Will's Week

“Eventhouses” – Entertaining on top of the world!

“Eventhouses” – Entertaining on top of the world!

The Penthouse at 9 Eaton Square, Belgravia, was my not-so-shabby digs during school exeats. On one side we had Roger Moore and on the other, my bedroom overlooked Lord Lloyd Webber’s high-level conservatory, complete with customary white grand piano. I like to think we were rather good (if a little stalkerish) neighbours.

A terribly nice gentleman in the flat below, Lord Keith, wasn’t, as it happens, of the opinion that we were terribly good neighbours. Aside from having to endure four spotty, leather-clad (and bandana wrapped) teenagers traipsing up and down the stairs with guitars and drum kits every weekend, he also had the misfortune of being flooded by our hapless drummer who forgot to turn the bath taps off before we headed out to band practice one morning.  Flooding a flat is never good but flooding a palatial Eaton Square des-res is really not good! We returned later that day to find a big red fire engine and an even bigger, redder Lord Keith laying in wait, outside.

Not long after that episode I was (quite literally) disowned, with my father’s secretary packing up all by belongings in a bin bag and chucking it out on the street.  In fairness, I deserved it.  I’d just done an ‘exclusive’ interview with the Daily Mail about my rebellion and subsequent expulsion from school only to fall foul of the oldest trick in the book.  Whereas my interview had been generally good natured and decidedly ‘cheeky chappie-ish’ not to mention more than a little tongue in cheek, the Daily Mail (God bless ‘em) went for the more literal/scandalous headline “The day my Dad attacked me with a pair of scissors!”  The piece was an entire DPS with a picture of me in full rock regalia (including, I’m proud to say, a vintage Beastie Boys T-shirt) and my dad’s grimacing face barely containing his rage.  Friends called me all day long to say how great it was and that they had seen countless people reading it on the tube.

My father maintains that his rather excessive reason for having the Eaton Square Penthouse (complete with helicopter on permanent standby at nearby Battersea Heliport along with his chauffeur, Wilf, in the Bentley – he didn’t do things by halves) was that it was ‘good for business’ and he did, in fact, entertain there frequently.  With a huge open plan living space and panoramic views of West London towards Buckingham Palace (and his party trick of taking people into the back bedroom (formerly mine) to spy on Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sarah Brightman (and sometimes even Elaine Paige if you were lucky)), an invitation to “Mr.Fun’s” place was…well…fun!

The point I’m trying to make is the London Penthouse is still, to this day, the enduring symbol of success and excess. A stunning location on top of the world can stimulate your guests like no other and, in a commercial world, this means that there are an abundance of breath-taking event spaces (either privately owned or commercially hireable) just bursting to be flaunted. 

Here are a few of our favourites:

Skyloft – skilfully converted into a New York style brick walled Penthouse, complete with old school wooden floors (including distressed basketball court markings), by New Balance for the Olympics (and kept that way because it looked so cool), Skyloft is a sensational and iconic event space on top of the Millbank Tower in Westminster.

Skyloft

Altitude 360 – The original (high) Altitude venue in the Millbank Tower, this slick and clean-cut venue classic is as popular today as it was when it launched a few years ago.  A fantastic open plan event space (directly below Skyloft) with wonderful panoramic views of London.

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The Gherkin – Despite the on-going rise of London’s ever-changing skyline, the Gherkin’s ‘40/30’ venue is still one of the smartest and most spectacular high level penthouses in The City. With a dramatic venue space at the very pinnacle of the tower (because modern design allows the lift shafts to be operated from below) this place is perfect for events in the round, with simply magical views of London.  The Gherkin is, quite simply, still hard to beat.  I was once up there when the wind-speed was clocking 100mph, and the entire building was noticeably twisting (by design). A ground-breaking engineering masterpiece…

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Tower 42 – The original Nat West Tower (and if you’re ever in a helicopter and have the opportunity to look down on it from above, you’ll see that the building is shaped like the Nat West logo!). The building is actually taller than the Gherkin but their event spaces are slightly lower because the lift mechanism is at the top. Their timeless Champagne Bar, Vertigo 42 is available for private hire and as the London skyline grows, the view just gets more and more spectacular…

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The Heron Tower - Complete with an aquarium and three world class restaurants (Duck & Waffle being the best known for it’s stunning and inspiring architectural grandeur) the soaring Heron Tower is fast becoming an iconic destination for aspirational brands and exclusive events. The Skybar is nothing short of awe-inspiring and their high level terrace is undoubtedly one of the finest close-up cityscape views, anywhere in the world. You are, quite literally, “in” the view here…   

