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The Business Traveler North America Award Winners 2023: Destinations

December 1, 2023

World’s Best Meeting Destination

London

ExCeL London, Battersea Power Station Turbine Hall A / Photo: Courtesy of John Sturrock

“Something for everyone” is an overused phrase, but when it comes to London’s convention industry, it’s warranted. If you’re in need of a venue the size of a small town, for instance, you can head to ExCeL London, a million-square-foot riverside colossus. On the opposite end of the scale are the meeting rooms at the (still working) Shaftesbury Theatre, whose rates start at a relatively measly $124 per hour. If it’s the spectacular you’re after, look no further than Battersea Power Station, the iconic 1930s structure that, more recently, has been gutted and fitted with scores of shops, bars, restaurants, entertainment venues and, yes, meeting spaces, the latter of which allow attendees to plan budgets and close deals amid art deco detailing, period control panels and ping-pong tables.

There’s more industrial chic at Tobacco Dock, a former warehouse dating back more than 200 years. Here, you’ll find 50-plus spaces boasting cool high-tech amenities, along with an array of brick arches, decorative ironwork and quayside views. For an entirely different historical spin, the new Raffles London at The OWO offers a range of opulent meeting rooms located in The Old War Office building, where the British government orchestrated the battles of World War II.

Self-expression, too, plays a large part in London’s convention industry. If you want an intimate, elegantly rustic setting, there’s the private-hire Chef’s Table at the Marylebone restaurant Kol. For those who like to make an entrance, there’s the three-story events boat Oceandiva, whose trimmings include a private helipad. And if exclusivity is your thing, the Soho House-like Events Club, due to open in 2024, is members-only and caters to events-industry professionals.

North America’s Best Meeting Destination

Chicago

Chicago / Photo: Courtesy of Roy Johnson/Alamy Stock Photo

The idea that Chicago derived its name from the Potawatomi for “let’s make a deal” may have been debunked, but there’s no denying the city’s historical role as a business powerhouse. From the Gothic Revival grandeur of the Tribune Tower to the imposing bulk of the Willis Tower, Chicago is a physical testament to America’s economic might.

While the boot-legging empires are no more, the city’s enterprising spirit lives on in its convention industry, epitomized by McCormick Place, ranked the largest convention center in the U.S. (with 2.6 million square feet of meeting space) and recently named the country’s second-best venue by The Wall Street Journal. It’s no accident that the Democrats selected Chicago to host their 2024 National Convention.

Best Restaurant Group

Nobu Restaurants

Nobu / Photo: Courtesy of Barbara Kraft

Nobu is known for its extensive menu of dishes created by Nobu Matsuhisa, the man who combined Japanese cuisine with Peruvian ingredients to perfect the “Nobu style” of cooking. Everyone knows Nobu by its classics such as rock-shrimp tempura and black cod miso, dishes that have been widely copied during Nobu’s 30 years in business—which happens to be the most flattering way to compliment a chef. Alongside business partner Robert De Niro, Matsuhisa has expanded the brand, which now includes luxurious hotels, to 56 locations. Chef Matsuhisa’s menus offer many choices of sashimi, noodles and grilled meats. We can’t wait for the next stream of hotels and restaurants, including Nobu Madrid, Nobu Roma, Nobu Bangkok and Nobu New Orleans.