Central Hall Westminster appoints new Director of Sales and Events

Former head of hospitality at English Heritage, Neil Parry, has joined Central Hall Westminster as its Director of Sales and Events. This newly created role comes as the venue celebrates significant success achieved in the last two years.

Parry’s previous roles include general manager at London Aquarium, trade marketing manager at London Zoo and trade marketing manager at The Tussaud’s Group. He held his most recent role at English Heritage since 2008.

“I have been very fortunate in my career to have worked at some great venues and buildings,” said Parry, “so to get the chance to work at Central Hall Westminster with all its associated history and iconic status is an amazing opportunity for me. I am really looking forward to joining the team and continuing to deliver the huge success they have already achieved.”

Commenting on the appointment, Paul Southern, managing director at Central Hall Westminster, said: “We’ve had some great results at Central Hall over the last couple of years and I’m delighted that we can reinvest this success by growing and developing our team. Neil will bring a wealth of experience to the venue and I’m looking forward to him taking the venue in new, bold directions.”

The appointment of Parry comes together with the promotion of Maria Schuett to the newly created role of head of marketing. Schuett joined Central Hall as marketing manager in 2011, a role in which her achievements included the venue’s rebranding, the launch of a dedicated mobile website and a win at the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute Awards for ‘Best Internet/Media Campaign of overseas business in China’.

Schuett also developed the award-winning ‘Meet The Future’ campaign, a multi-faceted campaign that culminated in a dedicated event technology conference, helping the venue achieve a 53% increase in turnover in the 2013/14 financial year.

Commenting on her promotion, Schuett said: “I am passionate about the Central Hall brand and my industry. I am grateful to be working with such a forward-thinking team and venue that can help to shape the industry’s journey into the future with a real educational drive to progress and facilitate change.”

Southern added: “Maria’s enthusiasm and passion for her role is infectious and has played a big part in helping our venue achieve some of its best results on record. I’m delighted that we can recognise her achievements with this newly created role.

Central Hall Westminster (CHW) is central London’s largest purpose built conference centre, combining historical elegance with cutting-edge technical capabilities. The unique Edwardian landmark building, situated adjacent to Westminster Abbey, has engaged high profile conferences, special events and local business meetings since 1912. It has 22 event spaces available for hire.

Westminster Spotlight: Jaunty St James’s

Pull on your finely tailored suit and slide your favourite Cuban cigar into your pocket before you walk your dapper self through the wealthy district of St. James’s, an exquisitely presented neighbourhood with a retained 17th century exclusiveness that sees it home to a warren of grand hotels, corporate headquarters and gentleman’s clubs.

Find moreish delis and wine merchants, bespoke tailors and leather goods suppliers in and amongst art galleries, jewellers and restaurants on Jermyn Street and St James’s Street, before ogling posters of popular productions in residence outside the famed theatres lining Haymarket.

Moments from pretty Green Park and aristocratic Pall Mall, is St James’s Palace, a busy working palace which contains the London residences of The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall and Prince William and Prince Harry. To its eastern side is iconic road The Mall which ceremoniously frames the route to Buckingham Palace in all its grandeur and provides entry to the tranquil, landscaped greenery of St James’s Park, the oldest of the capital’s eight Royal Parks, with its sociable wildlife and picture perfect lake.

Millions of Londoners and tourists from near and far visit the district of St James’s every year to witness such spectacular pageants as Trooping the Colour (13 June this year) and community sporting events as the London Marathon (26 April) and the lure of this destination doesn’t fail to bring in the business tourist too. It’s a heartland for global conferences and corporate get-togethers, exclusive awards ceremonies and parties.

10-11 Carlton House TerraceAmongst our favourite venues is 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, a Roman Classical styled terrace dating back to the 1820s. It was built on the order of the Prince Regent, who later became George IV, with a desire in mind for its residents to enjoy far-reaching views of St James’s Park. Both number 10 and 11 were private homes to such high profile members of society as Prime Minister Gladstone and it was at the onset of World War I that the residents of number 10 opened up their home as a hospital for injured officers.

Despite bad damage sustained to the terrace during World War II, much of the venue’s interior remains intact and today, its characterful rooms house both the British Academy and all number of conferences, meetings, dinners and receptions for up to 600. You might even recognise the venue’s façade as the Diogenes Club from the BBC’s recent Sherlock Holmes series and as a stately home to the period drama Mr Selfridge.

116 Pall MallAnother of John Nash’s architectural feats is the Grade I listed 116 Pall Mall, the Institute of Directors’ headquarters with many a story to tell to excite the event planner looking for glory and heritage under one attractive roof. The Dark Knight, Ghandi and Foyles War were all filmed at the venue and it is one of only a small number of London locations that conceals a large, private garden perfect for outdoor events. Light the 20 original cast iron flambeaux that surround the venue for atmospheric evening illumination.

