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MEET Portsmouth - Our first hand experience of this Coastal City's Conference & Events scene

A few weeks ago the MEET Beyond London team headed to Portsmouth to discover all that the UK's only island city has to offer to the MICE Markets. Portsmouth is easy to reach, on a direct train line from London Waterloo, taking over just an hour and a half to reach. The city is flat and easy to navigate on foot with three main areas - Gunwharf Quays, Southsea seafront and Portsmouth Guildhall. Today we had the chance to experience six of the city's best venues, tailored for every budget and any scale of events.

Our Experience

Our day started off with a trip to the Portsmouth Guildhall, with a tour that walked us through the history of the venue and its many different conference spaces. We've arrived at the conclusion that the Guildhall is Portsmouth's one-size-fits-all venue. With a theatre that can be re-designed, re-arranged and re-decorated at a moment's notice thanks to their in-house tech team. With a max capacity of 2000 delegates, it's not hard to imagine why it's one of the most sought after spaces in Portsmouth.

  • It's the biggest banquet facility in Portsmouth

  • Great central location, a just a short walk from Portsmouth and Southsea train station.

  • Great historic connections and back story, easy to build a program that uses other Portsmouth university sites which are located around the Guildhall area.

  • Can be fully decked out as a theatre with LED screens and steaming capacity.

  • Pop up bars, full service teams, an in-house chef, in-house kitchen and catering services

Our day was followed with a visit to The Ibis Hotel where we found a hotel that was more than just a place to stay; a treasure trove of opportunities for the conference & events markets. With its bar, breakfast area, and restaurant designed with groups in mind, decorated with a stunning fish tank which adds a relaxing backdrop to any meeting breakout or lunch.

With two small conference rooms the Ibis is a great choice for a small meeting or interview's with its flexibility and central location. With 144 bedrooms, including 35 twin rooms, it is one of the biggest hotels in central Portsmouth. What's more impressive is that the hotel offers competitive rates starting from £60 when booked in advance, making it a favourite choice for budget-conscious event organisers.

Being just 500 metres from Portsmouth & Southsea train station, accessibility has never been easier when planning with the Ibis.

From the Ibis Hotel we travelled to the Queens Hotel - Where events shine like royalty. The Queens Hotel is the epitome of elegance and luxury, making it a fantastic choice for weddings, celebrations, and private dining events. Their event manager, Divina, ensures that every event is seamlessly organised. The hotels seafront location and easy access to Palmerston Road, with its collection of bars, restaurants and shops make it the perfect choice if your delegates need time to explore the city.

The hotel's interest in creating itinerary-style days ensures that guests experience the best of Portsmouth. With its 73 rooms and a garden that hosts live music sessions on Sundays, the Queens Hotel has a unique charm that sets it apart from others.

Next we headed to Portsmouth University - Where innovation meets functionality. Portsmouth University is not only a centre of learning but also a hub for exceptional events. Rees Hall, located on the seafront, with its 200+ rooms, is perfect for accommodating large groups when staying for a summer convention such as kite flyers and choir groups. With over 2.5k rooms in total the university has the most accommodation space in the city during the summer months.

The university's upcoming £250 million building, complete with a restaurant and event space on the top floor, promises to be a standout venue in the future. For event organisers seeking top-notch facilities and technology, Portsmouth University's cutting-edge equipment and advanced tech make it an ideal choice.

Just a short walk away from the university is the Spinnaker Tower - Reaching new heights in event hosting. Located in Gunwharf Quays, with its striking architecture and breath-taking views, The Spinnaker Tower is both a must-see attraction, but also a awesome venue for your next event. Difficult to miss, standing proud at the entrance to Portsmouth Harbour, it is great for networking drinks, private dining and weddings. The newly opened Sky Bar also offers a great place for your delegates to enjoy a cocktail or two. Welcoming up to 50 guests. there is special provision for blind and deaf individuals, promoting inclusivity like no other venue. The tower's partnership with Macmillan in raising funds adds a noble touch to any event hosted here. If you are looking to wow your attendees, this is the venue for you. It's a location that's hard to pass on.

Just around the corner from Gunwharf Quays is Portsmouth Historic Dockyards home to the world famous HMS Victory, HMS Warrior 1860 and Mary Rose, King Henry VIII's warship. This is the place to go for nautical grandeur and memorable events. Step aboard history itself at HMS Warrior and HMS Victory, two of Portsmouth's iconic historic vessels. HMS Warrior offers an unforgettable experience, with its upper deck ideal for drinks receptions and an onboard capacity of 400+. On the other hand, HMS Victory offers a grandiose setting on the Quarterdeck. Both venues are fully accessible and offer an unparalleled ambiance for exclusive events that guests will cherish for a lifetime.

Looking for thrilling experiences for your delegates or to host an event with a cinematic impact? Look no further than Action Stations, also within Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. The auditorium can accommodate up to 250+ people, complete with a massive big-screen setup and the high-tech Horizon's space catering to 100+ people for a dinner dance. The venue provides an adrenaline-fueled experience for corporate events with both laser quest and indoor wall-climbing both on site. Whether you want an action-packed event or a high-tech showcase, Action Stations has got you covered.

The Mary Rose offers the chance for delegates to visit the stunning Mary Rose museum as part of an event. With an upper deck buffet & dinner capacity of up to 150 guests this offers guest the unique opportunity to overlook this historic ship whilst being wined and dined. For intimate meetings The Wardroom offers privacy and complimentary tea & coffee within this unique venue.

Portsmouth offers an impressive array of venues for the MICE market, each with its unique attributes and charm. Event planners have an array of choices in Portsmouth, creating memorable experiences for their attendees, The MEET Beyond London team would like to thank Visit Portsmouth team and the venue representatives for taking the time to show us around their unforgettable venues.

If we can help put you in touch with any of the venues here or with the Visit Portsmouth team please do not hesitate to contact us.

Happy planning!


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