More than 12,000 hotel rooms have been added since the Olympic Games, and more then 50% of those are independent according to Chris Lynn, vp of sales/marketing NA at London & Partners. In addition, all of the new high-tech infrastructure and sustainability R&D, he says, is turning London into the “Silicon Valley of the world.”
“So planners have a great amount of variety and flexibility when choosing to hold an event in London,” says Lynn. “And because of all the new development, planners should contact us to understand their options and source the best rates.”
Two of those new options are two of the coolest new hotels in the world right now….
“Your ears are going to pop,” says the dulcet-toned gal about midway up The View from The Shard, the new observation deck of the tallest building in Western Europe. Celeb architect Renzo Piano designed The Shard in homage to London’s church spires and ship masts, and the slender 1,016-ft skyscraper features 600,000-sf of glass panels tapering to an off-kilter pyramid.
“The Shard is a contemporary work of art that has redefined the skyline of London in a few short months,” says Carl Walsh, director of business tourism, NA at VisitBritain. “With 360 degree views of the city, The View from The Shard is already a must-see for business travelers who want to experience the sights and sounds of modern London.”
Up top, there are 12 high-tech, interactive “Tell:scopes” to explore the 40-mile view, including Parliament and Wimbledon.
“Visitors absolutely love the multi-sensory experience of the telescopes, telling 200 stories of the city in whatever direction you look,” says Barbara Jamison, head of business development at London & Partners.
This summer the gorgeous “vertical city” welcomes the Shangri-La Hotel at the Shard. The 202-room property on floors 32-52 will have three sumptuous group venues.
“Each meeting room (up to 1,660 sf) faces the Thames and gets natural light,” says Fiona Stillborn, director of sales for the hotel. “Planners adore the panoramic views from every single guest room, making room assignments an easier task.”
In the West End, the new 157-room ME London opened in January. Foster+Partners is one the top five architecture firms globally, however this is the first time the group has also conceptualized the entire interior design. The results are rather impressive. The pyramid-shaped lobby atrium soars upward with black marble corridors leading to the rooms. In the public spaces, black and bone leather seating is mixed with stainless steel and ebony walls. Very sleek, very sexy and very Bond-like, yet somehow really comfortable too.
“The design is something you will not find in London and possibly not many places in the world,” says GM Fabio Gallo. “But it’s not just about having a slick design and exciting outlets and DJs. It’s about being truly connected with local culture. London, particularly this area, is going through an incredible revival as we speak.”
The F&B outlets are interesting, including two brands out of New York: STK steak and Cucina Asellina, which does nice artisanal Italian. The wow spaces are the Radio Bar on the roof—the hottest party pad in town—and the Suite ME presidential/hospitality suite with 360° views of London.
“We’ve had events where corporations bought out the Radio Bar for 220 people,” says Gallo. “We’ve come up with a pretty remarkable product; the ME brand is very in tune with urban culture.” Meeting space is 5,500 sf.
Event Planner options for International Meetings in London: