Best venues for breakfast meetings
Seal the deal over breakfast with our selection of London’s best venues for breakfast meetings, from a cool Soho club to the penguin beach at ZSL London Zoo.
We're frequently told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Well, in event industry terms, it's certainly the most important meeting of the day. How often have you realised that you get an awful lot more done first thing in the morning than at any other time? I find that what I achieve before 9am is often far more productive than anything that follows. 8am to 9am is the golden hour and trendy eateries from the West End to the City are increasingly focused on this notion. In fact, I wrote half of this article at the end of the day and the other half early in the morning. Reading it back, I can tell which bits I wrote when and it’s almost painful for me to read the evening parts because they are so much less sharp and witty – a great, real-time case in point!
So, breakfast meetings are on the up. In fact, there's been a huge increase in corporations choosing to meet over breakfast, essentially before the working day starts and the notion is spreading.
Events are more important than ever, whether it's a product launch, an AGM, a conference, presentation or a simple breakfast meeting. Face to face is increasingly crucial (and novel) in the fast paced digital age so the event environment itself is essential. As our recent catering report demonstrates, food is increasingly important too because it's a major ingredient in this overall experience. The atmosphere (and location) of the venue (near a tube is a must first thing in the morning) coupled with quality cuisine is all that matters. Of course there are more intricate factors too - is the venue conducive to meetings? Is it quiet enough to hear each other yet vibrant enough not to mean you're being listened to? But these are all factors we’ve taken into account throughout our lengthy and painstaking research over eggs benedict and the odd full English. Well, we need to practice what we preach now, don’t we?
So here are our top 14 (there were originally 13 but, like many hotels, for superstitious reasons, there’s no 13th floor!) breakfast meeting destinations, worth leaping out of bed for:
1. Riding House Cafe
This has to be the West End’s default trendy breakfast meeting place. I’ve had countless breakfasts here and only once have I been the one suggesting it. From the Directors of Quintessentially to the founder of Nectar Card (and all sorts of accountants, bankers and lawyers in between) this place seems to be the default rendez-vous for the tireless and trendy. It’s perfect though because the breakfasts are sensational (and quite simple) and the atmosphere is perfect for serious conversations in a relaxed environment.
2. The Athenaeum
An elegant and still somewhat secret Piccadilly hotel, The Athenaeum is the antithesis of style and quintessentially British elegance. With world class cuisine, a tranquil breakfast room as well as being tucked away in an unbeatable location between Hyde Park and Park Lane, this five star hotel is beautifully understated and highly conducive to productive meetings. Check it out.
3. The Folly Bar
A fairly regular haunt for us, mainly because of its uber-convenient location opposite Monument tube station. But it’s also huge – light, airy, spacious and dramatic. And we all love the drama! This high ceilinged, botanically themed City destination is fast becoming a modern classic. We once held a breakfast seminar in their downstairs breakfast bar area and it was the perfect space for a large-ish group, buffet style. Somehow all roads lead to the Folly Bar so we often end up here after nights out in the City but that’s another story for another time...
Rise & Dine! Wake up to a great New American breakfast and capture the buzz of the New York dining scene at Avenue, St James’s stunning, lofty art-focused restaurant and event space. There’s also a Saturday ‘drunch’ party for those who have worked up an appetite all week and really want the works, with unlimited Prosecco or Bloody Marys!
This iconic restaurant on the King’s Road is a modern classic and has a variety of event spaces, which are perfect for relaxed business breakfasts. Of course, it goes without saying that the food is exceptional but the really special thing about this place is that it effortlessly maintains a local neighbourhood restaurant atmosphere albeit on a grand scale.
6. South Place Hotel
With five private dining rooms and event spaces capable of accommodating up to 400 guests, South Place Hotel is a gloriously eccentric and impressively dramatic destination for business get-togethers. Their extensive breakfast menu compliments their fascinating modern art inspired interiors resulting in a fun, stimulating and engaging atmosphere for you and your guests, every time.
7. The Bull and The Hide
Genuinely one of the coolest, ‘boutiquiest’ new venues in town, the Bull and the Hide successfully blends a gastro pub, fine dining restaurant (and when we say ‘fine dining’ we really do mean ‘fine dining’ on a world class scale) and a boutique City hotel, all within a stone’s throw of Liverpool Street Station. I’ve presented at a corporate breakfast here in their delightful first floor restaurant, which is a perfect environment for meetings, seminars, presentations – whatever – especially if you like omeletes, because they do the best omelets in the world. #fact.
