With enviable decor and a long list of perks, private dining rooms are more desirable than ever. Here are the ones to book around the UK
Words: Lucy Frith
A friend’s birthday dinner recently was, I thought, the perfect opportunity for good food, flowing cocktails and a decent catch-up. But after several shoves in the back from the too-close-for-comfort neighbouring table and rowdy behaviour overspilling from the bar, I found myself wondering why we didn’t just stay at home and order in. The trouble is, a takeaway duck chow mein eaten from a lap tray hardly screams ‘special occasion’. Which may be why so many of us are booking the latest trend in town: the private dining room.
Restaurants up and down the country are introducing exclusive, Instagrammable private rooms set apart from the main restaurant to meet diners’ increasing desire for a unique experience. “In the last year we’ve seen a real increase in bookings for personal events,” says Sylvia Kontek, owner of Provençal restaurant Bandol in London’s Chelsea. “A private space, with beautiful decor, allows the host to relax knowing their guests are being looked after, without having to lift a finger.” While some restaurants expect a minimum spend of up to £2,500, others offer private rooms from £30 per person.
No wonder a recent study revealed a stark rise in diners eating out. The average Briton now spends a quarter of their annual salary on dining out, according to Open Table. As the team at London’s The Modern Pantry point out, “People see dining as an experience. Private dining plays into this – they want to enjoy a long night without being disturbed or disturbing others.”
But what does private dining involve? Some places offer a cocktail on arrival, bespoke menus and a visit from the chef, while others will allow you to choose the playlist and arrange a private sommelier to match wines to your meal.
So put down the lap tray and book the most luxurious dining experience of the moment with Stylist’s suggestions for the perfect private room. All you need to do now is draft that dream dinner-party guest list…
20-22 King St, Manchester, M2
Your room: This low-lit and contemporary dining room can house up to 21 guests without any stuffy formality. Think exposed brick, bookcases, quirky lights and comfy seating.
Your menu: Classic dishes with a cryptic twist (duck with roast turnips and ‘hen of the woods’), mouthwatering desserts such as rhubarb, pistachio and ginger nut. Or try the eight-course taster menu (including stone bass with miso and seaweed).
Little extras: Larger parties will be allocated a private party planner, dedicated waiter and sommelier. Plus the chef will pay you a visit at the start of each course to explain the dishes.
The bill: £50 per person for three courses. Weekend bookings require a minimum number of 16 guests per party.
Guaranteed to: Challenge your taste buds with some unique flavours.
Bob Bob Ricard
1 Upper James St, London, W1F
Your room: The Orient Express meets Golden Age glamour at this iconic Soho restaurant. The glitzy private room was created by legendary interior designer David Collins and is modelled on a royal train carriage. It’s guaranteed to make up to 16 guests feel very special indeed.
Your menu: Posh comfort food including beef wellington or chicken, mushroom and champagne pie.
Little extras: Dedicated service, ambient music, the renowned à la carte menu plus a ‘press for champagne’ button. They take bookings up to three months in advance, so get in quick.
The bill: £50-60 per head, minimum spend of £1,000.
Guaranteed to: Have you googling paint colours so you can emulate the look at home.
The Salt Room
106 King’s Rd, Brighton, BN1
Your room: If your dream dining room overlooks the ocean then this understated-yet-elegant private space is perfect for you. With curtains to close off the main restaurant, up to 14 people can enjoy a private sea view in Brighton’s popular modern seafood and grill restaurant.
Your menu: Enjoy coal-roasted scallops with black garlic and bacon, then whole bream with Thai spices, cashews and chilli or black Angus rib-eye steak.
Little extras: Choose a custom menu to cater for your guests’ needs and enjoy dedicated waiter service.
The bill: Minimum spend depends on the day with prices from £30-£70 per person.
Guaranteed to: Provide fresh food from the sea while you’re actually looking at it.
