The town of Princeton is best known for the esteemed institution, Princeton University, but the town offers so much more than just a good educational opportunity. Thanks to a bustling scene on Nassau Street, and plenty of great local shops and restaurants, the area is one of New Jersey’s most charming towns.
Where to Stay
Directly across from Princeton University, the Nassau Inn features 10,000 square feet of meeting space filled with natural light, and holding a meeting there is akin to taking part in history. “Local legend holds that the Inn’s earliest ‘business travelers’ included Paul Revere, the delegates of the First Continental Congress and signers of the Declaration of Independence,” says Jamie M. Volkert, marketing and business development manager. “Our Colonial-era architecture and ambiance remain, but extensive renovations have created a tech-savvy setting perfectly suited for modern corporate gatherings.” A team of experienced conference planners and a topnotch catering team are both available to assist at any meeting, and the hotel offers wireless internet access and a host of audiovisual equipment for use by those renting the space. “We can also design exclusive packages for team-building activities, and assist with tours and group excursions,” Volkert says.
Also nearby the University is the Hampton Inn Princeton, which is smaller than some other hotels in the area, but Stefanie Przechacki, director of sales and marketing, says that just lets it be more customer-centric. “We do a lot to cater to our guests and there’s a reason that we are rated so highly on TripAdvisor and other sites—people always mention how friendly we are,” she says. The hotel currently has one 400-square-foot meeting room, with plans to expand in the coming year. The meeting room can hold 20 and up to 40 theater-style. Audio-visual equipment is available at an extra cost. “We also allow outside food and beverages in, which a lot of hotels in the area don’t,” Przechacki says.
The Westin Princeton at Forrestal Village offers 22,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor meeting space, and is a great place to hold a corporate function, private event or just small business gathering. Kate Pristash, sales representative, says the hotel has nourishing menu selections, readily available on-site audio-visual support and a dynamic planning team at the ready. “We have 19 meeting rooms overall, and each has T-1 line connections and video conferencing capabilities,” she says. Additionally, the hotel features a 9,800-square-foot ballroom that can hold as many as 1,100 guests. There’s also an outdoor area that can accommodate up to 150 guests for an event or less formal meeting.
What to Eat
elements is known for its coveted chef tasting menus curated by fivetime James Beard semifinalist Scott Anderson. “With only nine tables in the main dining room, all within view of an open kitchen, elements takes diners on a culinary adventure that disrupts all traditional kitchen boundaries, testing the limits of diner’s imaginations,” says Fia Berisha, director of operations. “The menu rotates daily to reflect the freshest, seasonal flavors the Princeton area has to offer.” elements has two private dining rooms, a smaller one which accommodates groups up to 10 guests and a larger space that holds groups of up to 25 guests. Both rooms come with complimentary Wi-Fi connectivity and flat screen TVs with presentation capabilities. Meetings and events planners also have the option to rent out the main dining room, which holds up to 40 guests.
Agricola, which means “farmer” in Latin, embodies the restaurant’s farm to table spirit and its dedication to community and comfort. Anita Fresolone, marketing manager, notes Agricola houses three inviting private spaces in 8,000 square feet of beautiful rustic interiors. Its spaces are The Kitchen, which can accommodate 10-20 seated or 30 standing; The Parlor, which accommodates 40 seated or 50 standing; and the Root Cellar, the most private space, which holds 30 for a presentation, 50 seated or 60 standing. “The atmosphere, the food and the staff create an experience unlike anything else in the area,” Fresolone says. “There’s also a built-in screen, a portable projector screen and personal music capabilities [in the Root Cellar]”.
The Peacock Inn is not only a luxury 16-room boutique hotel, but one of the top fine-dining restaurants located in the heart of downtown Princeton. Chef Maj Parvez’s 4-Diamond rated menu is seasonal and changes four times a year using the highest quality local ingredients. “We can accommodate day meetings and lunch/dinner groups of all sizes,” says Michelle Parvez, event coordinator. “We host a variety of events, both corporate and social.” The restaurant offers two semiprivate rooms that can accommodate up to 12 guests; two private dining rooms that can accommodate up to 24 guests; one private dining room that can accommodate up to 56 guests; and buyout capacity up to 85. All audio-visual needs, including an LCD screen, projector, mics and lectern are available for all day meetings.
What to Do
Princeton offers a variety of cool things to do, and many of the places where the fun is had can also double as a meeting space.
The Princeton Garden Theatre shows classic movies but its screening room can also be rented when it’s not hosting festivals or playing the latest independent, foreign or classic films. “For private meetings and events, we provide complimentary small popcorn and fountain sodas as well as an entire movie theater screen to yourself,” says Samantha Snyman, events and rental coordinator. “While we have several lower price points, we have 190-seat theaters to accommodate large groups, as well.” Rentals are most common for birthday parties on Saturday and Sunday mornings, but corporate meetings, special events, day camp outings and fundraisers can also be hosted here.
As a National Historic Landmark, the former New Jersey Governor’s mansion and 18th-century home of Richard Stockton, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, Morven Museum & Garden offers several venues suitable for a variety of private events. “The first floor of the museum features elegant galleries presenting Morven’s history, and is available for seated, plated dinners or cocktail receptions,” says Diana R. Griffin, private events manager. “On the second floor, the well-appointed Conference Room is an ideal private location for business meetings.” Also, Morven’s Garden Room is an intimate space for luncheons and small cocktail receptions boasting a beautiful view of the Colonial Revival Garden, dotted with majestic trees and beds of heirloom perennials from the 18th and 19th centuries, can accommodate large groups in a tented arena with Morven’s façade as a backdrop. “The feeling as though your meeting/event is being held in your own home or backyard makes a memorable day for all who attend,” Griffin says. “The option for a docent-led tour for an overview of the history of the museum, as well as the rotating exhibits on the second floor are an added bonus for guests.”
McCarter Theatre Center is a two-time Tony Award-winning theater in the heart of historic Princeton, and has a number of event spaces available. “McCarter Theater is the only theater in the state that presents its own award-winning work though our theater series, as well as presents works such as comedians, rock concerts, acrobats, family performances, musicians and much more,” says Christine Murray, special events and group sales manager. Event space includes the Berlind Rehearsal Room, which can hold 200 for a standing reception and 100 for a sit-down dinner; the Lockwood Lobby, which holds 125 for a standing reception; the Victoria J. Mastrobuono Rehearsal Room, which holds 60 seated or 150 for a standing reception, and the Presidents Room, which can hold 20 for a seated event or 30 for a standing and mingling reception.