a pretty ‘C Grade’ GCSE write up on places that have had a thousand more educated men than us waxing lyrical about the designs/decor and structure. I’ve got a friend who is a direct descendant of Sir Christopher Wren. She’s his great, great (x however many) granddaughter. No, really! She’s a metal worker. Trust me, you don’t want to p*ss her off.
So what we decided was to stick to our strengths. Here’s our list of some of our favourite spaces in London. Not because of the location, not because of the staff and certainly not because of how stunning they look on the horizon. Simply because of how cool the rooms are. After all, beauty is on the inside.
Walking into a medieval church is always going to be alluring to the child in me. Even if I’m not religious in any way and am sprinting to my thirties faster than Linford Christie after a fresh shot of Nandrolone. It helped that I was told going in that Henry VIII held his three day wedding feast here in 1531. Someone who loves history like me will always get that tingly feeling on the back of the neck, when I close my eyes and try and picture the past in front of me. The revealed brick work, stain glass windows and stone floor helps immerse you in this history. The lack of daylight and beamed ceiling gives it a Da Vinci code mysticism. We’ve been pushing this place for 18 months now and held three fantastic events.
When we start to operate our own venues again, this would be the type of space we’d want in our portfolio. Exactly what you expect from the ‘ONE group’: different, top end and as cool as it gets.
This latest ‘One’ venture is sequestered under the Embankment, an exemplification of chic decadence. There’s a 360° balcony overlooking the main space downstairs and an elaborate staircase for you to do your Kate Winslet in Titanic bit. There’s a great area for live bands and music, with little pockets of extra space for privacy. The best thing about this venue is its flexibility. You’d be quite at home dressing down in jeans with your tattoos out for a gig, or wearing a tux and having a 3 course meal with the unsinkable Molly Brown.
The Ivory Vaults
From this list you’ll be able to tell we’re suckers for revealed brickwork. This venue is well known for the Medieval Banquet and themed nights it hosts, to both the general public and corporates – by the way it’s a cracking night out if you haven’t been. Who doesn’t want to scream for more beer and shout ‘WENCH’ whilst simultaneously banging their goblet on the table. I must admit I did flinch for the first hour or so, expecting my mum to slap me round the back of the head (she used to hate me doing that) – The main space of the venue is met by several alcoves on each side, making the focal point for each table of guests slightly different. Perfect for immersive entertainment.
The Magazine Restaurant
One of the things that make this the greatest city in the world is the juxtaposition between old and new – the Shard popping up on the landscape behind the Tower of London for instance.
That being said: there is a massive lack of contemporary venues in the capital. That’s why the Magazine restaurant offers something so different to other spaces. Almost futuristic in its design, flooded with light, with a tiny bit of that brickwork we love so much. It’s kind of like walking into an extremely expensive kitchen design store; it’s so clean and slick. With slightly more provocative furniture it wouldn’t look out of place to have ‘Moloko Vellocet’ written on the wall.
The Waldorf Palm Court
We keep banging on about this space, but – unapologetically – I’m going to mention it again.
The first time I entered Palm Court, it really took my breath away. Magisterial in its elegance, it’s one of those times you feel really lucky to be in events. You get that “how else would a gal like me, end up in a place like this” moment of self-deprecation. We finally managed to get an event secured in here last October and that definitely ticked off a top ten on our London events ‘bucket list’.
It’s bright and airy, with not an inch wasted, from its glass ceiling, via its stunning pillars down to its marble floor. I feel like every time I do a site visit here, I should be wearing a toga and carrying a scroll talking about mathematics. In fact, watch this space.
The Tudor Barn (Eltham)
This write up is all about the inside of venues, so I won’t mention the stunning grounds and medieval moat surrounding the Barn (In fact I’m not going to mention that it’s got a Moat twice).
It’s all that remains of a country mansion built for Thomas More’s daughter. Another fascinating historical building that London is so lucky to have. I love the beamed ceilings that are synonymous with these types of places. With such a beautiful and flexible space, you can see why so many events here are perfectly executed (oops, bad choice of words).
This studio in Willesden offers something cool and a little different (not many venues overlook a graveyard). The oak floors, high vaulted ceilings and white walls, combined with an abundance of natural daylight make it a sought-after location for daytime events. Its warehouse look gives it the kind of ‘Manor house shared accommodation’ feel, so popular with the ‘20 something’ young professionals of today. Hopefully, there’s a few less bongs smoked here in the early hours.