Your London Christmas party venue guide

Fancy dress parties, indulgent feasts, pop-up supper clubs, intimate private dinners, glamorous costume balls, live gigs – festive shindigs come in all shapes and sizes, particularly in London where you’re literally swamped with destinations offering all sorts of weird and wonderful party packages. Here’s our round-up of some of the best places to make your Christmas snap, crackle and pop, whether it’s a work party or a memorable function for your most valued clients. Simply click the links below to read each feature…

Good, old-fashioned nostalgia: 1920s & 1940s

VIP gigs and the edible Sugar Palace

Your own private members club

Lights, camera, exhibition!

A classic Christmas knees-up

Christmas with a conscience

Roasted chestnuts, mulled wine and carols

Intimate, private dining celebrations

Work hard, play hard

Christmas party venues: Good, old-fashioned nostalgia: 1920s & 1940s

Smoking hot jazz and timeless Tom Collins gin cocktails meet authentic props within a rich wood-carved backdrop as 45 Millbank teams up with Seasoned Events and Fisher Productions to present The Walnut Supper Club, a unique party package inspired by booming 1920s America.

All-inclusive packages include exclusive hire of 45 Millbank, props and styling, vintage cocktail on arrival, either a three-course dinner or luncheon, or a bowl food reception, together with a 4.5-hour unlimited drinks package including beer and house wine, event lighting, DJ, music system and dance floor. Rates start at £50pp and are available with or without catering. Call 020 7514 8514 or email 45millbank@chelsea.arts.ac.uk for more information.

Continuing the glitz in roaring 1920s style is Kent House Knightsbridge, a glamorous townhouse bordering Hyde Park. Imagine you’re Downton Abbey’s Lady Rosamund Painswick as you sip exquisite cocktails and nibble on British-themed canapés at the piano bar in the Marble Hall, before you climb the majestic Grand Staircase to the Sanctuary, beautifully lit by the flickering hues of candelabra dressing the long-table banquet.

After supper, let your kiss curls bounce to the sounds of a top class DJ as the party continues in the bar and lounge. Prices start from £125pp, with capacity for 300 standing. To enquire call 020 7591 3838 or email events@kenthouseknightsbridge.org.

Over at the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS), the Downton Abbey theme continues within the surrounds of this leading surgical institution. Dine by candle light with an elegant three-course luncheon or supper featuring traditional Christmas fare.

Locations range from the stunning oak panelled Edward Lumley Dining Hall to the prestigious Council Chamber, where visitors are watched over by magnificent oil canvases, including a portrait by Reynolds of the distinguished surgical anatomist John Hunter. Suitable for groups of 10 to 250, prices start at £65 per person. Contact Christmas events planner Charlotte Edwards on 020 7869 6714 or email cedwards@rcseng.ac.uk.

Jive your way 1940s style into the secret wartime bunker that sheltered Sir Winston Churchill and his government during the Blitz and explore the underground maze of rooms at Churchill War Rooms that once buzzed with round-the-clock planning and plotting, strategies and secrets. Indulge in a sumptuous festive dinner, washed down with Pol Roger Champagne, Churchill’s favourite tipple, before swinging the night away to the nostalgic big band and scat jazz sounds of resident 1940s style four-piece band The Sweethearts.

Book places on a shared party night and enjoy a free round of drinks, or book and pay a deposit on your own exclusive event before 31 August and receive an exclusive Churchill Christmas Hamper. To discuss Christmas at Churchill War Rooms, call 020 3116 4469 or email cwr@sodexo.com.

More Christmas party venue options:

VIP gigs and the edible Sugar Palace

Your own private members club

Lights, camera, exhibition!

A classic Christmas knees-up

Christmas with a conscience

Roasted chestnuts, mulled wine and carols

Intimate, private dining celebrations

Work hard, play hard

St Martin’s welcomes sunshine with launch of Café in the Courtyard

This May, St Martin-in-the-Fields is launching Café in the Courtyard, just behind the church. Open from late morning until sunset, Café in the Courtyard caters to both the local work force passing through for a quick coffee and the lunchtime picnicker hoping to catch a few rays of sunshine. In the evening, visitors can enjoy a drink and spot of dinner while catching up with friends and watching the world go by.

The inside will be open as usual, serving great food in the award-winning Café in the Crypt and hosting events from local and international clients. Whether it is a sizzling summer we see, or a bit of a washout, St Martin-in-the-Fields has a solution for both.

