Harrogate is one of only a handful of towns of its size that have earned the right to appear in this slot of The Business Travel Magazine.
That’s because this historic Yorkshire spa town – located to the north of Bradford and Leeds and to the west of York – has carved out a post-war niche for itself as a major meetings and events destination.
This is due, in no small part, to the presence of one of the UK’s most impressive event venues, the Harrogate International Centre (HIC). Opened in 1982 and host of that year’s Eurovision Song Contest, the venue is comprised of a multitude of rooms, halls and auditoriums, two of which are featured here.
But it’s not all about the HIC, for this famous old spa town of green spaces and café-lined streets also has a good selection of boutique and budget hotels and unusual venues in which to conduct business.
Name: The Royal Hall, Harrogate International Centre
Address: King’s Road, Harrogate, HG1 5LA
Tel: 01423 537474
A stone’s throw from Harrogate International Centre’s main auditorium, the impressive Royal Hall has been painstakingly restored to its original splendour and offers the ideal backdrop to sophisticated banquets and memorable conferences. The Edwardian venue was reopened in 2008 by HRH Prince Charles following a £10.7million restoration programme that used over 112,000 sheets of 23.5 carat gold and took more than 37,000 man-hours to complete – and the results are impressive. The Royal Hall is now a highly flexible events space with capacity for up to 1,000 delegates for conferences, 300 for banquets, 600 for standing buffets and 850 for receptions. Catering is taken care of by on-site partner Kudos Hospitality.
Name: The Pump Room Museum
Address: Crown Place, Harrogate, HG1 2RY
Tel: 01423 556188
Among Harrogate’s more unusual venues making itself available for corporate hire is The Royal Pump Room Museum. Better suited to corporate receptions than meetings, the Pump House can be hired with curatorial staff to give guests an insight into Harrogate’s legacy as a spa town, including a visit to the strongest sulphur wells in Europe which 15,000 people used to visit every summer. Venue hire is currently priced at £400 for 5pm-10pm or from £3.75 per person per hour for groups of 20 to 100 guests.
NEW KID ON THE BLOCK
Name: The Balmoral Hotel
Address: Franklin Mount, Harrogate, HG1 5EJ
Tel: 01423 508208
By no means a new addition to Harrogate’s meetings and accommodation portfolio, it is the Balmoral’s impressive refurbishment project some 18 months ago that qualifies this boutique hotel for the New Kid on the Block category. A member of luxury hotel directory Mr & Mrs Smith, the Balmoral is in fact a 100-year-old York stone building located a short walk from the centre of Harrogate. A comprehensive makeover encompassed facelifts for the foyer, bar and guestrooms and gave birth to a new restaurant and cocktail bar, Grille, along with a private meeting and dining room for up to 25 guests, complete with wifi internet access. Tailor-made menus are offered for private groups, while the hotel’s 20 guestrooms are all en-suite and include touches such as Molton Brown toiletries, designer wallpaper and handmade quilts.
ON A SHOESTRING
Name: Premier Inn Harrogate
Address: Hornbeam Park Avenue, Harrogate, HG28RA
Tel: 08701 977126
With some 600 hotels across the UK and Ireland, travel bookers on a budget can normally rely on a Premier Inn being nearby. In Harrogate, the group’s solitary hotel is on the town’s periphery by the Hornbeam business park and Hornbeam Park train station, though there’s another ten miles away at Leeds Bradford International Airport and a clutch of more Premier Inns in both York and Leeds. Back to the group’s Harrogate hotel, though, where there’s free parking, a meeting room for up to 18 delegates, wifi internet access and a Table Table restaurant for full and continental breakfasts, light snacks, drinks and evening meals. Online room rates are from £39.
Name: The Main Auditorium, Harrogate International Centre
Address: King’s Road, Harrogate, HG1 5LA
Tel: 01423 537 474
It may come as a surprise, but Harrogate International Centre is the UK’s second largest integrated conference and exhibition centre, offering 16,500 square metres of show space across eight halls – and that’s before a £13million project adds a further 3,400 square metres by 2012. Alongside the vast exhibition space is the hi-tech auditorium with seating capacity for up to 2,000 delegates, or 1,500 if a larger stage is required. The venue comes complete with its own foyer, green room, VIP facilities, seminar rooms and interpretation facilities, as well as a technical specifications that include climate control, motorised suspension bars, 16 by 12 foot projection screen and projector, a rigging grid, myriad lighting options and controls, 48-channel sound system, Meyer PA system, multiple microphone options, and minidisc, cassette, CD and MP3 players/recorders, plus an inhouse technical team.
SMALL BUT PERFECTLY FORMED
Name: Hotel du Vin
Address: Prospect Place, Harrogate, HG1 1LB
Tel: 01423 856800
Harrogate’s Hotel du Vin, one of a 15-strong boutique brand, occupies a row of eight Georgian houses and comprises 48 guestrooms and loft suites, a bistro restaurant, bar, a cellar snug, two private meeting rooms and, this being a spa town, there are five treatment rooms and a range of massages and beauty services on offer. The ground floor Abbey Well meeting room overlooks a rear courtyard and features bespoke artwork and ornate mirrors, while the L-shaped Henley Vineyards room overlooks the Stray, a 200-acre common created in 1778 by an act of Parliament and containing many of Harrogate’s famous mineral springs. Facilities include complimentary wifi internet access, LCD projectors and videoconferencing technology. A day rate of £60 per person includes room hire, drinks, snacks and two-course lunch, while a 24-hour rate of £190pp includes double room, cooked breakfast and three-course dinner.