While much of the industry is on hold right now, planners have much to look forward to when they once again can send their attendees to meetings and incentives in Great Britain. London offers a number of exciting new properties, while Blackpool, the famous resort to the north, is in the midst of a face-lift. Beyond England, Scotland and Wales each recently expanded their offerings by unveiling spanking-new conference facilities.
CONVENTION CENTER: ExCel London, 1,060,000 square feet of exhibit space
TAXES: Room tax, 20% VAT; taxes on all goods and services throughout the United Kingdom, 20%
CVBS: London & Partners; Visit Britain; Visit Blackpool; Visit Wales; Visit Scotland
VENUE FINDER: To find hotels and send RFPs, visit Northstar’s venue finder.
London Venue Update
Many of the capital's venues might be closed now and for the foreseeable future, but planners can still conduct site inspections of some top meeting hotels and event facilities via the new virtual-tour feature on the London Convention Bureau website. In other late-breaking venue news, the temporary hospital built at the ExCel convention center was expected to be dismantled in May, according to press reports. Originally planned to have 4,000 beds, the Nightingale was opened by Prince Charles in April. The facility handled fewer than 100 cases during the weeks it was in operation.
The London Hotel Scene
Part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World collection, The Academy has reopened following an extensive renovation. The hotel, which is made up of five townhouses, has 50 guest rooms, a bar, a restaurant and the Courtyard, where sumptuous afternoon tea is served. The Bloomsbury property offers three meeting spaces: the Library, for up to six attendees; the Refectory, which hosts up to 40, and the Genius Lab, a boardroom that accommodates 30 delegates.
The 900-room Hard Rock Hotel London has debuted on the corner of Oxford Street and Park Lane, one of the city’s most iconic locations. The property offers two lively bars, a Hard Rock Café and about 23,000 square feet of meeting space.
The sleek and modern Bankside Hotel, part of the One Blackfriars development, is another recent entrant to London’s hospitality scene. The 161-room property features space dedicated to live artists practicing their crafts (design, painting, sculpture, film, drawing, printmaking, photography and more). The hotel has three meeting rooms.
The Millennium Hotel London Mayfair has reopened as the 307-room Biltmore Mayfair following a major face-lift. The property is part of Hilton’s LXR Hotels & Resorts portfolio. The Biltmore has two meeting rooms: the Kendal Suite and a 5,380-square-foot ballroom. The Betterment by Jason Atherton restaurant, an alfresco terrace, a cocktail bar and a fitness suite round out the amenities.
Edwardian Hotel’s The Londoner is scheduled to open this year in the West End, home to many of the city’s major attractions. The 350-room property will have two cinemas, a state-of-the-art ballroom (accommodating up to 850 guests) and two additional meeting rooms. Other offerings include a lobby bar, a rooftop bar, a signature restaurant and a gastro-tavern.
The 82-room Prince Akotoki London debuted in late 2019. Prince Hotels’ first entry into the European market, a showcase of Japanese minimalism, has one meeting room.
Rosewood Hotels will open a 137-room property on the site of the former U.S. Embassy in Grosvenor Square by 2023. The hotel will offer a variety of dining and entertainment spaces, including five gourmet restaurants. Also on site will be a signature spa and a grand ballroom with space for up to 1,000 guests. British architect Sir David Chipperfield has been selected to oversee the design process.
Housed in the former Camden Town Hall Annex in London’s King’s Cross neighborhood, the Standard, London, is the first of the brand built outside the United States. The 266-room property has eight event spaces, including a private dining room for up to 38 in Decimo, chef Peter Sanchez- Iglesias’s on-site restaurant.
Blackpool’s New Offerings
The resort town on England’s Northwest coast is in the midst of a renaissance. Among the developments is the Blackpool Conference & Exhibition Centre, which will accommodate up to 2,000 delegates. The facility will be part of Blackpool’s Winter Gardens, which also includes the Empress Ballroom, the Spanish Hall, the Opera House Theatre and the Olympia Exhibition Hall.
The resort’s first five-star property, the 91-room Sands Venue Resort Hotel and Spa should open sometime later this year. Further details were unavailable at press time.
Scotland’s Shiny New Venue
Heading farther north, the P&J Live development debuted last summer in Aberdeen, about 130 miles from Edinburgh. The $430 million complex draws groups with its more than 500,000 square feet of event space, including conference and exhibition halls, an arena and two hotels — the 200-room Hilton Aberdeen TECA and the 150-room Aloft Aberdeen TECA.