May 1, 2014

Private Dining Rooms In London For Anniversary Celebrations.

A private dining room is the perfect place to hold an anniversary celebration. Let’s face it, the chances are, if you’re looking for a private room to celebrate a wedding anniversary or something similar, then you will be of a certain age. Now I know that 40 is the new 20 but I don’t want to have a special celebratory dinner with intimate friends next door to a raucous table of (real) 20-somethings.

I have noticed that as I’ve got older my friends and I increasingly prefer the seclusion of a private room, partly because we are becoming grumpy old men and women who can’t hear, but also – and more in truth – because our lives have all become so busy, juggling jobs, kids, parents, houses, etc  that the times when we are able to get together become even more precious and we want to be able to cherish them without external disturbances– as well as hear what each other are saying!

Great places I’ve found on my travels while writing’s Insider Views for just such occasions are varied and plentiful.

On my side of London there’s the River Café – Its private room for up to 18 guests not only incorporates the cheese fridge with views of all their fabulous cheeses but without any of the smells, but it also opens out onto the riverside courtyard, where it’s possible to have champagne receptions and canapés of a summer evening. A great ‘USP’ is that the private room starter is a sharing platter of fabulous anti-pasti, the perfect thing for friends to enjoy while nattering and catching up.

Slightly more formal central London gems I love are the private dining rooms at quintessentially English restaurants Wiltons and Rules – their rooms scream old school etiquette but have also been updated to feel fresh and leave behind any vestiges of stuffiness from days of old.

At Wiltons the Jimmy Marks private dining room is essentially a beautiful drawing room for up to 20 guests with plush carpets and striking sketches on the walls. As well as anniversaries, it’s often used for discrete celebratory lunches and dinners by those who’ve been to receive honours from the Queen at neighbouring Buckingham Palace.  With its own cloakroom, soft padded chairs and lift to the toilets, it’s also ideal for guests with mobility issues.

Being in the heart of Covent Garden’s theatre-land, Rules’ two private rooms are dominated by its artistic roots. The Graham Greene and John Betjeman Rooms (see what I mean) seat up to 18 and 10 guests respectively, on fabulously padded red leather chairs. Up a creaky staircase, the rooms’ wood panelled walls are covered in prints from old shows and antique cartoons. The L-shaped Graham Greene Room also has space for standing drinks receptions by the striking original lead-latticed windows. Unique touches such as silver cutlery and candelabras, flowers by David Isaac and beautifully folded linen napkins all make this venue ideal for special anniversaries and other important celebrations.

A couple more in my little black book for this type of event are Marcus – formerly Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley – and Hibiscus. Seating up to 16 on one table, Marcus’s private room is essentially an annexe to the main dining room and can be closed off entirely or partially opened depending on guest preference. What makes the room stand out though is its beautiful distressed mirrored doors and walls, its ornamental black metal lighting and chandelier. With its white tablecloths, bespoke show plates and simple candles, the room has an elegantly refined air befitting its two Michelin star status.

Similarly the fine-dining restaurant Hibiscus has a stunning private room. With gold wallpaper, four chandeliers, a gold voile screen and browny-gold velvet curtains, it’s only the French who can get away with turning that line up into a classy, elegant and chic private room. Seating up to 18, guests can enjoy the two Michelin starred cuisine in ultimate discretion, as the private dining room is down stairs located by the restaurant’s front door, thereby avoiding the main restaurant altogether.