YVONNE GORDON looks at the best places to meet, eat and stay for executives doing business in the London Docklands.
Where to meet
The huge ExCel exhibitions and conventions centre on Royal Victoria Dock (excel.london), between London City Airport and Canary Wharf, has 100,000m2 of space with two main halls, plus three sets of function rooms, eight hotels and 22 restaurants on site. It’s less than a mile from London City Airport, is served by two DLR (Docklands Light Railway) stations and has 3,700 parking spaces on site.
The O2 (theo2.co.uk/hire-a-venue) can accommodate anything from 100 to 20,000 delegates for a conference, with meeting rooms, break-out areas, clubs, lounges and exhibition areas, chances to see artists in the Green Room, plus options for team-building activities such as a thrilling private climb at the venue.
For something special with a Thames-side setting, check out the historic Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich (venuehire.ornc.org), an architectural masterpiece which is ideal for banquets, receptions and meetings, with options such as the Painted Hall, the Queen Mary or King William Undercroft or the Admiral’s House.
Meet and stay
Luxury hotel the Intercontinental London (ihg.com) at The O2 has 20 meeting spaces covering more than 65,000sq ft. including a ballroom that can accommodate up to 3,000 delegates, plus 453 rooms and a spa.
The four-star Radisson Blu Edwardian at New Providence Wharf (radissonblu-edwardian.com) has 714.8m2 of meeting space with 10 event spaces including a conference room for 250, the River Room for up to 50 with views of the O2, and six meeting rooms, plus 169 bedrooms with integral workspaces.
The trendy four-star ALoft London ExCel (aloftlondonexcel.com) has six meeting rooms plus 252 bedrooms and can organise group activities from cocktail classes to barbecues.
Where to entertain
Boisdale at Canary Wharf (boisdale.co.uk) is a lively spot in Canary Wharf with live music and jazz evenings and a great view of the City of London skyline. It’s also home to an oyster bar, whisky bar and cigar library, a terrace and there is also private dining available.
Celebrate the closing of a deal at Champagne & Fromage at Greenwich Church Street (champagneplusfromage.co.uk), which serves the best French bubbles with a selection of limited-production champagne from award-winning producers, along with around 50 different artisan French cheeses with cured meats, pâtés and preserves.
For informal dining, tuck into contemporary Japanese cuisine at Roka (rokarestaurant.com) in Canary Wharf. The house speciality is robatayaki, where the chefs grill food at a barbecue in front of the customers (there is space for 14 at the counter) or try the 12-course tasting menu with sushi and sashimi.
Where to play
There’s plenty to see and do in the London Docklands area, from river trips to events at the 02 Arena (theo2.co.uk) or a trip across the Thames on the Emirates Air Line Cable Car which joins Greenwich Peninsula and Royal Docks. As well as exploring Greenwich, those interested in all things maritime can hop on board clipper ship the Cutty Sark at King William Walk (rmg.co.uk) and check out life below decks.
Or just a short walk from Canary Wharf, and set in early 19th-century warehouses on West India Quay, the Museum of London Docklands (museumoflondon.org.uk/docklands) tells the story of the River Thames from Roman Times and how the docklands developed. The exhibitions feature everything from machinery and models to boats moored outside and the building also has corporate meeting and conference facilities.
On a sunny day or for a meeting break, check out the Crossrail Place Roof Garden at One Canada Square, which is around the same size as Trafalgar Square and has interconnecting paths, tropical gardens and a geometric roof, partially open to allow the elements in.
How to get there
From central London, the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) connects to the London Underground. For air travel, one way fares from Dublin to London City Airport with Cityjet start from €39 one way including taxes, charges and free checked baggage and corporate rates are available, see cityjet.com