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When is a unique venue really unique? And quirky doesn’t count

I am thinking of adding the word ‘unique’ to my banned list of adjectives.

The Cambridge English Dictionary describes the word as meaning “the only existing one of its type or, more generally, unusual, or special in some way.”

I think many venues employ extreme latitude when using this term, or use ‘unique’ and ‘special’ interchangeably.

And it seems there are more unique venues than you would have guessed. London is practically littered with them. Unique Venues of London has almost 90 locations around the capital, and adding to its number all the time.

I suppose the allure is to entice people to come out on a cold, rainy night. The chance to do a ‘Through the Keyhole’ number on a place never seen before does have a certain appeal.

I recently visited the Natural History Museum (NHM) and it certainly ticks all the boxes in terms of unique. David Attenborough hangs out here, so what’s not to like?

Nikki Fhalora, NHM’s interim head of venue hire and catering, showed me round. It’s been a while since I was here, a rushed press view and then off again. This time, I had time to look around and this place really astounds. Call me an-old fashioned sucker for Victorian brickwork, but architect Alfred Waterhouse’s use of terracotta was a masterstroke.

I do like the mix of old and new. Not content with relying on its dinosaurs as the star attractions, the NHM is opening the Museum of the Moon in May.

The space will hold a lunar art installation by artist Luke Jerram, measuring six metres in diametre, which features NASA imagery recreating the moon’s surface.

The venue’s first booking has already confirmed, although I couldn’t persuade Nikki to spill the beans on who it is. Anyone prepared to come forward and reveal yourself?

Let’s just pause before we bandy terms around. I can safely say the Museum of the Moon definitely comes into the unique category.

Call it unusual, special or quirky, but let’s save the ‘U’ word for venues that really deserve it.

What’s the best unique venue you’ve been to? Drop us an email