8. The Cumberland
At the top of Park Lane on the corner of Oxford Street resides one of the original minimalist and modern hotels, The Cumberland. With it’s dramatic and spacious open plan, up-lit (in pink!) lobby, this 1,000 room hotel is as imposing as it is welcoming – the perfect blend of power and peacefulness. In fact this place is so cool, it even has a Jimi Hendrix suite! Their Carbon Bar and ‘Momentous’ Champagne Bar are both excellent hide-aways amidst the bustling city but its their brasserie, serving traditional British breakfasts with a twist, which combines the best of both worlds so successfully.
9. The Union Soho
This beautiful Georgian townhouse, tucked away in the heart of Soho, is a private members’ club but open to corporate guests for private hire. Their a la carte menu is available all day, making the Union Club the perfect secret getaway for quiet, comfortable and focused breakfast meetings, in a relaxed and laid back environment. There’s even a private roof terrace for sunny summer breakfasts!
10. Hotel Russell
A palatial grand hotel just off Russell Square, this dramatic and imposing building has some of the most interesting history of all the great London hotels. It was one of the first hotels in London to have the wild luxury of offering en-suite bathrooms and has seen the great City of London grow and evolve around its commanding facades. There’s also a bronze dragon strategically positioned at the top of the stairs on the second floor, called ‘Lucky George’. He’s lucky because his creator, renowned architect Fitzroy-Doll, commissioned two dragons, which were forged simultaneously in the early 1900’s. His unfortunate counterpart is now two and a half miles down in the icy waters of the north Atlantic because he was (and still is) aboard RMS Titanic. This intriguing venue is perfect for breakfast meetings due to it’s wonderful cuisine, it’s beautiful (yet surprisingly intimate event spaces) and it’s excellent levels of service. It’s nice and relaxed too and is excellently located, of course.
11. The Alice Bar
A delightfully cool and contemporary, light and airy venue in the heart of the City, the Alice Bar offers a variety of different areas for breakfast meetings, catering for large or small groups. What’s more, depending on the size of your group, you can choose a whole host of spaces, each one providing it’s own modern design and unique environment.
12. The Booking Office at the St. Pancras Renaissance
It’s hard to believe that this monumental, imposing and iconic building stood empty and almost derelict for so many years. Oh, and during those years it was also the location for the Spice Girls’ breakthrough video for ‘Wannabe’ (remember the scene on the stairs?) With it’s fantastic location (right next to a really, really big station), it’s breathtaking Victorian grandeur (the ceiling height alone is impressive!), it’s modern take on the classic age of the Great Railways and, of course, it’s imaginative breakfast menu (check out their signature dishes), the Booking Office offers plenty of places to tuck yourself away for a productive and palatable start to the day. In style.
13. The Alchemist
“If you don’t like drinking cocktails, you haven’t been drinking the right ones”! is the sage advice from this iconic new City hang-out. Although, we don’t necessarily endorse the consumption of cocktails over breakfast – but who are we to judge? As the home of ‘molecular mixology’ and ‘scientists’ who like ‘mixing unexpected ingredients with unconventional equipment’, The Alchemist is a quirky, fun, cool and, above all, different place which is open from 7am daily, and perfect for somewhat alternative first thing breakfast briefings over a non-alcoholic cocktail or two!
14. Penguin Beach at ZSL London Zoo
Breakfast with the penguins! This week we launched the second London PA Awards at the sensational ‘Penguin Beach’ at ZSL London Zoo where 2013 London PA of the Year, Amelia Scudamore, is the Zoo Keeper. That’s not entirely true, but she is PA to the Zoo Keeper! Sort of. Aside from being a totally unique way to spend the morning, Penguin Beach is a magical setting, especially at breakfast time where a healthy breakfast buffet is served on the decking area overlooking the gigantic penguin pool! The idea is that you and your guests have breakfast with the penguins! Treat your clients to an experience like this and they’ll really know who’s who in the zoo!
15. The Roof Gardens
For summer breakfast meetings and events there really is nowhere more surreal andmagical than these beautiful Italianate Roof Gardens perched high upon an ironically now iconic former department store tower in Kensington. With mature trees, beautifully manicured flower beds, cloisters, aerial courtyards and a pond (complete with resident flamingos) this is a breakfast venue your delegates will never forget. RSVP here if you'd like to come and experience it for yourself on the 11th August.
16. Landing 42 @ The Leadenhall Building
As one of the newest and most hotly anticipated venue spaces on the scene, Landing 42 is perfect for power-breakfasts whilst your delegates survey the City below from 650 ft above. With an extensive 5,000 sq. ft. event space which can accommodate up to 300 guests for a reception (and 250 seated), Landing 42 is the new place to aspire to…
But first make sure you set yourself up for the day with a good breakfast! And for anyone who tries all 16 we talk about (and tweets a picture from each one!) there’s an extra special prize, which involves food. And Champagne!
Will Broome CEO