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Nice to meet you

Got a deal to close? You can get to yes quicker with the right venue

Want your meeting to go well? Choose the right venue. Image matters and what will a cramped, dingy space say about yours? Exactly.

Happily, the capital is well-served with meeting-room options, whether it’s a formal boardroom you need to project gravitas, a high-tech presentation to wow an audience, or a secluded spot perfect for the kind of discreet tête-à-tête you’d rather the boss didn’t hear about.

As with all meetings, the first thing you've got to do is to establish your objectives. If what you want is to showcase your business as innovative and entrepreneurial, check out Dogpatch Labs in the CHQ building at Custom House Quay. Not only has it got the infectious dynamism of all those wannabe unicorns upstairs, it's also the beating heart of the city's fintech ecosystem.

But while it’s all glass and smart tech upstairs, down in the basement are beautiful 200-year-old vaults which have been redeveloped to include a 100-seater theatre, three boardrooms, three meetings rooms and a breakout space. And in a welcome nod to its previous incarnation as a wine and whiskey store, there’s a bar on tap if you need it.


Or get out of the city and into the suburban oasis that is the Airfield Estate. A few minute’s drive from the city in Dundrum, it has the benefit of feeling like a classic away-day rural retreat, without actually being one.

By a quirk of the universe, the 38-acre estate, surrounded on all sides by housing, managed to get through various property booms intact. The result is that today it is Dublin’s last remaining working farm. As well as a popular family visitor attraction, it has a multi-purpose meeting space called The Hive, which is perfect for off-site meetings and corporate events. And if there’s a lull in the negotiations, you can always point out that the food served up at break time was grown right outside. It’s farm to, well, farm.

Mansion House

Or give yourself the best address in the city and book yourself into the Mansion House. If you’ve a gala dinner to organise, the Round Room and Supper Room are hard to top for atmosphere. But there are a total of six versatile and flexible spaces at the Dawson Street property, catering for events from seven to 700. These include new additions such as its luxurious Glass Room Suites and Private Sun Terrace, overlooking the Lord Mayor’s Garden. Maybe you’ll see him hanging out his washing.

If it’s a case of go big or go home, you can’t get much bigger than the Aviva Stadium, which comes with a similarly sized wow factor. It has a great reception area in the Atrium, and a range of conference suites around the property that manage to pull off the twin feat of being both cavernous yet cosy, and so well wired for sound that you won’t miss a syllable, unless you want to, which is what earphones are for.

A terrific option for large-scale events which require the inevitable smorgasbord of break-out meetings, the bonus with the Aviva is that you’ll be as fit as any player on the pitch below by the time you reach them – the distances are huge.

To introduce a spiritual dimension to your business tourism event, not to mention a historic one, check out Christ Church Cathedral. Yes it's a bit left-field but as the oldest working structure in Dublin, it's nothing if not sustainable.

It offers three different spaces: the 12th century crypt and magnificent cathedral nave for gala dinners, or the music room, which comes complete with grand piano, projection and natural daylight, which is perfect for an elegant kind of meeting. And if the party you are negotiating with tells you to go whistle for it, you can always call on the services of the in-house choir, available for hire.

Few occasions are as soporific as a boring meeting – so be careful if you choose this one – but the College of Anaesthetists on Merrion Square offers a lovely combination of Georgian elegance and state-of-the-art facilities. It has also been beautifully refurbished, keeping all the features which foreign business visitors enjoy, like tall sash windows, impressive coving, ceiling roses and fireplaces. If it’s Americans you’re meeting, the deal is all but in the bag.

The 100-seater lecture theatre and reception area, plus elegant boardroom, are all in this building. Just across the courtyard out the back is a newly built training facility with high-tech audio visuals and WiFi.

Anyone over 40 will surely remember the many decades Dublin’s business community – and especially hoteliers – spent wishing for a convention centre of international standing. Hard to believe, now that it is so central to business life, that prior to its arrival, conference organisers spent their time lusting after mega international events and doing frantic sums to see could they possibly throw Dublin’s name in the hat for the next one, as long as no one minded having to share chairs and sit on knees.

Convention Centre

Now we have our award-winning Convention Centre Dublin, capable of holding up to 8,000 exhibition delegates, 2,000 in its auditorium and 3,000 guests for dinner. It’s got state-of-the-art AV equipment throughout, and complimentary WiFi for 22,000 devices – enough for everyone to carry two mobile phones each – how’s that for progress.

Of course, sometimes the oldies are the best and for most business meetings, you can’t beat a good hotel, not least because there’s always food nearby and a bar next door.

The Conrad Dublin has had a multi-million euro makeover and if you haven’t visited in a while, it’s time to reacquaint yourself. The Earlsfort Terrace property has a great location, a ballroom and nine conference rooms for large-scale events, plus a range of smaller meeting rooms perfect for private dining. There are two boardrooms too.

The Castleknock Hotel & Country Club is another great option, with 15 conference rooms in a country setting beside the Phoenix Park. It is home to the Thinking Factory, one of the country's most innovative meeting-room spaces, custom-built to get you all thinking outside the box.

Brightly coloured and cleverly designed, it’s perfect for brainstorming sessions, strategy meetings and product launches, with several small break-out areas within the room. It is designed to cater for groups of between 10 and 20 people, with plenty of room for egos. Even the menu is finely calibrated to get you thinking, leaning heavily on ‘brain food’ such as whole grains and omega 3 fatty acids to ensure your grey matter isn’t expected to run on empty.

Or book yourself a space at one of the funky meeting rooms offered by Iconic Offices, the city’s fast growing co-working space providers.

These guys don’t just know how to look after their resident entrepreneurs – think on-site baristas and motivational speakers – they know how to throw a good meeting too. These come with high-tech AV facilities for smart professional presentations, plasma screens, whiteboards, internet TVs, and wireless technology.

Its newer properties are increasingly design-led, including The Greenway on St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, which marries industrial chic with endless foliage and bold colours.

Of course, if you are really visually inclined, hire a cinema and infotain your clients instead. The Denzille Private Cinema just off Merrion Square seats 30 and is a perfect venue for quirky corporate entertainment.

Channel your inner Michael Scott and get the team to make their version of Threat Level Midnight, look it up, you'll thank me later. Or simply use this fun location to take the sting out of a bog-standard training video – wait, there's popcorn!

To find out more about the wide variety of meeting and event venues available in Dublin, check out DublinConventionBureau.com

Sandra O'Connell

Sandra O'Connell

Sandra O'Connell is a contributor to The Irish Times