Christmas party venues in London
Whether you're hosting an office Christmas party or getting some friends together, here are our tips on the best and quirkiest venues in London
Mon Sep 30 2013
Photo: Dan Cunningham
Finding a venue is the first big step in organising a party, but it can be a logistical nightmare at the best of times – and even more so when it comes to Christmas time in London. Don’t stress, though: here to help is our handy list of some of London’s most memorable, unknown and unusual venues, to sort a wide range of budgets and capacity requirements.
Perfect places for your office Christmas party
This duck-egg blue, nineteenth-century former Welsh Presbyterian chapel may look odd next to a west London housing estate, but once inside it’s delightful, with a wood-panelled gallery, complete with its own pipe organ. It’s a dramatic setting for a sit-down wedding meal or buffet, and also one that can be dressed up and themed – Caribbean, gothic and sci-fi have all been done here. You can also hire the Lower Hall – the former church crypt has a low ceiling and solid soundproofing, so live bands sound amazing here. The Centre regularly hosts conferences, concerts, parties, seminars, rehearsals and anything else that needs plenty of space.
The Upper Hall has a capacity of 250 standing or 180 seated, while the Lower Hall holds 100 or 60-80. Contact email@example.com or 0207 286 1686.
- 50 Shirland Rd, W9 2JA
This slick little bar at the unfashionable end of Brick Lane hosts club nights, live acoustic music, comedy, film screenings and variety events. Serving wine, beer and cocktails plus food, it's also available for private hire.
Four spaces are available to hire: the whole venue (capacity 160), the lounge bar (90-100), the basement (80) and the beer garden (40). Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 0207 247 7717.
- 26 Osborn St, E1 6TD
Located roughly around half way between The O2 and the Thames Barrier, Greenwich Yacht Club stands above the river on stilts. The largely glass building is large enough to cater for all kinds of meetings and dinners and even has its own moorings, what with it being a yacht club and all.
Four spaces are available to hire: The River Rooms (capacity 250), The Clubhouse (150), The Committee Room (30) and the Boat Yard with a marquee provided (500). Contact email@example.com or 020 7952 2410.
- Peartree Wharf, 1 Peartree Way, SE10 0BW
Split over two floors, Life is a bit of an 'all-under-one-roof' kind of place, with a restaurant on the ground floor and a bar in the basement. You can have a Japanese dinner here, grab a drink (plenty of Japanese liquers – sake, sochu, plum wine) or bust a move. The motto of Life, is 'enjoy life'.
Life has a capacity of 250. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 0208 767 0278.
- 2-4 Old St, EC1V 9AA
The people, vessels, trade and wildlife of the capital’s canals are explored in the London Canal Museum. The museum is housed in a former nineteenth-century ice warehouse, used by Carlo Gatti for his ice cream, and includes an exhibit on the little-known trade in ice imported from Norway and once stored in two huge wells beneath the museum. This is perhaps the most interesting part of the London Canal Museum; the collection looking at the history of the waterways and those who worked in them is rather sparse by comparison. The canalside walk from here to Camden Town is most enjoyable too.
The museum's event space has a capacity of 200 and is available for hire until 11pm, or until 1am on Fri, Sat, or bank holiday Sun. A smaller space with a capacity of 20 is also available. Contact email@example.com.
- 12-13 New Wharf Rd, N1 9RT
Paradise makes decorative use of its name, taken from GK Chesterton’s poem ‘The Rolling English Road’, by filling its high-ceilinged interior with religious icons, angels, cherubs and flowery chandeliers, even extending the effect to two huge stone vases of flowers on the bar counter. When you reach it, you’ll find prices to be more than reasonable for the quality of mixing (very good) and service (ditto). Beers include Guinness, plus standard lagers at standard prices; there are also plenty of wines. With its banquet-sized dining hall, courtyard garden and roof terrace, Paradise does a roaring trade in private dining, and bar snacks here are a notch above the norm: Poole harbour rock oysters and shallot dressing, for instance. The rest of the time the Paradise, whilst frequented by more DJs than you can throw a bootleg at, and with the odd band and comedy event, is more friendly boozer and restaurant than DJ bar.
