WTM Preview: insider’s guide to ExCeL

With days pounding the floor at World Travel Market ahead of you, Travel Weekly has put together a quick guide to give you the lowdown on ExCeL as a venue.

Most of the high-end restaurants are only open for dinner, so if you want to impress your contacts with posh nosh save it for the evening. From where to go for a coffee to lunch on the go, Tracey Gregory has done the hard work of putting together our insider’s guide to ExCeL, so from coffee on the hoof to an al fresco meeting, check out her suggestions for a successful WTM.

Your daily cup

Costa Coffee: situated on the left-hand side of the west entrance, the coffee here was the best of the bunch: Piping hot, smooth with a good amount of froth and chocolate sprinkles. A cappuccino costs £1.89. It also sells a range of cakes, pastries and hot and cold sandwiches.

DP Cappuccino Express: a concession stand near S1. I’d give this one a miss unless you like your coffee tepid and weak. Staff were unable to muster up a smile or greeting. It does have a range of flavoured syrups, such as vanilla and amaretto, if you want to jazz up your java. Cost: £1.80

Traditional Pasty and Pie:located on the right-hand side of the east entrance. Primarily a pasty and pie shop, it is the only place at ExCeL to sell Fairtrade organic tea and coffee.

The coffee was not as strong as at Costa but the service was the friendliest and fastest of the lot. Cost: £1.50.

Business lunch

Fox @ ExCeL: located on the walkway between Custom House DLR and the west entrance to ExCeL. The Fox has two bars over two floors plus a separate restaurant area.

The bar and restaurant menus were the same – a typical bar chain menu. Sandwiches, salads and meals range from £4.50 to £9.95. Beer is served and starts at £2.90 a pint or £3.20 a bottle. Wine sells from £2.95 a glass to £11 a bottle. The bar also serves cocktails.

Superstar Chinese Restaurant:located on the Western Gateway, this is a smart restaurant with prices to suit everyone. You can order the business lunch special, £9.95 per head for a minimum of two people, or try dim sum, which is available all day, with single dishes ranging from £2.20 to £3.50.

Set menus start at £6.60 per head, for a minimum of two, to £28.50 per head for minimum of four. It is also licensed to sell beer and wine.

Caribbean Scene: located at the Western Gateway, five minutes’ walk from ExCeL. This is a lively restaurant serving Caribbean food from 11am to 3pm. Main dishes cost £4.50 to £11.50 and sides are £3.50 each. The restaurant’s Hurricane Bar serves a variety of cocktails from £6.50, spirits and beers. If you like rum you are in for a treat – 35 different varieties are available from 12pm everyday.

Isle Bar:situated at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Western Gateway. If you are looking for something a bit more trendy, and are happy to pay that bit extra, this is the place to come. On offer are gourmet sandwiches from £7.95 and platters from £8.95. It also serves beer, wine and cocktails.

Lunch on the run

Panini Pronto: situated on the right side of the west entrance and a concession near S6. Serves hot paninis and filled baguettes, costing £4.50 and £3.95-£4.95 respectively. If you fancy a bargain, try the meal deal – any panini, soft drink and a packet of crisps for £5.95.

Birley Sandwiches:near N7. Offers a variety of sandwiches and rolls from £4.95. Salt beef is a speciality, but there’s plenty more besides – try goat’s cheese, peppers and chilli jam.

Chozen Noodle: situated on the boulevard. Serves noodles and rice dishes from £3.95, and the healthier alternative of sushi, costing £5.95. It also serves beer and wine, from £3.

Impromptu meeting

Costa Coffee: situated near S5. The seating section of the café has comfortable chairs and is a good place to sit down for a meet. If the area is full, just a couple of steps over is one of the numerous seating areas.

West entrance lounges: located either side of the west entrance. If you are lucky enough to find yourself seated at one of these tables, enjoy the sunshine – it is the lightest and brightest spot inside the complex and a good place to recharge your batteries.

The boulevard: there are groups of seats located along the length of the boulevard for a quick snack, a coffee or a meeting.

Take a breather

The Waterfront:turn right before you enter the west entrance. Take a walk along the Waterfront and enjoy the view – not only of the docks but of the Millennium Dome and Canary Wharf. Take a left at the entrance instead, and you can have an al fresco coffee or something to eat at the Waterfront Café Bar.

The Eastern entrance:not as busy as the Western entrance, pop out here if you need a few minutes away from the crowds.

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