Business travel is set for growth in 2017; and while that could mean jetting off, it will probably also see you welcoming business visitors to the capital. Hosting partners and prospects can be a tricky business. It’s the easiest thing in the world to go back to the same old tried-and-tested bars and restaurants for business lunches and drinks. But it can get boring for both you and your clients. And sometimes it pays to offer them something a bit different. But where to start?
Well, we’ve put together a list of the best spots across the capital for every occasion and every type of client – from the London institution to the craft beer hotspot. So whether you need a quiet corner to close a deal or somewhere for a proper knees-up, here are the top places in London where you can really make entertaining entertaining.
With a modern take on Eastern European gastronomy and vodka cocktails, Baltic near Waterloo makes a reassuringly classy yet informal venue for drinks, dinner or a business lunch. Or for a relaxed vibe, go for something a little different and try Thai BBQ restaurant Smoking Goat for an informal meat-centric meal. In Denmark Street, it’s also a handy location for after-dinner drinks with Soho’s bars just a few minutes’ walk away.
And if you want to go off-piste, you could take your guests to a show at any of London’s world-renowned comedy clubs and shows. Just don’t sit near the front.
The Greenhouse in Mayfair provides a sophisticated setting for a quiet lunch or dinner. With a tranquil setting, this well-established French restaurant is also sure to impress guests with two-Michelin-starred haute cuisine. In the same area, Corrigan’s Mayfair is similarly elegant and offers private dining options for a quiet setting.
The Craft Beer Co. does what it says on the tin and has pubs across town serving a massive range of superb keg and cask beers, as well as hundreds of bottles. Central branches are in Clerkenwell and Covent Garden, while the Limehouse pub is next to the DLR just a few stops directly from London City Airport. Mother Kelly’s is a less obvious choice in East London, but sitting next to Bethnal Green tube it’s just five minutes from the heart of the City. And with around 20 keg beers at one time from local breweries such as Redchurch to connoisseur’s choices like Estonia’s Põhjala, the selection is hard to beat.
Of course there is that occasional business partner who’s somehow never been to London before. It would be a shame to let them leave without at least one authentic London experience, and you can go a few different ways. We’ve got a range of packages for London’s major attractions if you fancy playing the tourist along with your guests.
Then for a traditional London dining experience with all the historical trimmings you can’t beat Simpson’s Tavern, the self-proclaimed oldest chophouse in London (and not to be confused with the unrelated Simpson’s-in-the-Strand). Or for drinks there’s the classic London boozer – and they don’t come more classic than Fleet Street’s Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. Yes, it’s a well-known one, but justifiably so – and its sprawling interior means you’ve a better chance of finding some space than elsewhere in the crowded Square Mile.
If straightforward drinks and dinner aren’t going to cut it then you could go for one of the old safe options – football’s always a good fall-back, but if you don’t have a company box then consider something a bit different. Urban Golf is well geared-up for corporate entertainment and has golf simulators in Smithfield and Soho. Or if you know your clients well and you’re a fun-loving bunch then Bounce combines ping pong, beer and pizza and makes for a lot of laughs.
If you really want to show your prospects a good time in London then don’t forget the city’s incredibly diverse music scene. Ronnie Scott’s is a jazz institution that anyone with an interest in music will appreciate, and Ain’t Nothin But in Soho has live blues every night of the week and makes a great alternative to the usual drinks and small talk.
Sometimes it really is all about the deal. If you’re looking for somewhere to talk serious business that sets the scene for closing, then you need good food, excellent service that won’t get in the way and a suitable setting. Westminster’s prestigious Cinnamon Club ticks all the boxes and serves extraordinarily good modern Indian cooking, overseen by executive chef Vivek Singh. If you’re keen to impress then an institution like the Wolseley gives you a stylish setting that’s not trying too hard.
There are some clients who strike fear into even the most iron-livered host. It can be a challenge finding somewhere to suit that guest who never knows when the night’s over. Black Rock in Shoreditch is a stone’s throw from the City and does whisky like nowhere else in London and makes a great end to the night. A little further north, the Nightjar serves up exceptional cocktails in an old-school speakeasy ambience with live jazz.
OK, so maybe we were a little harsh on the good ol’ steak dinner. Sometimes it’s what you and your guests want. Just make sure you go for the best. Hawksmoor is now the name in red meat in London. With a genuine focus on outstanding quality steak and properly crafted cocktails, the chain has restaurants all over central, with the Spitalfields location well placed for entertaining from the City. It also has an atmospheric cellar bar that’s good for a few laidback drinks.
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