Find magnificent original paintings of the Regency period on the balcony of 116, many reflecting the naval and military history of the building and include two 16-foot wide oils depicting the Battles of Waterloo and Trafalgar and portraits of Lord Nelson and the Duke of Wellington. Marvel then at the magnificent 15-foot, hand-made Regency chandelier which was presented as a gift to the club by George IV in the early 19th century to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo.

With ability to cater for capacities of 10 to 400 people, 116 Pall Mall’s exquisite function rooms range from the elaborate and traditional to the understated, all revealing stunning Regency architecture and spectacular works of art. They can be hired individually or as interlinking combinations of spaces, all receiving natural light.

Army & Navy Club afternoon teaFor something altogether more leisurely, why not treat yourself or your clients to an afternoon of indulgence by escaping to the elegant surrounds of the Army & Navy Club’s Ladies’ Drawing Room for one of the most sensational, quintessentially British afternoon teas you’ll find in the area. Savoury treats and sweet delicacies entice and delight – choose from chilled, still fruit tea, strawberry dusted vanilla marshmallow, passion fruit and vanilla Catherine Wheels, lemon macaroons and British apple meringue pies – while traditional favourites, exquisite sandwiches and freshly-baked scones complete the enchanting experience. Priced at £38 per person, it’s an affordable treat for you and friends or colleagues. Just be sure to book at least 48 hours ahead by contacting Elana Kruger on Club@TheRag.co.uk.

The Westminster Collection brings together some of the finest and most unusual venues right across the City of Westminster, all located in zone one. Explore the venues we represent here, or use our interactive map to search by location.

Six extraordinary dining experiences #InsideTheCommons

The sensational interiors of the House of Commons will go on show to the public later this month as this unique venue releases a limited number of places to six extraordinary dining experiences in its Members’ Dining Room.

Offering a rare opportunity to dine within this iconic building, the House of Commons is delighted to invite bookings for 3-course menu experiences on 31 March, 1 April, 8 April, 9 April, 28 April and 29 April 2015.

Special permission granting rare access to this historic, members-only dining room comes as Members of Parliament ready themselves for the upcoming General Election, taking themselves away from the House of Commons to focus on campaigning.

The Members’ Dining Room menu focuses on fine British cuisine, with a 3-course menu and coffee priced at £35 per person.

Diners can take in the impressive surroundings, adorned with wooden sculptures, beautiful flock wallpaper and historic paintings. Previously intended as a conference room called the ‘Painted Chamber’, the Members’ Dining Room offers the perfect dining space and an ornate Royal coat of Arms sits proudly above the entrance.

Book a table online and begin your exploration of the rooms available for hire for corporate and private events here.

Westminster spotlight: Magnificent Marylebone

Majestic Georgian squares and terraces, Edwardian and Victoria mansion flats and pretty mews houses marry with fresh-off-the-catwalk fashion boutiques, bustling independent coffee shops and luxury hotels to create the animated and cosmopolitan neighbourhood of Marylebone.

For a zone one, central London destination, Marylebone’s cosy village vibe creates a charm that sees it consistently one of the most sought-after places to live in the capital. Its venue scene is exciting too with a treasure trove of knock-out spaces available to hire and theme for parties, dinners, meetings, conferences and other events. Here are 5 of our favourites:

Weave off Oxford Street in the direction of Regent’s Park and discover four fabulous venues a stone’s throw from the cut-and-thrust shopping strip.

No.11 orangery & courtyardNo.11 Cavendish Square, bordering the gated public garden behind John Lewis, is one of the few venues in London with outside space of its own. Marvel at the lush green ‘living wall’ and candle-lit water feature in the courtyard garden while you perch on high stools with a glass of something tasty in your hand. It’s a treat of a space for drinks receptions and alfresco dining in the warmer months, linking with the ever-stunning Orangery, the Grade II listed townhouse’s light-flooded room popular for wedding receptions, dinners, exhibitions and networking events.

Some 30 event spaces, with capacity for up to 300, flood four floors within this contemporary venue, which maintains many of the period features installed when it was built during the reign of King George III. Several large lecture theatres, break-out rooms, board rooms and conference suites combine high specification AV technology with service and facilities worthy of sought-after AIM Gold accreditation.

20 Cavendish Square - Council Room

On the opposite side of the gated garden is 20 Cavendish Square, home of the Royal College of Nursing with its fine Georgian mansion exterior and recently refurbished interiors. The new RCN Library and Heritage Centre is a great space for members and the public and includes a cafe, library, seminar room, archive centre and merchandise shop, while the 14 conference and meeting rooms offer bright and airy spaces for all types of corporate and private events. The Council Room is particularly beautiful with its intricate 1930s glass dome ceiling, connecting with Cowdray Hall to create an ideal space for evening drink receptions.

