Louisa Walters goes in search of venues to fulfil your every simcha desire and discovers a glittering array of possibilities…
If you want somewhere for your fun event where no-one will ever have been – then choose somewhere brand new. North London’s latest place to be, the Meridian Grand, opens in September, so it’s unlikely anyone you know will have set foot in the luxury banqueting, conference and events venue just off the North Circular near Chingford, a 20min drive from Brent Cross.
It has two luxurious pillarless ballrooms, the Grand, which can seat 700, and the Meridian, which can seat 370 capacity. The two rooms can also be opened up to create one huge space for up to 1,200 guests. The Meridian Grand also boasts several smaller suites that can be used for receptions and smaller parties and all suites have state-of-the-art audio-visual facilities and LED mood lighting that can be customised to a client’s colour scheme. There is on-site parking for up to 300 cars, flexible dance floors and staging and a separate kosher kitchen, while the open balcony at the front of the building is ideal for a chuppah.
Quirky places that are not ‘the norm’ include the Saatchi Gallery – a fab minimalist contemporary space on the Kings’ Road in Chelsea and, also flying the flag for the royal borough, the V & A Museum of Childhood with stunning Victorian ironwork and room to seat 300. For a small, sophisticated and intimate boutique-style wedding you can hire the beautiful Clissold House in Stoke Newington, although you’ll have to limit your guest list to 80.
Closer to north London and infinitely more traditional, the Hendon Hall Hotel (yes, it’s in Hendon!) can seat 220 for a dinner-dance in the Pembroke Suite. Choose from in-house catering – the hotel has two AA rosettes so standards are high – or bring in the chosen kosher caterer, Michael Rose. The England football team stayed here the night before their famous win against Germany in the 1966 World Cup, so this is definitely a ‘good omen’ place! Every couple marrying here receive an olive tree to take home. Onsite parking is an added bonus.
The Village Hotel in Elstree has a highly-popular contemporary banqueting suite that holds 180 people. The venue has garnered a reputation for being the place to hold a fun party and it always has a great atmosphere. Plenty of parking and lots of different packages mean that all needs are catered to.
Keeping it local but for something a bit different, Allianz Park Stadium in Mill Hill boasts 26 acres of green-belt land that sets the scene for a stunning outdoor chuppah.
The varied range of rooms includes the Olympic Bar, which features the original warm-up track from the 2012 Olympics, and the sophisticated Tulip Club, which has great views of the pitch. The venue has its own dance floor, staging and lounge furniture as well as a state-of-the art sound system.
You’ve probably driven past Cavendish Banqueting on the Edgware Road, opposite the Mercedes showroom, hundreds of times without registering it as a possible venue for your simcha. Behind the simple façade is a fabulous, spacious banqueting suite with room to seat up to 450 people and loads of set-up options for all types of event. The unfussy design allows you to transform the space into whatever look you would like for your event, plus it has a removable dancefloor and a portable stage facility. Best of all, it’s local and easy to park here.
For a convenient north-west London location with a large car park, competitive rates, a beautiful shul and banqueting venue on the same site, Yavneh College ticks all the boxes. You would never know it’s a school dining room once it is set up and decorated, and many who have been to an event here have commented on how fabulous they have found it.
As far back as anyone can remember, Camden has been a hangout for teenagers, making it the ideal location for a bar- or batmitzvah. You don’t have to punk it up in the market, though – the Holiday Inn is a modern venue right in the heart of the village. The main event space, Glasshouse on the Lock, splits across three levels and has floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking Regent’s Canal, bringing the vibe of the location right into your simcha. Maximum seating capacity is 220 and as an added enticement there is an outdoor terrace for drinks and photos on sunny days.
Holding a chuppah and a party on the same site is becoming more and more popular for weddings, and St John’s Wood Shul enables you to do this in a magnificent setting. The dark-wood panelled Moritz Gertler Hall has full air-conditioning with special lighting, a concealed stage and terrific audio facilities. All London Beth Din-approved kosher caterers are welcome and the brides’ room has recently been refurbished to create a calm and beautiful space for preparing for that special day.
Even further into town, Under The Bridge is a new and funky music venue that presents an unusual experience that is perfect for a barmitzvah. Located at Chelsea Football Club’s Stamford Bridge stadium, and with all lighting and production equipment provided, Under The Bridge offers a great range of styles for any event – you don’t need to be a Chelsea supporter to appreciate it! It can cope with a maximum capacity of 140 for a dinner dance.
If the city is your natural habitat and brings out the patriotic fervour, then 116 Pall Mall is the spot. Settle on this site and you can brag about the fact your venue was the backdrop for the Batman film Dark Knight, while the famous Nash Room featured in Gandhi.
It is possible to have exclusive use of the whole building which is a rarity in central London, but there are eight room with capacities of up to 400. You’ll be drooling over the columned entrance and a photograph taken in front of them is one for posterity.
If you’re more West End girls than East End boys, check out the Westminster Ballroom at the London Marriott Grosvenor Square. Not only is it tailor-made for a function, it is one of the largest pillar-free ballrooms in London, so no one can complain about a restricted view! Removable dance floor, staging and a platform for the top table are all onsite and the hotel has connections with many kosher caterers.
If you want to start or finish your simcha in serious style, go by bus! No, not that type of bus… the Vault London is a luxurious members’ club that just happens to be inside a converted double-decker. Its traditional London omnibus exterior masks the kind of opulent interior more commonly found on luxury yachts and private jets. There is room for 60 on board, and with a fully-stocked bar and your own private DJ , you can get the party started before you even arrive! The Vault also offers an attractive option for a hen or stag night, special birthday or corporate entertainment.
So you’ve now found your venue! But if you need help sorting your caterer, Loraine Young and her team at the United Synagogue have years of experience finding the right KLBD caterer to meet your needs.
The company has a list of more than 50 licensed supplers to choose from, encompassing all budgets and styles. This service is free, and also includes helpful suggestions to make things easier for you in planning all those details that make a great simcha.