Ah, the meeting. A staple of professional life that must be endured multiple times a year. But it doesn't have to be as mundane as we imagine it to be. With London's rich history comes a wide range of meeting-room venues that epitomises that sense of celebrating the bygone days. Here are 5 of those historical rooms in which to rendezvous.
The City's unique livery halls have deep roots in London's history. The Company of Watermen, for instance, was founded in 1555, and Watermen's Hall was established in the Georgian period to accommodate the members of the company. Today, the Court Room can host up to 60 people for meetings and presentations in a variety of seating layouts – and even a wedding license, in case Powerpoints are so inspiring that they evolve into true love.
Greenwich's Old Royal Naval College is steeped in a complex history starting from the 1420s, where it began as a relatively modest manor house. Reinventing itself as Greenwich Palace years later, it was the birthplace of Henry VIII and his siblings. It later became the Royal Hospital and then a base for training naval officers – hence its name today. Admiral's House is a collection of six elegantly wood-panelled meeting rooms that can accommodate up to 70 visitors each – all a short stroll from another British naval gem: the Cutty Sark.
Nowadays, there are breweries right, left and centre, with enough citrus brews and coriander aftertastes to fill the Gulf of Mexico. But in The City stands the site of the Whitbread Brewery, established in 1750 and visited since by many a monarch. It was a functioning brewery until the 1970s, and now it remains as one of the most versatile venues in London. Meeting-goers can congregate in The James Watt Room, which contains a PA system and allows for gatherings to be catered. Larger conferences can use this flexible room as a breakout area, too.
Back to the livery world we go, with a trip to the home of the prestigious Haberdasher's Company. This one goes even further back through the centuries, with the first hall completed in 1458. The hall as we know it today – the fourth, in fact – was opened in 2002 by the Queen, and while it's therefore a contemporary space, it keeps its history intact while offering the best of modern technological amenities. The Court Room boasts a beautiful, U-shaped oak table to preside over boardroom sessions, while the courtyard and extensive space also permits it to hold celebratory receptions for up to 75 guests.
A summer favourite for film festivals and a winter wonderland for the famed ice-skating rink, Somerset House is a true London landmark. Its history begins when the Duke of Somerset started building his mansion in 1547 – but was unable to enjoy his creation due to being executed shortly after. Inconvenient. Over the years, it's been used for a variety of purposes, most recently as a home for arts and learning (and appearing as a backdrop in movies such as Sherlock Holmes and GoldenEye). The Navy Board Rooms provide a meeting space that mixes the traditional Palladian architecture with modern facilities.
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