Further towards Regent’s Park, on peaceful Duchess Mews, is 2014’s ‘Best Conference Venue for up to 350 delegates’, as named at last year’s Conference Venue & Supplier Awards. Cavendish Conference Centre enjoys a great reputation for customer service and has been designed and built with the business user in mind, featuring state-of-the-art audio visual equipment and bright, spacious and modern facilities.

Cavendish Auditorium 3 screens

The bright, tiered auditorium seats 250 guests and is as well suited to exclusive use as it is to corporate AGMs, multi-day government conferences or evening training seminars. The accompanying Whittington Suite can be split into four sections and can comfortably host table-top exhibitions, while two additional break-out rooms, named after Great Portland Street and the neighbouring Harley Street in medical heartland, can host hot fork buffets, drinks receptions and workshops.

Take advantage of Cavendish Conference Centre’s regular special offers and incentives, such as 25% off Monday and Friday events.

RIBA Florence Hall TerraceStroll up onto Portland Place, and you’ll find RIBA Venues at number 66. As the conference and events arm of the Royal Institute of British Architects, it’s no surprise that this architectural gem boasts an array of stand-out Art Deco inspired features, some of which have provided the backdrop to films and fashion shows.

Ascend the grand marble stairs, dine by candlelight in the Florence Hall surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows and exceptional craftsmanship, or enjoy drinks and canapés on one of three roof terraces. Top floor rooms offer sensational panoramic views of London, while elsewhere you can find a range of hireable spaces, from a small boardroom for eight to a large conference for 280, dinner for 250 or a drinks reception for 400.

Since the extension of the BBC building, the area has buzzed with A-list celebrities, some of whom have dined in the RIBA restaurant – Andrew Lloyd Webber, Bob Geldof, Dermot O’Leary, Dom Joly, Ewan McGregor and Ryan Reynolds to name but a few. RIBA is also a regular host to exhibitions featuring world-class architecture drawings, models and photographs, which provide interesting eye candy to guests attending events at RIBA Venues. Venture inside and you’ll discover a book shop, a café and one of the finest architectural libraries in the world.

KK-VSC-0039Perched on the outer westerly edge of Marylebone district, a few minutes from Marble Arch, is the Victory Services Club, a prestigious Military Members Club for retired and serving members of the Armed Forces. Famed for outstanding service and AIM Gold standard facilities for meetings and events, this historic home of hospitality, which counts the Duchess of Cornwall as its patron, has 8 rooms available for hire for everything from reunion and regimental dinners, to major conferences, business launches, concerts and wedding receptions.

A recent partnership with a hotel agency allows the VSC to help clients source affordable hotel rooms for delegates and clients holding events on-site.

The Westminster Collection brings together some of the finest and most unusual venues right across the City of Westminster, all located in zone one. Explore the venues we represent here, or use our interactive map to search by location.

QEII transforms from international law conference to glittering awards lunch

After a whirlwind week that saw the four-day Global Law Summit bring the likes of Boris Johnson, Ed Miliband, The Rt. Hon. Jeremy Wright QC MP, Attorney General of England & Wales, The Rt. Hon, Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, President of the Supreme Court and film-star-cum-Global-Ambassador for War Child UK, Carey Mulligan, through the door for an international legal conference held to mark 800 years since the sealing of Magna Carta, the QEII Centre was privileged then to welcome the great and the good from the world of professional and trade associations on Friday 27 March, when the Association Excellence Awards came to life in its newly refurbished Churchill Auditorium.

It was an occasion to celebrate the success of individuals and teams in striving towards excellence in how associations operate and serve their members, organised by the Global Conference Network (GCN).

As the headline sponsor, QEII Centre was keen to pull out all the stops to serve a winning awards lunch menu in partnership with its talented catering team QEII Taste by Leith’s. Guests tucked into 24-hour smoked shin of Gloucestershire beef and rare grilled flat iron steak, served with carrot fondant, roasted artichoke, scored red onion and cherry tomato. Dessert was an indulgent Single Estate chocolate mogador, a dark chocolate and raspberry cylinder with raspberry cream and a salted caramel macaroon.

Speaking in a video interview before the awards presentation about the importance of these awards for the 300-strong audience, which included 40 C-level association leaders, host the Rt. Hon. Michael Portillo said, “As for the people represented here today, it’s just the most extraordinarily eclectic collection and I think people are going to be quite surprised because the range of activities almost defies the imagination.”

GCN awards are highly sought after because of the independent and rigorous judging process by industry practitioners and leaders, which means they showcase the very best, as judged by industry peers.

QEII Centre were proud to sponsor a selection of the awards categories, including Best Association Conference in London, won by Association for Project Management (APM) for their APM Project Management Conference, Best Advancement of a Cause, won by British Dental Association for DFT, Best Use of Social Media, won by Association of Accounting Technicians (AAT) for #MAATchat, and Best Association Awards, won by Chartered Institute of Public Relations for their CIPR Excellence Awards and sponsored by QEII Taste by Leith’s.