Scotland on Sunday Travel: Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill – Winston’s way

The current pandemic has seen much channelling of Sir Winston Churchill’s indefatigable wartime spirit, and this hotel in a prime spot in the very heart of the Big Smoke pays tribute to the leader in elegant style.
The hotel is tucked away on a corner of Marylebone’s Portman Square. Picture: contributed.The hotel is tucked away on a corner of Marylebone’s Portman Square. Picture: contributed.
The hotel is tucked away on a corner of Marylebone’s Portman Square. Picture: contributed.

I stayed with a friend on a pre-lockdown visit, and we cross the threshold after a short walk from Marble Arch Tube station. The mainly cream reception area features a bust of Churchill, while there is a gift shop containing Churchill-related items.

Budget or boutique?

The unique Churchill connection – particularly at the bar – has a very boutique feel, tapping into extensive research and affection rather than as a tacked-on theme.

The Regency Executive Suite. Picture: contributed.The Regency Executive Suite. Picture: contributed.
The Regency Executive Suite. Picture: contributed.

Room service

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Our twin room overlooks the green space and tennis court of Portman Square – to which hotel guests have access if they fancy a game. The square is also described as the “jewel in the crown” of The Portman Estate – an envy-inducing portfolio of 110 acres of prime London property.The colour scheme of our lodgings is greyish-brown with a herringbone patterned carpet.

There’s a table and chair by the window as well as a desk, and minibar snacks including crisps and chocolate. The colour scheme extends into the bathroom, which comes complete with a marble sink top and Pharmacopia toiletries.

The hotel – whose former guests include Barack Obama – also has a range of suites, the top dog being the Royal Suite, complete with four en-suite bedrooms, a dining table for up to ten, baby grand piano, and not one, but two large balcony terraces.

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Wining and dining

We start the evening with a cocktail at The Churchill Bar & Terrace on the ground floor, one of the nicest bars I’ve visited in London.There are petrol blue furnishings, gold fixtures and fittings, and there are original photographs and love letters between Churchill and his wife Clementine on the walls. Churchill’s extended family in fact gave their blessing to name the bar after him.

While we stay inside, hardy souls can be heard enjoying the terrace, which is decorated with affectionate illustrations of Churchill, and there’s a specially commissioned life-size bronze of the leader titled “In Conversation”.

The bar has also put together a range of cocktails each named after “distinguishing aspects of Churchill’s complex personality”.After perusing the menu, which also has illustrations of the wartime leader, we both opt for The Writer, a nod to Churchill’s oeuvre – he picked up the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1953.

The drink combines rhubarb and custard, including rhubarb and apple gin, in a delicious, much lighter and less sweet combination than it sounds.Then we make our way to dinner at the hotel’s Montagu Kitchen, which is inspired by the gardens at Churchill’s private home, Chartwell in Kent.

My friend’s coeliac requirements are handled smoothly – she’s brought gluten-free bread – and we start with the hand-dived Orkney scallops, which arrive pan-seared in a shell, for a meal which includes grilled tiger prawns, steak tartare and even a quail’s egg and truffle mayo. Churchill’s wife is honoured in my friend’s dessert order – a Clementine baked custard. A relaxing, high-end meal.

Worth getting out of bed for

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After checking out we visit the Churchill War Rooms hidden beneath the streets of Westminster featuring the leader’s bunker offices and accommodation that still feel as though their temporary wartime occupants will be back any second.

Little extras

The hotel bathroom comes complete with a fancy Japanese-style WC – no need to stockpile toilet paper here. There is also, very handily, a cash machine in the gift shop.

Guestbook comments

“I am easily satisfied with the very best,” Churchill once said. He would not have been disappointed by this refined tribute, and would no doubt have enjoyed a cocktail or two – and a cigar – on the bar terrace.

Double rooms start from £359 per night. Hyatt Regency London - The Churchill 30 Portman Square, Marylebone, London, W1H 7BH. (Tel: 020-7486 5800, [email protected])

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