Pronounced "Lester," the city of Leicester is a city of 340,000 in the East Midlands region of England. For MICE groups who wish to soak up English history, Leicester is laden with it. Established by Romans, the city is approximately 10 miles to the east of Bosworth, the last battle of the War of the Roses. Most recently, the remains of Richard III, who was killed in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth, were discovered underneath a Leicester parking lot; they are now buried in Leicester Cathedral.
The closest international airport is East Midlands Airport (EMA), which is 18 miles to the northwest of the city center in the town of Castle Donington, famous for its staging of huge, outdoor rock-music festivals. The airport has service to quite a few European hubs, but a lot of service is seasonal and geared to European tourism.
There is no dedicated convention center, but there are some admirable MICE venues in Leicester. Acting as a default conference center is Athena Leicester, an Art Deco building originally opened in 1936, closed for many years but restored with room for events of up to 1,500 persons. Other rooms such as the Deco Lounge and City View Lounge can also hold events, as can The Gallery for 400 persons.
Leicester MICE hotels include the 188-room Holiday Inn Leicester City, which has 11 meeting spaces (including the Leicestershire Suite for 300 persons); the 93-room Campanile Leicester, which has three meeting rooms, and 75-room The Belmont, a succession of townhouses that has seven meeting rooms, including the Rose Suite for 200 persons. Hotels on the outskirts of the city include the 227-room Leicester Marriott, which has 20 meeting rooms for up to 500 persons, and the 75-room Ramada Leicester Stage, which has event space for up to 400 persons.
There are numerous unique MICE venues in this historical city. Examples include Welford Road Stadium, home to the Leicester Tigers Rugby Football Club, which plays at the very height of the sport and has room for events of 1,000 persons, meetings for 200 and numerous executive suites; National Space Centre, the foremost facility in the United Kingdom of its kind and which has a space-shuttle simulation site, a planetarium, and the Shuttle Suite for up to 200 persons; Abbey Pumping Station, a museum of science and technology in a former sewage station that stopped operations in 1964, which has the Engine House for 40 persons and the Electric Switch Room for 60, and steam engines can be fired up for events, too; the facilities at the 18th-century mansion house Belgrave Hall & Gardens, with grounds that edge the city's River Soar and event sites including its William Vann Room for 50 persons, Old Laundry for 60 and a large garden tent for 120; and the architecturally stunning theater The Curve, which is right in the middle of the city and has 902 seats, a studio for 262 persons, and banquet space for up to 450.
Restaurants in Leicester good for gathering the group include The Boot Room, with a modern British menu and a home that is a former shoe manufacturer; French spot Le Bistrot Pierre; and The Case Restaurant & Champagne Bar, which spreads across four floors of another former factory, this one having made luggage, and which has a private dining room. For Indian cuisine, Mem Saab has won national awards for its fare and has a chef's table and has private dining spaces. Just down the road from that, Maiyango, in a 14-room boutique hotel of the same name, and which serves an excellent, innovative array of British and international dishes.