Dear PoPville – Where’s a Cool Spot to Host a Small Event?


Photo by PoPville flickr user Nikoo’s Photos

Dear PoPville,

I work for a non-profit that periodically holds board meetings in DC. With 15 people coming into town from all over the world, we prefer to not just stick everyone in a corporate K street room or a hotel conference space. I have been looking at art studios, the common rooms of large houses on AirBnB, and restaurants that are closed during the day but am struggling to find interesting space that is willing to rent to a group for two days of 9-5 meetings. I know there must but many exciting options in DC that just aren’t easily searchable online for this purpose.

What unconventional private event spaces might be a good fit?

35 Comment

  • Tabula Rasa on Barracks Row might fit the bill. I have no idea on price though, i’ve seen people host things there before.

    • Second on Tabula Rasa – I’ve inquired about renting space before there, and it’s beautiful, divides easily into distinct meeting or training spaces, and even has a courtyard that’s great to use if you rent it when the weather is nice. Big plus is you can rent for more than one day and leave your stuff there overnight (most hotels make you leave the room the way you found it that morning, even if you’re renting it again the next day). Super handy for early morning meetings – you set everything up the day before after everyone else is gone for the day and come in to everything ready to go on Day 2!

    • Yes, I’ve been in Tabula Rasa and it’s a gorgeous space! Also a fairly convenient location.

  • Pew Charitable Trusts rents out its conference rooms for this exact purpose. They only rent them to nonprofit organizations, and I think the rates are fairly low to suit those needs:

    http://www.pewtrusts.org/about_us_conference_center.aspx

    • I second this, although if you’re looking for something a little more offbeat/funky, the Pew space is similar to a typical conference center. But their conference person was very responsive and helpful when I inquired about space for my nonprofit event recently. (Unfortunately, Pew was booked on our date, so we ended up not being able to use them.) CFED is another nonprofit that rents out space, although again, similar to the typical conf/board room.

  • The Kaiser Center for Total Health has some pretty awesome conference space: http://centerfortotalhealth.org/

  • The Hill Center by the Eastern Market metro…they really work with non-profits and let you bring in your own food. It is an old Naval building, converted to civilian use while preserving much of the old architecture.

    • I second the Hill Center! I was there for a Christmas party–its beautiful and its huge!

    • Another great suggestion! They really do love non-profits and will probably try to get you the best rate possible. Space seems tight when I’ve been there for evening events and classes, but maybe they have more rooms available during the day.

  • Contact Chez Billy. They rented me their space for something very similar back in November. They were awesome. At the end of our meetings each day we just went downstairs and helped ourselves to their oyster happy hour. Email them at chezbillyevents@gmail.com Ian was the guy who arranged everything for us.

  • O Street Mansion has some of the coolest spaces in Dupont!

  • It might not fit the bill, but Bloombars on 11th Street in Columbia Heights is definitely an interesting space.

  • Try the Stewart Mott House http://www.srmfoundation.org/MottHouse.html
    it’s free for non-profits. Space is somewhat small but usually includes a huge, covered outdoor patio. inquire early so you can get the date you want!

  • The Studio Theatre has multiple spaces — mostly no-frills classrooms and rehearsal rooms, but their Atrium, which is more of a public center for the whole complex, is gorgeous.

  • Mathematical Association of America’s Carriage House in Dupont. Great space for small groups! http://maa.org/meetings/carriagehouse.html

  • Also check out the Special Events Sites Marketing Alliance (SESMA), which is a consortium of DC area event venues that work together assisting clients in finding the perfect space for their events/programs. Their web site is http://www.sesma.org Good luck!

  • You should check out Partyista.com. It’s a website that allows you to search all of the DC area function spaces based on your need, attendance numbers, etc.

  • The William Penn House (www.williampennhouse.org) is a Quaker hospitality and seminar center and they have a medium sized conference room that is reasonably priced. They’re on Capitol Hill in a historic row house.

  • tterrag

    The Mexican Cultural Institute and the Art Museum of the Americas are great spaces.

  • DCAC (D.C. Arts Center) in Adams Morgan may fit the bill for that time frame and there would be places nearby for lunch and for drinks/dinner afterwards.

  • Definitely check out Partyista. The idea is that it is a searchable database of every single event space in the city so you should be able to find everything you need there. If you find something that is not on there, let me know as I’d like to add it.

  • The District Architecture Center in Penn Quarter–clean, modern, and in a great location. The company I work for considered hosting an event there, but it wasn’t large enough for us (they can comfortably accommodate about 90).

  • The Dunes in Columbia Heights hosts conferences, workshops, and corporate gatherings.
    Pictures: http://thedunesdc.com/about-2
    Rental info: http://thedunesdc.com/private-rentals

  • The board of a foundation I sit on has held meetings at the offices of a nonprofit called the Association of Small Foundations (great org in the philanthropy space) They have fantastic offices that used to a townhouse off DuPont circle that they rent out their conference room for nonprofit and foundation board meetings.

  • You could try the Intown Uptown Inn. It’s on 14th, uptown. It has hosted fundraisers before.

  • Check out Ebenezers Coffeehouse – great space on the lower level, reasonable rates, great coffee and food, and a very convenient location one block from Union Station

  • You might try The Pinch in Columbia Heights… http://www.thepinchdc.com

  • I used conference room space at the American Immigration Lawyers Association. Very easy group to work with, and there is a discount for non-profits and for gov’t groups.

    http://www.aila.org/content/default.aspx?docid=38040

  • Stroga in Adams Morgan is a really pretty looking space for a small group

  • The National Museum of the American Indian has some pretty conference rooms with great views – and great food in their cafeteria!

    I also second the Mathematical Association of America Carriage House

  • verdeHOUSE has been a great go-to for unique/underutilized spaces throughout DC. I just email them and they connect me to appropriate options. No research necessary! info@verdehouse.com

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