If you want your training event to be truly memorable, then using a venue with character helps. From old monasteries and castles, to state-of-the-art training centres and hunting lodges, we have selected eight training venues that are a little bit different.
Wilton Park, Steyning, West Sussex
Facilities: The main conference room takes up to 80 people boardroom-style and 100 theatre-style. Video-conferencing and simultaneous interpretation equipment are available.
Parking: 80 spaces.
Accommodation: 49 bedrooms on site – 21 in the main house and 28 in converted outer buildings.
Dinner menu: The Sussex beef from the farm next door is recommended.
Rate: 24-hour rate is £175 per person.
What’s special about its character?The core building of Wilton Park is Elizabethan but it was formally established as a meetings venue after an initiative inspired by Winston Churchill to re-establish post-war peace and democracy in Europe. It has a mile-long drive and sits in the middle of 5,000 acres of parkland. “Our setting and facilities would be enough to motivate the people who train here as they provide an immediate and lasting impression,” says director of finance and management Tim Willows.
Royal College of Physicians, Regent’s Park, London
Facilities: 19 meeting rooms, two-tiered lecture theatres seating 140 and 300, and reception facilities for up to 350 guests. AV equipment, such as plasma screens, laptops and laser pointers.
Parking: Limited, but there is a pay-and-display NCP car park nearby.
Accommodation: The college is a non-residential property but a range of hotels are within walking distance.
Dinner menu: Includes steamed courgette flower filled with crab meat, roast rack of Exmoor lamb with spiced potatoes and pear tartin.
Rate:£72 per person (excluding VAT).
What’s special about its character?Today’s award-winning modernist building sits on the site of the oldest medical college in England, setting standards in medicine since 1518. Numerous rare treasures are on display throughout, including medical artefacts, portraits and a collection of more than 50,000 printed books dating back to the earliest days of printing. “Clients who organise training here confirm that our atmosphere – as one of the country’s most historic centres of learning –is a positive reinforcement of their efforts,” says Royal College Physicians’ general manager Clive Ostler.
Missenden Abbey, Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire
Facilities: A main conference room that holds 100 people theatre-style, and two syndicate rooms. Wireless broadband and large-screen data projector available.
Parking: 100 spaces and 24-hour CCTV security.
Accommodation: 57 en-suite, study bedrooms equipped with Sky television and free broadband internet access.
Dinner menu: Includes baked goats cheese tartlet, fillet of beef with asparagus and boursin, and mango and passion fruit delice.
Rate:The overnight rate is £165 per person and includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.
What’s special about its character?Originally founded as a monastery in 1133, much of Missenden’s fine religious stonework is integrated into the fabric of the modern building. Its 10-acre gardens are listed by English Heritage. Seasonal delights include a famed snowdropwalk and a daffodil river. “Our heritage is one of privacy, calm and peaceful study, and we have managed to retain those advantages while embracing the technology of the 21st century,” says centre director Steve Crawford.
Loch Ness Lodge, Inverness, Scotland
Facilities: One meeting room that holds 30 people theatre-style and 18 boardroom-style. Wi-fi throughout and standard AV equipment offered.
Parking: 10-12 spaces.
Accommodation: Seven double bedrooms and five five-star cottages a short distance from the lodge, which could sleep an additional 14 guests sharing.
Dinner menu: Seared scallops, fennel consommé, loin of lamb with a leek, mushroom,and pearl barley risotto, rhubarb and stem ginger parfait.
Rate: £360 per person including dinner and all the works.
What’s special about its character?Few places are as atmospheric as Loch Ness and this retreat in the heart of the Scottish Highlands offers majestic views across its enigmatic expanse. The lodge opened earlier this summer and brings together traditional Scottish architecture with contemporary design to create a luxurious venue.
Hitchin Priory, Hitchin, Hertfordshire
Facilities: The venue has capacity for 200 delegates in the summer and 90 in the winter, and offers free internet access and all standard AV kit.
Parking: 70 spaces.
Accommodation: 61 bedrooms (12 singles and 49 doubles).
Dinner menu: Includes deep-fried brie, sausages with a swede and potato mash, and apple pie with fresh cream.
Rate: 24-hour rates starts at £135 per person (excluding VAT).
What’s special about its character?Set in 19 acres of grounds, Hitchin Priory started life as a Carmelite Monastery in 1317 and has hosted many royal guests over the years.Conference rooms are named after previous owners and residents and there are strikingly decorated rooms for private functions. “Many of the people who train here tell us how the sense of tradition and permanence and the serenity of the environment are positive factors for them,” says general manager Emily Rogers.
The Moller Centre, Cambridge
Facilities: 24 meeting rooms of various capacities, including a lecture theatre that holds 98 people. A study centre opened in August with magnetic white walls, built-in data projectors, and audio and video relay and production.
Parking: 165 free spaces.
Accommodation: 67 en-suite rooms.
Dinner menu: Includes smoked salmon terrine, baked red snapper and raspberry and passion fruit bavarois.
Rate: The 24-hour rate is £185 per person (excluding VAT).
What’s special about its character?Scandinavian design comes to Cambridge creating a venue that is flooded with natural light. The result is a spacious, calm and contemporary layout, conducive to concentration, learning and innovation. Set in 42 acres of parkland, the dominating element of the centre is an octagonal tower housing the restaurant, bar and roof terrace with a view over the Cambridge skyline.
Warbrook House and Grange, Eversley, Hampshire
Facilities: Eight meeting rooms, 23 syndicate rooms with a capacity for 327 people. Overhead projector, LCD screens, speakers, and flip charts available.
Parking: 150 spaces.
Accommodation: 74 rooms.
Dinner menu: Includes fennel and ginger soup, bacon-wrapped chicken and mint choc-chunk cheesecake.
Rate: From £168-172 per person (excluding VAT).
What’s special about its character?Delegates get the best of both worlds as the venue offers two buildings – one old, one modern. The 17th-century mansion house has panelled rooms, traditional fireplaces, and large bay windows with seating, while the restaurant overlooks a private canal. The Grange was constructed in 1996, in the style of a farmhouse and is a purpose-built venue offering a relaxed, informal, atmosphere ideal for training.
Peckforton Castle, Cheshire
Facilities: Capacity for 350 people with the largest room holding up to 200. Data projection screens and Wi-fiavailable.
Parking: 400 spaces.
Accommodation: 38 rooms, including five executive suites.
Dinner menu: A la carte menu includes rib-eye steak, lamb, and vegetarian options.
Rate:24-hour rate is £155 per person (excluding VAT). Day rate is £55 (excluding VAT).
What’s special about its character?Although the castle was built in 1851, the building is Grade1 listed and recognised as a true representation of a medieval castle. Peckforton stands atop a wooded hillside offering dramatic views across the Cheshire Plains, while its vast grounds offer the chance for numerous teambuilding events, from 4×4 driving to falconry. The venue is renowned for its medieval banquets, where delegates can dress in period costumes before taking their seat in the castle’s Great Hall, which can cater for up to 120 people.