WATERLAND: The five-star, 281-room Royal Horseguards Hotel sits on the River Thames.
built in 1770 and later named for the first Duke of Wellington, who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, and, across the road, Apsley House, which Wellington and his family once called home. Lunch was at the five-star, 281-room Royal Horseguards Hotel, on the banks of the River Thames. Connected to the property are 14 meeting rooms at One Whitehall Place, the largest of which is the Gladstone Library, which can accommodate up to 350 guests for a reception. That evening, our group was treated to a performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s new production of “The Wizard of Oz” at the Palladium Theatre in London’s West End. The next morning, in the care of Norman
The Best of Britain G
ETTING FROM LONDON HEATHROW Airport to the city of London is a snap, as I discovered during a press trip to the
United Kingdom — sponsored by Visit Britain — on March 13–21. After landing at Heathrow, I took the smooth, hassle-free Heathrow Express train to London’s Paddington Station. Then it was just a quick cab ride to the five-star Grosvenor House, A JW Marriott Hotel, across from Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens. Built in 1929, the grand, 420-room hotel com-
pleted a £120-million renovation in September 2008 and became a JW Marriott (the only one in the U.K., and only the second in Europe). The property offers more than 43,000 square feet of event space spread over 26 meeting rooms, including the Great Room, one of Europe’s larg- est hotel meeting spaces, which can seat 2,000 people for a banquet dinner. I also took the opportunity to swing by the
brand-new W London – Leicester Square, the U.K.’s first W hotel. A friendly sales team account manager showed me around the glamorous, 192-room property, including its two small meet- ing rooms, Studio 1 and Studio 2, and 39-seat, high-tech Screening Room. The next day, our group toured historic London landmarks, including Wellington Arch,
Allen Group Travel, we set off for Birmingham. Along the way, we stopped off at Windsor Castle and, for lunch, a traditional English pub called the Bladebone Inn. That evening we checked in to the 790-room Hilton Birmingham Metropole hotel, adjacent to the National Ex- hibition Centre (NEC), a 21-hall behemoth with more than two million square feet of exhibition space. On Thursday evening, we made the one- hour trip to Stratford-upon-Avon, William Shake- speare’s hometown, for a stellar production of “Romeo and Juliet” at the newly renovated Royal Shakespeare Theatre. On Friday morning, we took a train to
Glasgow, where we visited the chic, 100-room Blythswood Square hotel, whose largest meet- ing space is the 1,140-square-foot Monte Car- lo Suite (divisible into three separate rooms). The stylish boutique property is just 1.6 miles from the Scottish Exhibition + Conference Centre (SECC), Scotland’s top meeting facility, with 240,000 square feet of flexible space. Our last two days in the U.K., Saturday and
THIS IS ENGLAND: From the top — Strat- ford-upon-Avon’s newly renovated Royal Shake- speare Theatre; “The Wizard of Oz” at Lon- don’s Palladium Theatre.
Sunday, were spent traveling to and touring Scotland’s rugged, picturesque Isle of Arran (ac- cessible by ferry), where we visited the 64-room Auchrannie Resort, which can host a 100-dele- gate meeting, and stayed at the Kildonan Hotel, a small bed-and-breakfast on Arran’s wind- swept southern tip. Before dinner on Saturday, a striking sunset brought us rushing out of our rooms, for a fitting farewell to a leisurely visit. n — Hunter R. Slaton