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The Lloyd’s of London buildingWhenever I’m asked what my favourite venue in London is, it’s this. A little known hidden gem, the Adam Room atop the über-eccentric Lloyd’s building on Leadenhall St is a revelation to all those who exit the glass elevator on the 11th floor. Designed by the famous architect Robert Adam in 1763 as a dining room for the Earl of Sherbourne, the room was bought at auction and installed in the 1958 Lloyd’s building (just across the road from the current building). The 18th century room was relocated to the present building in 1986 and is mainly used for meetings and presentations as well as for its original purpose of dining. From the 11th floor you can look down into the Room where trading takes place and the famous Lutine Bell, which was traditionally rung to herald important announcements; one stroke for bad news, two strokes for good. When you push the towering oak doors open, it’s like walking through a gigantic wardrobe and entering a sort of neo-classical Narnia filled with treasures from a bygone era. Sash windows, Aubusson carpets, ornate chandeliers and beautiful George the third furniture makes the situation of this beautiful room all the more incredulous as you stare out over London from on high. It feels like you’re floating in the clouds…

 

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Harrods Helipad – I think health and safety may have put a stop to this one but the novelty of al fresco dining on Al Fayed’s original Helipad was too great to resist mentioning! An amazing opportunity, as long as it’s not in our new ‘monsoon’ season!


Grand Connaught Rooms – Tucked away at the top of this huge series of ornate event spaces is a Penthouse apartment, originally lived in by one of the Freemasons from the days when the Freemason’s Hall next door incorporated the Grand Connaught Rooms.  This is a small intimate Penthouse with it’s own private roof-terrace overlooking Covent Garden. Great for small(ish) groups…   

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The Shard – Undoubtedly the most impressive structure that has ever graced the London skyline, The Shard is the ultimate in (erm) high-end entertaining. Billed as Europe’s first ‘vertical city’, the Shard is home to a variety of top restaurants, entertaining spaces, the soon to open Shangri-La Hotel and, of course, the highest viewing platform in Europe…

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Leadenhall Building – Not yet completed, this dramatic tower is one of the few, which hasn’t (quite) succumbed to its nickname.  But then again, the ‘cheese-grater’ doesn’t sound all that aspirational, does it? Yet another building jostling for position with the nearby Gherkin, this tower has high-level executive suites and meeting rooms and serves as a more formal option for corporate groups looking for inspirational meeting spaces…

Skybar @ Aspers Casino – Up on the roof of the Stratford Westfield Centre, this slick and open plan penthouse event space has a bar the entire length of the venue and an even longer roof terrace – overlooking Olympic Avenue with an impressive vista towards the Olympic Stadium. Great for ‘Olympic’ BBQ’s!

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Paramount – an absolute classic on top of Centrepoint at the end of Oxford Street, this stunning venue spans the entire top two floors and has properly panoramic views of the whole of London – from Harrow to the Eiffel Tower (well, almost!). Minimalist, open plan and brilliant for events of all shapes and sizes…

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Ruby Blue – not as high in the sky as some of the others but the greatest vantage point in Leicester Square, particularly for movie premieres.  Check out their stunning classical balcony too…

The Penthouse - In an article, which is essentially all about Penthouses, it would be rude not to include the…Penthouse, also in Leicester Square! This iconic (or is it gloriously notorious?) venue on three floors is situated in the building where momentary nightclub ‘Home’ (which we did the launch for in my PR days, funnily enough) was situated. We recently hosted the launch of a new TV series all about football here, which demonstrates it’s enormous versatility on so many levels (excuse the pun!)

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20 Fenchurch Street – Again, not yet finished but this building is so hot it melts unsuspecting Jaguars…! The most incredible thing about this building is that the top floor is actually bigger than the ground floor due to its gravity-busting entassis (I love that architectural word and Microsoft doesn’t even know it, so now I like it even more!). That simply means that it will have the most sensational event spaces in London, with the ‘Sky Garden’ being a sort of futuristic ‘Twenty First Century Roof Gardens on Acid’, incorporating full sized trees, a world-class Michelin starred restaurant run by Heston Blumenthal and Rhubarb, and an Avatar-esque magical forest suspended several hundred feet above terra firma (not the corporate HQ, but the actual surface of the earth).

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Look up!

Will Broome, CEO