For more details on how to book your event at St Martin-in-the-Fields please click here to view the venue’s full profile and to enquire using our simple form.

Bowl food: love it or hate it?

By David Wilkinson, Head Chef, One Great George Street

Bowl food is hardly the new kid on the block at One Great George Street as far as food innovation is concerned, so why have we never featured it on our menus before? The reason it hasn’t made its way onto the menus in the past is because personally, I didn’t really know how I felt about it as function food.

 

What did I think I hated about bowl food?

1) Definitely concerns over practicality. What do you do with your glass while you are eating, as you need two hands to do so?

2) What happens to the empties in a busy room?

3) Do we want to invest in the equipment and where do we then store it?

4) Will we always have enough service space?

5) Will it be a 2-minute fad that would fade away?

 

What do I now love about bowl food?

1) Our sales team has been telling me that it is a constant request, proved true by our catering figures and how busy my team are.

2) It’s a creative chef’s dream because of the huge potential in pure food terms – create small and tasty dishes with very few restrictions.

3) It’s perfect for networking events – we’re a popular venue for this style of event.

4) You can try a little bit of this and little bit of that.

5) It’s cost effective if you are on a tight budget in these difficult times and don’t want to splash out on 7-course fine dining meals, as impressive as they might be.

So this year I finally put my ambivalence to one side and with the aid of my two senior chefs, Joanne Dingwall and Charlene Basan, created a brand new menu using the bowl food concept.

Now that it’s done, I can’t remember why I made such a song and dance about it, and I have gone from being lukewarm to super excited about the whole concept.

We have already held several tastings and the feedback from clients has been fantastic.

 

The most popular dishes are proving to be:

1) ‘Thai green curry with sticky rice’

2) ‘Salt and pepper squid with Asian slaw’

3) ‘Crab, watermelon, cucumber, mango, ginger and dill salad’

4) ‘Chocolate brownies with white chocolate sauce’

 

Are you a bowl food fan?

www.onegreatgeorgestreet.com

Catering: Make it memorable for the right reasons

By Jonathan Morris, Commercial Director, No.11 Cavendish Square

Food is a talking point of events, whether it’s a reception with canapés, a gala dinner with three courses, a party with bowl food, or an all-day conference with breakfast and lunch. Catering can really make or break an event; poor catering performance is a significant reason for dissatisfaction with an event.

If the catering isn’t delivered well, it not only reflects badly on the services of the caterer, but the venue too.  Guests will often associate the ‘bad food’ food experience they had at an event, with the venue and are likely to share their experience with others, which can be very damaging for the venue’s reputation.

As a venue that specialises in weddings at the weekends, we look at offering a diverse selection of menus at No.11 Cavendish Square.  Working closely with our in-house caterers Ampersand, we produce innovative and tantalising menus that are an extension of the No.11 brand. The objective is to continually raise the stakes and offer our clients refreshing alternatives to customary solutions. It is important to be contemporary without alienating clients. There needs to be a balance of fun, creative flair and palatable options suitable for the majority.

This year the emphasis is on affordable luxury at No.11 Cavendish Square. With the economy still unstable, organisers are budget conscious and want value for money. We have collaborated with our in-house caterers to produce menus that feature the latest food trends found at top restaurants. These include themed tasting dishes and shared plates which can be served as an alternative to starters, mains and desserts.

Live food bars are another option; they add a sense of theatre to events as guests can watch dishes being prepared with flare in front of them. Ask chefs to flambé, carve meat off the bone, fillet fish and shuck oysters.  Guests get delicious contemporary dishes served beautifully, without the hefty price tag.

To make an event memorable for all the right reasons, venues need to have a solid working partnership with caterers. Regularly review the latest restaurant trends, look at different serving options and host regular tasting and menu brainstorming sessions. This ensures that both parties are working to the same goal and keeping menus fresh for organisers.

www.11cavendishsq.com

Food for thought…

By Kate Meehan, operations director, 76 Portland Place

Seasonal produce is something which is often talked about and seen to be promoted but isn’t all that often upheld. Is it really important or is it just another one of these fashionable things to be seen to be doing?

76 Portland Place advocates the promotion of seasonal and sustainable produce and outlines a number of reasons why it is something you should consider when booking a venue for an event.

Food and drink is incredibly important to clients today when booking an event, from the taste, to the look and where it has come from. With growing concern over food miles, genetic modification of so much of our produce, and the increasing desire to help British farmers keep hold of their livelihood, it is something well worth considering when booking an event.

