Great Britain -- made up of England, Scotland and Wales -- is a perennial favorite destination for U.S. planners. The rich offerings for meetings, incentives and conventions range from historic palaces (some more than 500 years old) to sleek, modern exhibition venues. Following is a roundup of developments and lesser-known meeting spaces in the capital, London, and elsewhere on the isle.
New and Renovated Meetings Venues in England
London Hotel Update
The British capital will add more than 2,000 upscale hotel rooms to its inventory in the next 12 months. This sampling showcases the latest and most-anticipated debuts.
Recently opened, the Dixon hotel, which once served as the Tower Bridge Magistrates Court, is part of Marriott's independent Autograph Collection. The property has 193 guest rooms and a restaurant; all feature an eclectic design aesthetic and boutique vibe perfect for informal networking opportunities.
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London
The 181-room Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London, reopened this year following an extensive renovation. The project included:
- Revamps of all guest rooms
- Addition of two penthouse suites
- Upgrades to the spa (overseen by noted designer Adam D. Tihany), which offers 13 individual treatment rooms, an Oriental Suite with two massage beds and a Rasul water temple
- 24-carat gilding throughout the hotel's ballroom and loggia, two of the eight in-house meeting spaces
The Hard Rock Hotel London
A property with a very different feel opened its doors this spring. The Hard Rock Hotel London sits on the corner of Oxford Street and Park Lane, one of the city's most iconic locations. The 900-room hotel features exclusive suites for rock royalty, along with two vibrant bars and the brand's signature Hard Rock Café.
The Stratford Hotel and Lofts
The Stratford Hotel and Lofts will open this year in the heart of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The 145-room luxury property will have a host of amenities, including:
- Several restaurants and bars
- A communal sky garden
- A 24-hour gym
- A wealth of culture at its doorstep for delegates to enjoy
The Standard, London
With 266 guest rooms, the Standard, London, will feature multiple destination restaurants run by critically acclaimed chefs Peter Sanchez-Iglesias and Adam Rawson. The hip property -- the first Standard hotel outside the U.S. - will open later this year
Millennium Hotel London Mayfair
The 308-room Millennium Hotel London Mayfair is scheduled to be rebranded under the new Hilton brand LXR Hotels & Resorts. The changes celebrate a major refurbishment and a new name -- The Biltmore, Mayfair. The luxury property will feature a 5,400-square-foot ballroom, an alfresco terrace, a cocktail bar and a fitness suite. The planned reopening is set for August
Edwardian Hotels London's first purpose-built property, the 350-room Londoner, is readying for a spring 2020 debut. The Leicester Square hotel will have a variety of leisure facilities, two Odeon cinemas, a spa and a ballroom spacious enough to accommodate up to 1,000 guests
The Kimpton Fitzroy London
The Kimpton Fitzroy London debuted in late 2018 in the city's colorful Bloomsbury neighborhood. The 334-room hotel has been carved out of a historical building that was completed in 1898. Among the amenities are four bars and restaurants, a fitness center and more than 9,000 square feet of meeting space, including a ballroom for up to 400 guests.
London Conference Spaces
ExCel London is the largest convention center in the capital with more than 1 million square feet of exhibit space. Great Britain's largest auditorium, accommodating up to 5,000 delegates, is part of the venue, as is a stunning multifunction conference suite with separate reception and registration areas, able to host up to 2,500 people.
Barbican, a not-for-profit arts and events venue, is situated in the heart of the city. The center offers 10 unique event spaces, the largest of which, Barbican Hall, can host up to 1,950 attendees.
Business Design Centre
Strategically located in Islington, the Business Design Centre features approximately 66,000 square feet of exhibit space. Access to and from the venue is easy through the Angel underground station or Kings Cross St. Pancras station, each just a few minutes' walk away
Church House Westminster
Church House Westminster, set within stately Dean's Yard with views overlooking Westminster Abbey, has 19 versatile event spaces. The largest of these -- the domed-shaped Assembly Hall -- accommodates up to 664 guests for meetings and 372 for meals. The historic 2,400-square-foot Hoare Memorial Hall hosted the House of Commons during World War II.
Central Hall Westminster
Across from Westminster Abbey and dating from the Edwardian era, the opulent Central Hall Westminster offers 25 meeting rooms and spaces that can handle events ranging from intimate functions of up to 60 people to splashy occasions for 500. In all, the venue can accommodate up to 2,400 guests.
Meeting Venues in Blackpool and Beyond
The coastal resort town of Blackpool is transforming itself into a modern meetings destination. A major development is the Blackpool Conference & Exhibition Centre -- debuting in 2021 -- that will accommodate up to 2,000 delegates. The facility will be part of Blackpool's Winter Gardens, which also includes the Empress Ballroom, the Spanish Hall, the Opera House Theatre and the Olympia Exhibition Hall. With the addition of the new conference center, the Winter Gardens will become a hub of 12 distinct venues under one roof, offering 4.9 acres of connected conference, meeting, event and exhibition space.
Hampton Court Palace, best known as Henry VIII's royal seat, has been hosting all manner of gatherings since 1514. The medieval Great Hall, one of the most spectacular event spaces in Great Britain, can accommodate seated dinners for up to 270 people. The palace has six additional gorgeous spaces that work for meals and receptions, as well as magnificent grounds that welcome outdoor events for up to 3,500 people.
Scotland Event Updates
New and Renovated Venues in Aberdeen
The Event Complex Aberdeen, known as TECA, will debut this summer in the northern Scotland city. The facility, near Aberdeen International Airport, replaces the Aberdeen Exhibition Conference and Centre.
The TECA complex's main arena will host conferences, exhibitions and music concerts for up to 12,500 attendees. Also in the blueprint are three additional exhibition halls, four multipurpose conference rooms and 15 meeting rooms.
Three TECA Hotels
Three hotels are coming online, as well:
- The adjoining 200-room Hilton Aberdeen TECA
- The 150-room Aloft Aberdeen TECA
- A 150-room property that had not yet been given a name at press time.
All sections of TECA will be powered by local, renewable energy sources.
The city's newest hotel, the first property in Scotland for Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, is the Kimpton Charlotte Square Hotel, in Edinburgh's New Town neighborhood, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its Georgian architecture. The 184-room Kimpton Charlotte Square comprises seven interconnecting Georgian townhouses with views of Edinburgh Castle. The rebranded property, formerly the Principal Charlotte Square, also offers two restaurants, a refurbished gym, a spa and more than 7,000 square feet of meeting space.
Glasgow's Latest Meeting and Event Spaces
A second Kimpton property, the 113-room Kimpton Blytheswood Square Hotel, opened last month in Glasgow. Among its amenities are the restaurant Bo & Birdy, which serves Scottish classics made with local ingredients; the Salon, a space where guests can enjoy afternoon tea or an evening whisky with views of Blythswood Square gardens; a roof garden, and a spa with nine treatment rooms. The property's Monte Carlo Suite hosts 120 people theater-style and can be divided into three breakout rooms.
Latest Meetings Offerings in Wales
Opening next year, the International Convention Center Wales will accommodate up to 5,000 delegates using its 46,000-square-foot pillar-free main hall, 1,500-seat auditorium, 12 meeting rooms and double-height glass atrium with views of the surrounding Coldra Woods. The conference center also will feature a 26,000-square-foot outdoor plaza. Read more about the facility at bit.ly/SMCenters.