There's something just a little bit magical about partying on top of the world, with the shimmering City busily going about it’s frantically, fast-paced business in a galaxy far, far away (well, a long, long way below anyway!). Cocooned in your own (often glass) enclosure, seemingly suspended in the sky, your event is enhanced by your very own unique vantage point whereby you and your guests are instantly elevated to the ‘upper echelons’ of high society…
The London skyline is evolving year on year and has arguably become one of the most spectacularly beautiful vistas in the world matching, even surpassing, any major city from Singapore to San Francisco due to it’s diverse, eclectic and adventurous architectural endeavor.
From Europe’s highest viewing platform to the world’s most iconic and recognizable Victorian landmark, London offers the finest venues with views, arguably anywhere in the world.
I remember a time when I used to visit Theme Park conventions as a teenager (organized by IAAPA – check them out if you want to discover an uber-fun field, which is almost too much fun to be an actual legal industry sector!) The big ticket party was always hosted by Vekoma Rollercoasters and it was traditionally a ‘statement event’ and therefore at the top of the biggest skyscraper in town. As I said, there’s something fantastical about rooftop venues, which at the very least, make people show up! The ever-evolving London skyline ensures that there are new heights to scale just around almost every corner…
So, inhale deeply and prepare to get high on our top ten venues with altitude…
1. Landing 42 at the Leadenhall Building, London’s newest and arguably most innovative addition to the skyline is this instantly iconic forty-second floor venue at the top of the ‘Cheese Grater’. Exclusively operated by Xcite, in partnership with Landlords British Land and Oxford Properties, Level 42 is now open for bookings later this summer and at 650 feet above street level, you can mesmerize up to 300 guests at a time…!
2. The View from the Shard. At almost twice the height of London’s next highest viewing platform, the View from the Shard is simply breathtaking with views stretching some 40 miles in every direction! This versatile venue space can cater for up to 400 guests and is well equipped for both catering and production.
3. Sushi Samba/Duck and Waffle. The ubiquitous glass box on top of a big building, the lower level Sushi Samba terrace is a firm favourite for awe-inspiring pre-dinner drinks and the beautifully simplistic Duck & Waffle above combine to make one of London’s most sensational evenings out. The sweeping staircase that links the two is an inspirational journey in itself, as is the great glass super-fast elevator ride from the dedicated entrance on street level.
4. City Social, Tower 42. As probably the original towering private dining experience, Tower 42 has been re-invented by City Social which has become a super-cool and iconic destination venue in itself. Set ‘in the view’ as opposed to above it, City Social is an awesome bar with altitude, right in the heart of the City.
5. Oxo Tower. Sitting unobtrusively on the Southbank, with stunning river views and benefitting from a cool, minimalist, warehouse style atmosphere, the Oxo Tower is still a revered London venue which is perfect for product launches, conferences, luncheons, dinners or stunning evening riverside receptions.
6. Searcy's at the Gherkin. One of the only London venues with a full spherical environment (mainly due to the fact that the dome is completely free of elevator shafts which sit on the floor below), the Gherkin is a modern day marvel of engineering and aesthetic proportions with views which, although originally uninterrupted when it was first constructed, is ironically enhanced by the other towers which now surround it – from the Heron Tower to 20 Fenchurch St.
7. 20 Fenchurch St. Last year’s big and highly anticipated launch, ‘20 Fen’ as it’s already commonly known as is a large-scale venue space high in the City sky. Bigger up top than down below (a bit like Olivia from our office!), this vast venue benefits from vertigo-inducing views via it’s over-sized glass overhanging frontage, a tropical garden, world-class cuisine by Rhubarb and an iconic new place on the London skyline to rival the Gherkin, the London Eye and the Shard. The Walkie-talkie may have famously melted a Jag parked on the street below when it beamed onto the scene but now it’s melting hearts with all who grace its amazing space…simply unforgettable.
8. Tower Bridge. Possibly the world’s most recognizable architectural icon (go on, try to come up with a more famous one!), Tower Bridge offers what is, effectively, a glass bridge at the top of the most high profile draw-bridge in the universe…Their newly refurbished event space not only offers far-reaching views up (and down!) the Thames but their glass floor also offers a leg-wobbling added dimension (especially after a few glasses of wine) for thrill-seeking delegates with adrenaline pumping tendencies.
9. ArcelorMittal Orbit. Still relatively new to the events scene, the orbit is quite literally a work of art towering above the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park offering far-reaching views of the City and beyond. What’s really special about the Orbit is it’s surprisingly functional event spaces and sensational outlook. Their Podium events and roof terrace in the building next door is perfect for larger conferences and compliments the two circular event spaces at the top of the structure. They’re flexible too – you can have dinner up there or jump off the balcony for a rapid abseil down – whichever you prefer!
10. Skyloft/Altitude 360. As one of London’s first movers in the band-wagon inducing skyscraper event -space revolution, Hell, they’ve even snaffled the unbeatable ‘Altitude’ moniker which not only says what it does on the tin, but also covers every high-rise related pun know to man. Their super cool Skyloft was home to New Balance during the Olympics and their two further event spaces (Altitude 360 up top and the (brilliantly equipped) Millbank Media Centre below) make this venue one of the most popular and versatile places in town!
11. 5th View. Nestled above Waterstones Piccadilly, this beautifully tranquil event space is a refreshing change to the bustling City alternatives. With amazing views over the back towards the Houses of Parliament, this secret West End venue is perfect for dinners, receptions, lunches and product launches (especially book launches of course!)
12. The Penthouse at The London Edition. As one of London’s most desirable new venues, The London Editon Hotel is the only London hotel to successfully combine Neo-Classical sophistication with oak-clad minimalist modern style. And boy does it work! At over 2,000 square feet, their sensational and highly private Penthouse Suite is perfect for small to medium sized gatherings of up to 50 guests. The terrace outside serves up sun-soaked and super 360 degree views. Unbeatable for style and grace…
13. The Lloyds Building. Effectively a ‘secret venue’ that not many people seem to know about, the top floor of the iconic Lloyds Building is a Palatial Eighteenth Century ballroom, complete with sash windows, lavish swag curtains, solid oak floors, chandeliers, elaborate plasterwork ceilings, and even an original aubusson carpet! This beautiful room was painstakingly transported, piece by piece, from the original Lloyds Insurance Headquarters to the top of this still spellbinding and groundbreaking exo-skeletal retro-skyscraper. It’s very rare that the opportunity arises to book this venue but it’s always worth asking the question because it’s just so good, it’s befitting of even the most fastidious of ‘Bond Baddies’…!
14. The Harrow School dining room. We only mention this because the world’s most famous school (anyone who went to Eton would argue that it’s the world’s second most famous school, of course!) has, quite befittingly, a sensational panoramic view of the London Skyline just 10 miles away, including Wembley Stadium framed in the foreground. So, for a unique combo of fascinating heritage and fantastic views, I’d wholeheartedly recommend going straight back to school!