…from a photography perspective.
As a professional event photographer, I’m always getting asked what my favourite venues are in London. Of course, there’s lots of things that make a venue great – it could be the attitude of the management, the whizzy tech facilities, or something about the history.
But quite honestly, my take on the question generally comes down to: “where’s really lovely to shoot?”
So here are ten of the best – guaranteed to make me smile when a booking comes in.
1. The Royal Institution
This really does have everything – spaces large and small, with the jewel being the historic Faraday Lecture Theatre: the home of science, and venue for the unveiling of some of the greatest discoveries of all time. Excellent vantage points and always good for interesting shots. This is one of my favourites: camera on pole held way out above the theatre from the top gallery.
2. Café de Paris
Something about this place just screams “SLEAZE” – but in a very, very good way. All sorts of shenanigans have gone on here over the years – you can sense it as soon as you walk in. Lovely intimate venue, and you won’t believe what’s to be found in the downstairs room below the main space. If you know, you know…
3. The Roundhouse
Formerly part of north London’s rail infrastructure, with an unusual circular design that used to house a turntable, it’s naturally photogenic. Given a good production and lighting, it’s pretty hard to beat for bigger events.
4. Cutty Sark
After the terrible fire that destroyed much of this historic ship, a visionary design team rebuilt it on an enclosed space – and made the void below the hull into a beautiful event venue. So you are eating and drinking and dancing underneath a freaking massive boat! Drinks on deck are also great fun, surrounded by lots of history.
5. City Hall
There are two excellent event spaces in London’s City Hall. On the top floor, London’s Living Room offers incredible views over Tower Bridge and the City, but the Council Chamber is a work of utter beauty. And if you look up…
6. Drapers’ Hall
The Livery halls are the homes of London’s ancient trade guilds, and the Drapers’ – in the heart of the City – is one of the grandest. Pretty formal, but works very well for larger events, with spacious reception rooms for drinks beforehand.
7. Design Museum
This used to be the Commonwealth Institute in Holland Park but got a full makeover as it became the new home for the Design Museum. Great events team, and lots of event spaces, all of which look very lovely. As they should, I suppose.
8. Digital Catapult
For smaller events, especially with a technology theme, the Digital Catapult in Euston offers clean, bright space, with killer views over London’s most beautiful railway station.
9. The Gherkin
Top floor. 360 views of London. Middle of everything. Be there at sunset. Thank me later.
10. The King’s Head
Is it cool? Yes. Is it quirky? HELL YES. This private members’ club in Shoreditch has to be seen to be believed. Downstairs it’s all classic Victorian boozer chic. Upstairs it’s a decadent madhouse of curios, butterfly displays and massive stuffed animals. Either the giraffe or the polar bear will be the big hit, I guarantee.
11. Westminster Abbey
Ok, a quick bonus one. This is a bit of a cheat as it’s not technically an event venue itself, but it does have great spaces like the Cloisters and Cellarium, and if you book in there you can add on tours of the cathedral. Beautiful, historic and genuinely awe-inspiring.