Take our latest survey for the chance to win a $250 gift card!
Are you tracking the right metrics for event marketing success? Share your thoughts and enter to win $250 Amazon gift card.

Where I Go: A Global Event Expert Shares Her Go-To Venues Around the World

Bonnie O’Hara, a partner at global creative agency Amplify, shares her favorite venues to host a large conference or brand activation, to entertain a client, to get inspired, and more.

Amplify's Bonnie O’Hara Shares Her Favorite Event Venues
"When we’re scoping events abroad, we’ll often start by exploring if we can repurpose historic venues and architecture as an unexpected canvas for storytelling," says Amplify's Bonnie O'Hara, whose team once produced a sleepover event at the Louvre in Paris.
Photo: Shutterstock

Amplify's Bonnie O’Hara Shares Her Favorite Event VenuesBonnie O'HaraPhoto: Courtesy of AmplifyBonnie O’Hara is a partner at Amplify, a London-based global creative agency. She heads up the Amplify U.S. office, based in Los Angeles, and has years of transatlantic experience delivering integrated creative solutions and experiences for brands including Hugo Boss, Activision, and Klarna. O’Hara has served on the board of SheSays, a global network committed to the gender equality movement, and is passionate about championing youth and providing opportunities to underrepresented communities in the industry. Here, she shared her favorite venues around the world, from Los Angeles and London to Mexico City and Madrid. 

To Host an Event Abroad

When we’re scoping events abroad, we’ll often start by exploring if we can repurpose historic venues and architecture as an unexpected canvas for storytelling, to bring the brief and brand to life in an original way, and provide a unique guest experience at the same time. For example, we utilized Palacio Vistalegre, a historic former bullring in Madrid, for Netflix’s Money Heist—and even persuaded the Louvre to let us do a sleepover for some lucky Airbnb guests. If done right, the event will cross your mind with every future visit, and drive a lot of earned media in the process.

To Host a Large Event or Conference

As we all know, there are endless variables and considerations when it comes to selecting a home for a large-capacity event, which can sometimes make options seem limited. If I’m honest, I am actively anti-conference centers and hotels where humanly possible. While the plug-and-play element can streamline logistics, it can often compromise the guest experience. If the brief allows it, you can have much more fun designing campus-style, multi-venue events to better engage delegates—supporting the local community and businesses like theaters, sports venues, bars, and restaurants in the process. Encouraging the use of public transport or, even better, walkability, gives the added bonus of city discovery and provides ample opportunity for organic connection and conversation between attendees—with much less rent-a-carpet. 

It’s long overdue to see that sustainability is becoming more of a factor in the decision-making process, and I am encouraged to see more venues building with this in mind, like the Amsterdam conference center Beurs van Berlage, the first Dutch conference and events center to receive Green Globe Certification. Amplify's Bonnie O’Hara Shares Her Favorite Event VenuesBeurs van Berlage in AmsterdamPhoto: Courtesy of Beurs van Berlage

To Hold an Intimate Meeting 

An airy, clean space by the beach, with room to breathe, The KINN in Venice, Calif., is the perfect neutral spot for an intimate meeting. The KINN is a hub for empowering founders, creators, artists, and business leaders to enhance their impact through curated programs, workspace, and a mission-driven community. You can always find a quiet corner for a chat, and are among lots of entrepreneurs who create a nice productive buzz to the atmosphere. Amplify's Bonnie O’Hara Shares Her Favorite Event VenuesThe KINN in Venice, Calif.Photo: Tory West

To Host a Cool Brand Activation

The team behind the stunningly atmospheric and lovingly restored Sessions Arts Club in London is about to open a similarly inspired Los Angeles venue. They’re known for their studio ethos—multifunctional event spaces that move and shift with the seasons via curated, collective event programs, and I’m so excited to see how they apply that spirit to contribute to the ever-evolving cultural tapestry of Downtown LA.

To Take in Art and Culture 

Tapping into the underground rave scene of any city is a tried and tested shortcut to its cultural jugular. Resident Advisor and Dice are great resources and have led me to discover some incredible communities at places like The Basement in LA or Fábrica de Arte Cubano in Havana, a real one-stop culture shop and community space; it’s an amazing experience where you can enjoy photography and art exhibitions, dancing, and live performances all under one roof. 

If I’m passing through London, I’ll always try to get to an exhibition or two. The Museum of Youth Culture, the ICA, or Wellcome Collection are a few favorites. Or just walking the sensory streets of Peckham to appreciate the cross-pollination of style, art, and cultures. There’s normally always something worth checking out at JumbiAmplify's Bonnie O’Hara Shares Her Favorite Event VenuesThe ICA in LondonPhoto: Rob Battersby

To Hear Live Music 

Where to begin! A few faves: Brilliant Corners and sister venue Giant Steps in London are the perfect example of simple done well, and that stands for the food, the drinks, and the music. Tokyo Music Bar in Mexico City serves up pure, uninterrupted vinyl alongside the finest mezcal cocktails. Smalls Jazz Club in New York—old cats and new beats every night of the week in a relaxed and intimate setting. And White Horse Saloon in Austin, Texas, is the perfect place to meet some cowboys and work on your two-step.

To Get Inspired

I’ve been really impressed with the thoughtful experiential design and world-class programming from the team behind Summit Series. I won’t give too much away, but their multidisciplinary experiences are guaranteed to deliver more than you bargained for!

For a soul top-up, the embarrassment of riches that is California, from the redwoods to open roads, endless desert skies, the vast coastline of ocean, and bathing under the stars at one of the many wild swimming spots. The sheer scale of the landscape never fails to humble and inspire, and I’m grateful every day to have access to so much abundance. Amplify's Bonnie O’Hara Shares Her Favorite Event VenuesThe redwoods in CaliforniaPhoto: Shutterstock

To Eat My Favorite Dinner 

The best meals I’ve had have been at restaurants where you get the “‘if only walls could talk” feels. The timeless jewel of Raoul’s in New York is famous for the fact that almost nothing has changed since 1975—in a good way. Eclectic, charming, and slightly eccentric, just like the crowd. It can be hard to get a table but worth planning ahead for. Treat yourself to the steak au poivre and a filthy martini, then sit back and enjoy the people-watching. The historic Copper Room restaurant at Yucca Valley Airport [in California] offers a similar time machine portal, back to the golden, and distinctly more glamorous, age of 1950s air travel. Amplify's Bonnie O’Hara Shares Her Favorite Event VenuesThe Copper Room in Yucca Valley, Calif.Photo: Courtesy of Life & Times

To Unwind After a Long Day

Any of the Korean spas in LA, or soaking up some of the best sunset views in the city on the Wisdom Tree hike.

To Entertain a Client

It depends on the clients, but I love to shake people out of their comfort zone if they’re up for it! Where can you get weird, inspire, laugh—or at the very least ensure you’ve given them a good story to take home. In Los Angeles, that has me heading to the iconic Magic Castle or the excellent (and often BYOB) local fave the Hollywood Bowl. I am a big fan of immersive theater for entertaining visitors too—check out Punchdrunk or Secret Cinema’s latest offerings; the level of production and attention to detail is wondrous. Amplify's Bonnie O’Hara Shares Her Favorite Event VenuesThe Hollywood Bowl in Los AngelesPhoto: Courtesy of Los Angeles Philharmonic

Page 1 of 55
Next Page