While meetings and events are a normal part of everyone’s private and professional life, some of us are privileged to make our living in this sector. For us there’s both an art and a science to meeting and event planning and the choice of location or venue is crucial as it will inform so much of the event’s identity and impact so much on its outcome.
Sometimes we’re looking for a venue that’s truly “out there”, different from any conventional setting, maybe a little challenging, edgy, out-of-our-comfort-zone because we know that selecting such a venue will deliver perfectly on our event objectives. Here’s a list of weird and wonderful venues that’ll definitely tempt and tantalize!
The Mansion on O Street is, variously, a small private hotel, a venue, a restaurant, a museum, a gallery or a store selling everything from a needle to an anchor. It occupies several interconnecting brownstone Victorian buildings and there are 100 rooms, apparently, of varying sizes and shapes along with scores of secret doors and passageways.
You can take a self-directed tour and you’re permitted to go anywhere with due regard to the privacy of any “hotel” guests (most were checked out when we visited). It’s a definite case of Alice-in-Wonderland as your visit becomes “curiouser and curiouser” the more you explore. A leit-motiv throughout the house are the guitars, most signed gifts from artists and musicians who have sought anonymity at The Mansion on O Street. All the rooms are statement rooms but the Log Cabin Room is definitely the most whacky and the John Lennon room is the most exquisitely staged. If you want a truly whacky venue then check this one out for your next meeting or event.
Photo credit: J.P. Goss, jpgossphotography.com
2. Brighton i360, Brighton, UK
Designed by the firm behind the London Eye, Brighton i360 will be the world’s tallest moving observation tower with a capacity for 200 guests. I say “will be” as the i360 is still under construction with a planned Summer 2016 launch. It’s a cool and unusual venue par excellence that’ll allow you run a private event in the sky with stunning views along the Sussex coast.
The facility is essentially a giant glass pod with its own bar, sound system and video screens, all customisable to the specific objectives of your event or meeting. At the base of the tower is a beach building with stunning hospitality rooms, all set in a fantastic beach-side setting with sea views and opening up to a private beach-side terrace.
3. The Overland Trail: Vintage Railroad Passenger Car, LA, USA
If your event has a vintage theme and you live in the LA area then you might consider doing your event in an old railroad passenger car! Built in 1949, the Overland Trail is a former Southern Pacific railroad passenger car. It's a 1st class lounge that seats 39 at tables and loose club chairs. The car is typically used at weekend for leisure trips but mid-week is available for hire at its quiet siding at Union Station. Food and drinks can be served and AV facilities can be hired in as required. This is a lovingly maintained venue that evokes the nostalgia of the glamour and mystery of travel in days gone by. It’s a motivational venue to stimulate and inspire creativity.
Smock Alley Theatre is Dublin’s oldest public venue and is now magnificently restored as a 3 location facility offering great versatility and flexibility for cool and unusual meetings and events. Smock Alley comes with a proud thespian heritage: David Garrick, actor, producer, playwright – the Clint Eastwood of the seventeen hundreds – actually played there.
One venue is the Boys’ School, a wonderful multi-level facility with a huge central void. The original windows and brickwork of a much earlier structure form the backdrop of the space with the audience seated on traditional church pews which can be configured in a U-shape to create maximum intimacy.
Smock Alley also includes a traditional theatre with tiered seating for 178 attendees where the back wall of the stage formed the original walls of the 1662 construction. The Banquet Hall, meanwhile, is a capacious space of 325 sqm, full of wonderful period detail including an ornate stucco ceiling and some lovely stained glass from when Smock Alley served as a Church. It’ll take 250 theatre style for a meeting.
What about a venue in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by the savage aridity of the Moroccan desert? That’s essentially what you get at La Pause, a most weird and wonderful venue built around a flourishing oasis in the middle of the Agafay valley about 45 minutes from Marrakech. La Pause is an astonishing facility comprising guest accommodation, catering and activities. It is one of the most extraordinary venues I’ve ever seen with broad applications across the full spectrum of meetings, incentives, conferences and events. There’s no electricity there at all so your nights are illuminated only by the moon, the stars and flickering candles. It’s romantic, inspiring, and deeply motivational.
Good venue choice in event management is inextricably linked with the event objectives and can be the defining factor for the success of your event. These 5 venues all colour outside the lines and, in so doing, provide the extra element of surprise and delight that can make your meeting marvellous and your event extraordinary.