Business Design Centre – Where to eat, drink & sleep
Visiting Design Business Centre – Restaurants, Bars, Hotels and More
The Business Design Centre is one of the most reputable conference centres in the whole of the UK, staging over 250 events annually, and welcoming over 900,000 visitors. Located in Islington, London, it is just a short distance from the Angel tube stop, and 10 minutes from Kings Cross St. Pancras train station. The BDC has a long and deepened history with it opening in 1862, named the Royal Agricultural Hall, inspired by the Crystal Palace. Its original purpose was holding agricultural shows, but after many years of expansions, hiatuses, and eventually redevelopments, the Business Design Centre became renamed and reborn in 1986. Princess Diana had the privilege to open the doors to huge numbers for the first-ever New Designers Exhibition, which showcased design work from graduate students, with none more famous than Stella McCartney who stole the show in 1996. The 1999 BAFTA show, Tony Blair headlining a CBI conference and the home of the Czech Olympic House for the London Olympics have been some of the conference centres’ most memorable moments in history.
The venue can cater for many events with a mezzanine occupying the most space, accompanied by gallery bays, auditorium halls, and executive centres. You are probably reading this if you have been invited to attend a conference, exhibition, or banquet and are in need of a helping hand. In a bustling area of London, there is no end to hotels, restaurants, pubs, bars and cafes to keep you refreshed and entertained during your time at the BDC. However, with so much choice, and competition, it’s hard to differentiate the good, and not-so-good places, so I’ve done that for you. Here are my personal selections for you to fittingly spend your time in Islington for the morning, day, night and beyond.
Restaurants and Cafes
Coffee, Breakfast/Brunch (£-££)
Getting your morning’s supply of coffee can be simply made by going to the local Café Nero but fancying a breakfast to remember? Head to the Breakfast Club in Angel, just a two-minute walk from the venue. ‘Today is going to be a good day…’ is their motto, so for some good vibes ahead of a pulsating day, enjoy the coffee and extensive breakfast and brunch menu that includes pancakes that can be topped with eggs, sausage, bacon, maple syrup, and more! If eating your daily calorie intake before noon isn’t quite for you, then head to Kobo Café, which has a near-perfect rating on Trip Advisor, providing healthy and organic breakfast options. The speciality coffees coincide with teas, snacks and cakes – mostly free from gluten and lactose – to give you a vigorous start to the day.
For total convenience, a mention has to go to Jack’s and The Skinny Kitchen, situated within the BDC, on the top floor. Fresh food is being offered from morning until late afternoon, with a unique menu selection every day for the former, and a varied menu for the latter. You won’t be disappointed with either choice if you plan to stay on-site.
Lunch and Dinner Options (£-£££)
The Business Design Centre has countless restaurants nearby, meaning you are spoilt for choice and don’t have to use public transport or a taxi to get there. Though with so much choice, comes hesitancy, and confusion, so I’ll try to simplify your options. Like meat? Then meet our first two options that are Comedor Grill & Bar and MeatLiquor. The former has a huge menu with many favourites, but the reputation of the place has been built because it truly is the king of steaks. That is why it won OpenTable’s Diner Choice in 2016 and still is within London’s top 500 restaurants on Trip Advisor. The MeatLiquor may not have steaks to compete with them, but it certainly puts up a fight with their US-style Hot Dogs and Burgers range. Don’t like meat? Then MeatLiquor also started to include a vegan/vegetarian range, that includes mock-chicken seitan fingers, halloumi mushroom burgers, and a plant-based chilli dog. If you are put off by the carnivores, then head down the road to The Gate, which is a vegetarian restaurant, with many options available for vegans. Thai Curries, Mushroom Risotto, and Shiitake Gyozas are ones to ponder for the main course, but the real delight awaits as they present a completely vegan dessert menu.
My next pick is BabaBoom, a specialised kebab restaurant that certainly isn’t lacking any va va voom. Inspired by travelling to Istanbul, the owners started up BabaBoom which is a small cosy takeout place with a small seating area that provides delicious, spicy and valuable food such as falafel, chicken, sweet potato, beef, and chargrilled cauliflower in kebab form. Finally, for easy lunchtime options, the instantly recognizable Wahaca (burritos), and Five Guys (burgers), are available next door to the Business Design Centre.
The Pick of the Bunch (££-££££)
The previous choices were all great options, but the restaurant royalty in the Islington/Angel area remains in my next four picks – the fantastic four, you could say. Fredericks Restaurant is a family-run business since 1969, that brings elegance and sophistication to your dining experience. The a la carte menu includes poached smoked haddock, organic chargrilled breast, and slow-cooked lamb shoulders. Its direct competitor, Salut!, can go toe to toe with mains such as braised Pork Belly, Israeli cous cous, and striploin, but they offer at a slightly more affordable price, but not due to a lack of quality. For an unconventional take on fine dining, head to 1251, by chef James Cohran. The British-style tapas restaurant will stretch your imagination, and fascinate you in ways other restaurants cannot fathom. Last, but certainly not least for seafood fans, Prawn on the Lawn gives you the best fresh fish dishes. You’ll have never experienced true seafood like this in London, with lobsters, oysters, scallops and other options all delightfully presented with immaculate taste.
“You’ve been walking around London, and you found The Bar With No Name. Then you’ll feel good to be out of the rain. La la la la…” Okay, you get the reference (or maybe not). I’ll start off with this cocktail bar which is under a minute’s walk from the conference venue. Due to its rather small size, I’d avoid it later on in the night, or on the night leading to the weekend, but if you get a chance to go, don’t give it a miss. Marrying the impeccable service with its classy atmosphere, this bar has really made its name. For more of an American vibe, head to Slim Jim’s Liquor Store, for premier whisky and American craft beers, and happy hours favours the early birds (before 10 pm on Mondays). Want to keep it British? Then the Old Queen’s Head is just for you, with an unbelievable décor inside. The spectacular setting may persuade you to come to pay a visit, but in addition, it has a karaoke room and a live performance area with top-class bands and DJs performing. The Earl of Essex around the corner is just like your local, with a vast amount of craft beers and real ales available at affordable prices. Finally, for the wine connoisseurs, Humble Grape has an establishment in Islington. You won’t be able to gripe at this place, with it providing over 400 organic and sustainable wines for excellent value.
Budget Options (£-££)
The word ‘budget’ doesn’t necessarily exist in this part of London, and finding a valuable night’s stay is in itself, a mission. If you are attending a conference and your company is providing you accommodation, then problem solved, but if you are arranging your own and want to keep the costs to a minimum, then check out my following options. Cheapest first, the Travelodge London Kings Cross Royal Scot is a 15-minute walk away from the Business Design Centre, and gives you a straightforward service, with comfortable beds at affordable prices. Due to expectations being fairly low, you shouldn’t be left wanting more. For upgraded rooms, Wi-Fi and to be conveniently located next door to the venue, then pay that extra bit of cash to stay at the Premier Inn London Angel Islington, instead. Another ‘does what it says on the tin’ hotel is the EasyHotel on Old Street/Barbican, which is excellent value for money, if you are just in need of staying in a basic room. Finally, new to the area, and still within most people’s budget, is nhow London which offers artistically furnished rooms, exquisite breakfasts, and an on-site pub and bar.
Top of The Range (£££-££££)
Hilton and DoubleTree by Hilton are two hotels situated in the heart of the area, meaning you can access the BDC two minutes after shutting your luxurious bedroom door. The room space is more than adequate, the service is flawless, and the beds are incredibly comfy, meaning you’ll get a peaceful sleep after a hard day’s work’. Want something with a bit more character? The fabulously funky boutique hotel Malmaison London has all the right cards on the deck, with a lovely lobby/area, with admirably decorated and expansive rooms. For my final two recommendations, we have a real fight on our hands because in one corner you have St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, and in the other Pullman London St Pancras. Over 4,000 reviews on Trip Advisor for both, and they both remain to have an almost-perfect rating from the pickiest of people. The buildings themselves are masterpieces, with 5-star facilities, and elegant rooms for you to relax in. Over £200 a night is hard to justify, but at least these two hotels give it their best shot.
Due to its location, the Business Design Centre can be the core of your trip but doesn’t have to be everything. Feel free to extend your stay, and you can visit so many fantastic attractions nearby. Have a brill time in the lively area of The Angel. Thank you for reading.
Aside from sleeping, drinking and eating, do use your trip to the Business Design Centre to explore the best of London, with all the key tourist attractions, galleries, museums, parks, and so much more in the palm of your hand. Have a blast.
If you’re organising an event at the Business Design Centre, we are an event registration company that provides event organisers with event registration solutions and award-winning service. Contact us to see how we can help you put on your best event yet!