Paradise is available to hire, with a capacity of 150 standing or 50 seating. Contact 0208 969 0098.
- 19 Kilburn Lane, W10 4AE
This performance and gallery space based in Bethnal Green likes to lean toward the avant-garde, with events and shows covering a range of subjects from cabaret and fetish to lucha libre and art. All you need is a subversive attitude.
Resistance Gallery has a capacity of 200. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 265 Poyser St, E2 9RF
Tucked away down a residential street, Simon Drake's House of Magic lies in wait. It looks like a disused pub, and it is in a sense, but inside, it's a veritable lair of magic. Simon Drake – star of Channel 4's 'The Secret Cabaret' – has decked the place out in red velvet curtains, mismatched wallpaper and mood lighting. Creepy props sit among decadent furnishings, where you can sit and get your fortune told, try out the 'whispering chair' and tour the Haunted Cellar, as well as, of course, witnessing Drake's 45-minute 'Magical Extravaganza'.
The House of Magic has a capacity of 150. Contact email@example.com or 0207 735 4777.
- SE17 3WW
A beautiful 1930s green and yellow Dutch barge moored between Lambeth and Vauxhall bridge. It's a modest space – only room for 150 max – and most of the time their events are free, so entrance is on a first-come-first-served basis. Visitors here can enjoy a social drink, a gig or hire it out for a personal party.
With a capacity of 150 (including 80 on deck), the Tamesis costs between free and £100 Mon-Thu, with a minimum spend applicable, or £195 Fri and Sat (minimum 80 people). Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 0207 582 1066.
- Albert Embankment, SE1 7TP
A striking art deco building from the outside that doesn't let up once you're on the inside either – even the carpet has an art deco fan pattern running through it. This a stunning place to get married in (and many people do), but it's also just a fantastic, Grade II listed building that is used constantly for live music and sporting events, as well as parties.
The Grand Hall ground floor has a capacity of 2000 (standing), 1240 (theatre seating) or 800 (table seating). The Circle has a capacity of 669 (theatre seating) or 192 (table seating). The White Room has a capacity of 150. Contact email@example.com or 0207 790 9000.
- 490 Commercial Rd, E1 0HX
Walking down Graces Alley towards Wilton's Music Hall is a bit like stepping into another world – or rather back in time to the mid-19th century, when John Wilton opened his concert hall behind the Mahogany Bar pub. Thanks in part to the Methodist Church and John Betjeman, this lovely old building has survived the intervening century and a half more or less intact.
The exterior – cobbled together from five Victorian house fronts – is chicly shabby, with peeling paint in mismatched colours, and long-extinguished gas lamps hanging along the walls beside flower baskets (brimming in the summer). Step inside, and you'll find the bar, entrance hall and side-room known as the 'Study' are very much in the same condition: apart from the exposed brickwork (originally covered by plaster), there's not much here that would have been out of place in Wilton's day.
The gem here is the hall itself: church-like, with a high ceiling, a gallery on three sides and a proscenium arch stage on the fourth. It's been recently refurbished and strengthened thanks to a long-running fundraising campaign, and now has modern lighting, heating and ventilation, but most of the period features are still in place, albeit faded: the 'barley sugar' cast iron pillars, the sloping wooden floor, the carved balcony and the classical arches around the upper walls. One of the world's oldest surviving music halls and an architectural gem, it remains a choice hang-out for the post-work crowd and regularly hosts theatre, concerts and variety acts.
Wilton's Music Hall has various rooms for hire. The main Auditorium has a capacity of 400, is available 10am-10pm (subject to availability) with a three-hour minimum hire, and costs £250 per hour plus a £500 deposit. Other spaces include the Study, the Green Room, the Library, the Cocktail Bar and the Mezzanine, each with a capacity of about £30 and hourly hire rates of £100-£250 – these are generally available until 11pm. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 1-4 Graces Alley, off Ensign St, E1 8JB
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