The legacy of Sir Winston Churchill has come into question somewhat in these recent hyper-politicised times, it’s safe to say. But what has never lost currency is his symbolising Britain’s indomitable wartime fighting spirit and the imperial outlook of his bygone era.
And it is the stately splendour of his Blenheim Palace origins that immediately comes to mind when you first step inside the luxurious five-star Hyatt Regency London – designed and named in his honour. Although there is no direct connection to Churchill as such (the hotel opened its doors a few years after he died) it has chosen to commemorate the celebrated Prime Minister and his ‘classic British style’, which they have pulled off with some aplomb.
If truth be told, the exterior of the building isn’t quite as picturesque as inside. It can look slightly brutalist and forbidding when approaching on foot past Marylebone’s Portman Square, close to the Marble Arch end of Oxford Street and Hyde Park, where it sits overlooking the impressive trees and gardens which fill the fenced-off square. But once you’re through the revolving doors it is all sleek, spacious opulence with chandeliers, a grand piano and burnished marble pillars and floors you can almost see your reflection off.
From then on, the Churchill references come thick and fast. The art-filled lobby features a bust of the former PM, and I later find out the Art Deco-inspired Churchill Bar and Terrace is lined with love letters sent by Churchill and his wife Clementine. The house restaurant Montagu Kitchen also is inspired by Chartwell, his private home in Kent, and if you really want to channel the statesmanlike vibe, his favourite Cuban cigars are available to purchase from the bar.
Anyone interested in holding an event, be it corporate or social, are spoilt for choice with options here, encompassing a total of 627 square metres of flexible space. And if wedding bells are in the air, the hotel has a licence for ceremonies and a grand space for up to 180 guests in the form of the Chartwell Ballroom, resplendent with silk-panelled walls and twinkling chandeliers for a truly stately nuptial setting, fit for the Churchill family themselves.
The Churchill references continue throughout the 440 guestrooms and suites, such as a grey pinstripe design on the bed headboard – a homage to his suits – and photographs of the freshly cut flowers Clementine would place in his suit pocket each morning before the workday began. All rooms come with spacious beds, a 42” flat-screen HDTV, Molton Brown toiletries in the bathroom and an advanced toilet with heated seats, while all 50 suites come complete with a standalone bathtub in addition to the shower in the marble bathrooms.
Food and drink
The hotel comes further into its own with its drinking and dining options, which are everything you would come to expect at a venue of this standing. The Churchill Bar, with its Art Deco interior and velvet-backed chairs, is a regal spot to enjoy a craft cocktail with suitably Churchillian names (‘The Prime Minister’, ‘Blenheim Fizz’) and even one of Winston’s aforementioned preferred cigars – a ‘Romeo y Julieta’ from Havana, which he visited in 1946.
There’s a popular adjoining alfresco option in the form of a year-round heated terrace, where guests can drink and brunch amid a life-size bronze figure of a young Churchill, and during the colder months the Montagu Winter Terrace pop-up, which offers more of an après-ski vibe with seasonal tipples like mulled wine and an Alpine-inspired food menu including Nutella-loaded waffles and Swiss cheese fondue to share. This has now turned into the Summer Terrace, going for a more seaside nautical theme visually, and offering a selection of seafood fare sourced directly from the coast, including Whitstable oysters and Cornish crab choux.
The dining venue choices are the Michelin-starred Locanda Locatelli, offering high-end Italian-inspired cuisine, and the more relaxed Montagu Kitchen, which has a bustling open cooking area and capacious seating area – breakfast is also served here.
My partner and I enjoyed a memorable three-course meal in the Montagu at a table in full view of the open kitchen. Its à la carte menu was inventively divided into themed sections – ‘caught’, ‘farmed’ and ‘harvested’, signifying seafood, meat dishes and vegetarian respectively – from which we were so fully sated by our starter and main that we were allowed to have our desserts back in our bedroom via room service. It was a pleasant service touch to round off our Saturday evening stay before checking out the following morning.
The location of the Hyatt Regency London really takes some beating if you want somewhere well placed for a cultural or retail-therapy break, with the shops and department stores of Oxford Street on your doorstep on one side of the square, and the more boutique urban village of Marylebone on the other. The West End and green expanse of Hyde Park are just a walk away, as are smaller cultural offerings like the Wallace Collection, a real hidden gem of an art gallery within strolling distance.
For sportier types, guests have access to the facilities of leafy Portman Square – the private garden space which houses a tennis court and children’s playground – as well as a petite, but well-equipped, fitness room within the hotel.
In a nutshell
I couldn’t help feeling quite the pampered statesman patronising this luxurious hotel, one of the finest in the capital I’ve had the privilege to stay in. As the eminent man himself once quipped, “I am a man of simple tastes; I am easily satisfied with the best.” And on that note, I depart The Churchill with another of Winston’s countless aphorisms in my ears: “We shape our dwellings, and afterwards our dwellings shape us.” That may be quite a lofty sentiment to conclude with, but after a weekend here one’s standards and expectations are certainly lifted to a height that will be difficult to reattain in a hurry.
Rooms at Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill start at £218 (room only).
The hotel bars reopened on 12th April and the hotel is set to reopen fully on 17th May.
Address: 30 Portman Square, London W1H 7BH
Phone: +44 (0) 20 7486 5800
All imagery supplied by Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill.