If you’re looking for conference venues in the UK, then it may not be a straightforward matter. Where to hold your annual company conference, important business meeting or networking event might be open for discussion. If that’s the case, where are the best conference venues in the UK? And which will work most in your favour?
This post takes an in-depth look at conference rooms in London and Manchester to discover where you should hold your next meeting, event or exhibition. Whether you’re wondering why you might rent a meeting room in London or would like to consider the northwest, here’s a comparison of two of the UK’s leading options.
Let’s check out, and compare, Manchester and London as a conference venue.
London vs Manchester as a conference venue
London is a fail-safe choice. As the nation’s capital and the biggest city, there are more London conference venues than anywhere else in the UK. Whether you want to splash out on a big name five star hotel with the wow factor or host a conference on a tight budget, there’s bound to be a place in London that will suit you down to the ground.
Venues in London are second-to-none. You have some of the most luxurious hotels in the world – and lots of budget options are also scattered across the city. Plus everything in-between. As well as hotels, dedicated conference centres can also supply all you need to put on an event with the wow factor.
If you’re out to impress – or beat your rivals – then top hotels like The Savoy, The Dorchester, The Connaught, The Lanesborough, The Ritz and Claridges are world-famous. Their service and levels of luxury are jaw-dropping – and no one will surely forget any event they attended at any of these.
London Transport is also one of the big pluses of holding a conference in this city. There are tubes, buses, mainline trains, trams and even boats to get all your attendees from A to B. Host a meeting, event or conference in London, and your delegates won’t need to do any driving.
If you have people due to attend from far-flung locations, then London is very well placed to receive them. Heathrow airport is one of the world’s busiest, and you can easily reach the city from there via the tube, train or taxi.
London’s other airports – London City, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton and London Southend – also give even more flight options for destinations not served by Heathrow. Then you have the finest taxi drivers in the world at your beck and call.
There’s no better place in the UK when it comes to public transport. Choice, reliability and speed – this city has it all. And you can even travel via the Thames to impress your delegates if you want to.
Driving and parking
However, that can also be a downside. Driving is simply often not an option, due to the lack of parking. Where it is available, it may not be that close to your venue. Or the cost may be eye-watering.
The congestion charge in London is also cripplingly expensive.
- Unparalleled public transport links
- Best choice of venues in the UK
- Famous name hotels
- Parking is a problem
- Travelling can be time-consuming
- Pricey rates as compared to other locations
Manchester in north west England is another popular choice as a conference venue. Transport links are good, parking and walking are more realistic options than they are in London and rates may be cheaper here too.
Add to that the famous Northern friendliness, smart venues with plenty to offer and one of the most vibrant cities in the country and it may seem that Manchester’s got the lot. It’s also easier to reach than London from some locations, particularly those in the north of England or Scotland.
So are there any negatives? Well really it does depend on what you’re looking for. You’re not going to get big name hotels like those in parts of London such as Mayfair, The Strand and Knightsbridge. Although that can be a plus, as you get more luxury for every penny you spend once you venture outside London.
Popular hotels in Manchester include The Lowry, The Midland, The Edwardian, King Street Townhouse and Hotel Gotham. Even Johnny Depp was spotted leaving The Lowry in 2022.
Manchester has an impressive network of public transport links. The city’s trams can take your delegates from the city centre to Salford Quays, for example, and there are several major train stations to arrive at. These are clustered more closely together than in London.
There’s no Underground service here, however. Nor any boats. Buses are OK – but not as clean, efficient and fast as they are in London. Unlike their London counterparts, the cab drivers here don’t have to pass The Knowledge. There are ranks all over the city, however.
Driving in Manchester is more viable than it is in London. However it’s still a big city, so there are all the cons that go with that. Such as slow-moving traffic, bus and cycle lanes, one way systems and pedestrianised areas.
Manchester was also due to introduce a clean air zone in May 2022. However, this didn’t go ahead. A new Greater Manchester Clean Air Plan is in the pipeline, but no firm decisions have been made to date. This may affect future visitors driving into the city centre.
- Lower prices than London
- Easier to get around on foot or by taxi
- Trains and trams are fast, clean and efficient
- Further from south east England
- More limited choice of venues
- No Underground
Which is the best conference venue – London or Manchester?
London cannot be beaten when it comes to world-class hotels, public transport, and sheer choice.
That doesn’t mean, however, that Manchester should lose out. Manchester’s position, lower prices and the fact that it’s a more compact city mean it may be more suitable in many cases.
The choice is yours!