42 Albemarle Street, London, W1S
Your room: With a reputation for glossy surroundings and Michelin-starred Indian fare, Gymkhana offers cosy and decadent private dining booths with red leather banquettes and glass wall lamps from Jaipur, accommodating 10-15 guests.
Your menu: Seven courses of classic and contemporary Indian cuisine with a focus on boldly spiced sharing dishes. The paneer tikka, cashew nut and corn chat is a stand-out dish as is the wild muntjac biryani, pomegranate and mint raita.
Little extras: Create a bespoke menu and Gymkhana’s expert sommelier will pair wines to suit.
The bill: The seven-course tasting menu is £75 per person.
Guaranteed to: Change your concept of ‘a curry with friends’ forever.
The Langham, 1C Portland Place, Regent Street, London, W1B
Your room: Set in the opulent grandeur of The Langham hotel, Postillion is the kind of private room where you can’t help but channel your inner Lady Mary. Host an unforgettable banquet for up to 18 guests with a menu devised by chefs at the hotel’s restaurant Roux at The Landau. Enjoy large windows, high ceilings and seriously good food.
Your menu: Expect classic French cuisine, with menus by Albert and Michel Roux Jr, which include moreish dishes such as Dover sole grenobloise, herb butter and clams, saffron risotto with pickled walnuts and a pistachio soufflé.
Little extras: Your own private events coordinator will tailor the decor, music and menus to your tastes. Bonus Insta-points.
The bill: Set menus cost from £62 per person. Minimum spend of £1,500-£2,000 for the group.
The Curious Treasury
The Happenstance, London, EC4
Your room: On a separate lower floor, this stunning space is closed off from the main restaurant. It can seat up to 60 in the room and up to 30 on the long table and even has parquet wood ceilings, which add a cosy feel.
Your menu: The chef will create a custom menu for you and your guests with British classics such as roast cod with confit garlic mash or sirloin steak with chips.
Little extras: The tables can be arranged to your specification and you can bring your own playlist – there’s enough room to dance your dinner off too.
The bill: Minimum spend ranges from £500-£1,000 depending on the day.
Guaranteed to: Make you forget you’re in a restaurant.
The Music Room
Andina, 1 Redchurch Street, London, E2
Your room: Designed by Peruvian architect Jack Schneider, this spacious dining room at the back of Ceviche’s Martin Morales’ new restaurant Andina in Shoreditch has an installation of 2,000 seven-inch vintage vinyl singles, creating a unique backdrop for 22 guests.
Your menu: Choose from a selection of feasting menus offering Peruvian dishes such as pulpo chancón (grilled octopus) with a pisco sour or three.
Little extras: A dedicated waiter, quirky decor and you can plug your iPod into the room’s music system.
The bill: From £30 per person.
Guaranteed to: Have you searching for Peruvian tunes to add to your playlist.
Amber Restaurant and Whisky Vault
354 Castehill, Edinburgh, EH1
Your room: Award-winning Amber houses the 10-seater Vault surrounded by the world’s largest collection of Scotch.
Your menu: A bespoke five-course Scottish menu by the executive head chef. Think haggis bon bons, Scottish sea trout with Mull Cheddar glaze and Scottish raspberries with cranachan, each expertly paired with the perfect Scotch by the whisky sommelier.
Little extras: A dedicated team (including event host), choice of music, cocktail on arrival and a wee dram with dessert.
The bill: £175 per person.
Guaranteed to: Provide a full Scottish dining experience that you won’t forget (kilts optional).
The London Carriage Works
40 Hope Street, Liverpool, L1
Your room: An airy space with unparalleled city views for up to 120 guests. Smaller groups will have room to dance the night away to your chosen playlist.
Your menu: Modern, internationally inspired cuisine. The battered halloumi, honey-roasted figs and torched ewe’s cheese is understandably popular, along with the Cumbrian air-dried ham.
Little extras: Choose your music, decorate the room and enjoy 360 degree city views.
The bill: From £70 per person including room hire and three courses (minimum of 30 guests).
Guaranteed to: Offer great views, beautiful decor and some of the best food in Liverpool.