Here are some top reasons to make sure that the food on offer at your venue of choice is seasonal and locally produced.

  • Clients who have in-depth corporate social responsibility policies will want to know that the food they will consume at meetings is seasonal and British wherever possible. The less distance the food has travelled, the less food co2 will have been emitted therefore making it more sustainable and better for the environment
  • Food is fresher and healthier. The less processed food is, the better it is for you, packed full of vitamins and usually far tastier too. If food is fresh and hasn’t had to travel too far there isn’t the need for the amount of preservatives that are so often found in food and drink and fruit and vegetables have a chance to ripen before they get picked which improves the flavor without a doubt.
  • Today, people are far more aware of the decline of British agriculture and the importance to try and sustain this where possible. British produce is appreciated more now than ever before and people want to help local farmers where they can rather than relying on food that is distributed by large manufacturing companies.
  • Believe it or not seasonal produce as well as being tastier and healthier, is often cheaper than buying in produce from overseas[1]. Shipping costs continue to rise astronomically as the price of fuel increases and there is also the additional cost of preserving the food.

So there you go, some food for thought – next time you’re booking an event why not ask about the catering and see what is on offer? Whether your client is concerned about corporate social responsibility, their health or just tasty, fresh food – they will be delighted you are one step ahead and already thinking about the finer detail.

[1]http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-12351193

www.76portlandplace.com

Unusual Catering

By HQS Wellington


Sometimes you’ve just got to think big.  Generating the wow-factor with some unusual catering options can be just the boost an event needs.  Below you’ll find some top tips and some truly spectacular ideas for unusual catering and how to blow your guests away with extraordinary catering:

 

1) Sounds very obvious but let’s start with the basics – get planning!  How many people are you expecting and what are their expectations?  Once established, brainstorm – what can you do to really get them excited and what will be truly different?

 

2) Some of the best ideas work hand-in-hand with the venue – is there a stunning rooftop which could act as the perfect backdrop or a glamorous ballroom for a truly outstanding champagne reception?

 

When it comes to the food – our advice is to talk early on in the process to the chef. They are the experts and will love nothing more than a chance to do something a bit unusual.  Themed canapés, dishes and desserts are a sure fire hit – if it fits the atmosphere what about having dishes named after each of the evening’s key players?  Perhaps a tailored cocktail named after a new product/ honoured guest/the company etc?  If you’ve got the budget and it’s the right time of year try something spectacular – perhaps a full hog roast buffet or hitting on the current trend for all things eco, go for a totally meat-free evening, with all produce sourced sustainably.

 

3) All-in-all aim for impact and keep things relevant.  That’s why step one is so important.  It’s no good getting that 7ft company-themed blancmange if you know the event is to celebrate the company’s brand new, dairy-free range!

 

And finally, take comfort that as your event cheerfully goes off with a bang, whatever feat you manage to pull off this year, your successor’s got to try and better it!

www.thewellingtontrust.com

Menu Planning

By 28 Portland Place

Whether it’s trays laden with luxurious canapés, plates of sumptuous sandwiches or three-course gourmet meal, the secret to a standout event is truly mouthwatering food. Good ingredients and expert preparation are an important part of this, but knowledgeable menu planning is the real key to success. Below you’ll find some top tips to make sure your menu’s are the talk of the evening.

Personal

It goes without saying – every event is different and it is worth considering some personal touches to really help draw everything together. If you’re organising an event for a notorious chocoholic, you could work a subtle cocoa theme through the courses whereas someone with a spicier penchant would appreciate a menu that is hot hot hot!

Seasonal

As the old saying goes ‘don’t eat hot broth in summer’. Ok, we made that up, but just like your wardrobe, your menu should change with the seasons and a good chef will be able to steer you through this process with an expert eye. Make sure the chef uses fresh, seasonal ingredients that will complement the time of year and leave your guests delightfully satisfied.

Sustainable

The buzzword of the moment – seriously, even the banks are getting in on it with something called ‘green banking’ – you need to get serious about your event’s carbon footprint and your chef can help by sourcing local produce from sustainable suppliers. The benefit of this for your event is clear – fabulously fresh food and some media-friendly stats to top it off.

Those are three fairly solid starting points – providing you don’t stray too far you won’t go too wrong! The real key is to sit down with an expert chef and spend some time working out what’s best for your event and plan accordingly. When you factor in all the other key ingredients (see what we did there!) you’re sure to have an event to remember.

www.28portlandplace.co.uk