Last Updated on August 30, 2021
Snuggling down with Jock – a Five Star Hotel with a Heart.
What makes a hotel special? I start with a tickbox list of things I am looking for. Room size, location, friendly staff, cleanliness, a decent bar and a good restaurant. Somewhere quiet enough that I’ll get a good night’s sleep. Somewhere with good transport links if it’s a city staycation. Somewhere with decor that won’t wake me up in the middle of the night with nightmares. But, once those boxes are ticked, it comes down to whether or not the hotel has a heart. For that reason, I’m more likely to choose a stay in a boutique hotel. It’s a rare thing indeed to find a five-star hotel, part of a major chain, that has heart and soul. That personality is what makes the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill so unique and it’s why, having already reviewed two of the restaurant options there, I was so keen to take up an invitation for a staycation there.
On the edge of Portman Square, the hotel is well located for shopping on Oxford Street, Bond Street or in Marylebone Village. There are a wealth of good restaurants in the vicinity and if you are planning a night out at the theatre, it’s a few minutes in a cab or a half-hour walk to reach the West End. The Hyatt Regency London is a relatively modern hotel, newly built and opened in 1970 and refurbished extensively to reopen in 2017 with six new guest rooms – a total of 440 rooms and suites, all with top quality furnishing.
You’ll find bespoke herringbone throws, comfy chairs and…bathrooms with heated loo seats which I am sure Sir Winston would have thought entirely appropriate! By London hotel standards all the rooms are spacious, the smallest rooms house queen-sized beds and are 25sq m while my own standard + room was big enough for an extra-large kingsized bed, desk and armchair with park views together with more storage than most people would need for a week or more.
There is the option of a bath with an overhead shower or a walk-in shower for all the rooms, just make sure you ask when booking if you have a preference. Plenty of fluffy white towels, a luxurious bathrobe and toiletries from Molton Brown added to the five-star feeling.
But, it was Jock that really made my room special. A small, handmade knitted ginger cat on my bed. One with a story. Much of the hotel reflects the interests and passions of Sir Winston Churchill and his wife Clementine. You’ll find original photos, artwork and love letters on the walls. And, various sculptures of the man himself around the building. The real Jock lives at Chartwell – since the house was opened to the public in 1966, the family of Sir Winston Churchill asked that there should always be a marmalade cat named Jock, with a white bib and four white socks, in comfortable residence at Chartwell. Jock VII, a six-month-old rescue kitten took residency there in May 2020 while his namesakes roam throughout the hotel.
I took a short tour of the hotel and was genuinely impressed by the meeting and events spaces.
Some of the smaller business suites have an intimate cosy feel, lined with bookcases and with soft lighting, while there are also flexible areas that can be used for weddings and large parties. The hotel also has a fitness centre which I didn’t see.
Needless to say, I got room envy when I saw the suites on the top floor. Some come with balconies looking out over the square and all are furnished comfortably with the kind of British artisan fittings I’d love to have in my own home. It’s hard to strike a good balance between contemporary and traditional styling and the Hyatt Regency – The Churchill does an admirable job.
We were booked in to eat at The Churchill Bar, one of three options for dining at the hotel. The Montagu Kitchen offers a more structured menu with a focus on local and seasonal produce while the hotel is also home to the Michelin Starred Italian restaurant Locanda Locatelli.
In the bar, we started with cocktails – the bar staff explained that they had a new series of drinks created during lockdown while none of them could travel. So, I had the Whitehead 907 from the World of Wanderlust. Named after Ernest Hemmingway’s house in Florida, on 907 Whitehead Street, across the way from Key West lighthouse, it’s a heady mixture of American Eagle Bourbon, homemade apricot cordial, Tio Pepe sherry and Angostura bitters. I could easily have had another of this butterscotch and apricot mixture, but I suspect that wouldn’t have been a good idea.
My companion doesn’t drink alcohol so started the evening with the Seedlip based allspice sour which she loved. It’s based on Seedlip spice 94 with fresh raspberries and lemon juice and, her verdict was that the quality of the ingredients really shone through. Later, she tried the blueberry and rosehip sling with fresh blueberries, passion fruit, rosehip cordial, lemon and apple juice. That was definitely five of her five a day in a glass!
Although we were eating in a bar, we really had a feast. The menu has a range of nibbles, small plates and large plates so you can pick and choose from dishes to share or things you just won’t want to let anyone else near.
We shared four oysters – and I got to drink champagne for the rest of the evening. I’m sure Churchill would have approved. We really enjoyed the rock oysters with a mignonette that seemed to include tiny bits of apple.
To start, I picked the barbecued octopus with watercress, radish and onion while my companion ordered the carpaccio of beef sirloin served with stilton cheese and saffron poached pears. The octopus was beautifully cooked and I loved the tiny pot of watercress sauce.
We swooned over the carpaccio and loved the addition of saffron poached pears which added a fragrant sweetness to the dish.
Mains for both of us were burgers. I picked The Winston, a 6oz beef burger with cheddar, caramelized onion and a pretzel bun together with a dollop of Winston sauce. My companion ordered The Traveller – a chicken thigh burger with jalapeno mayo, avocado and herb salad and pretzel bun. Both were delicious comfort food, the sort of thing a genuine traveller might enjoy at the end of the day.
Desserts of baked vanilla cheesecake with mixed berry compote and a heap of fresh berries for my companion and of chocolate and hazelnut sphere with coffee Anglaise for me were totally unnecessary but very delicious all the same.
After coffee, I made my way back up to my room where I slept like a baby in the massive bed.
Breakfast at the Hyatt Regency – The Churchill is served in the Montagu Kitchen where there’s a mixture of buffet service and food to order at your table. Having really overindulged the night before I enjoyed an omelette, tea and toast, though there was a wide range of dishes on offer from healthy bircher muesli through to a full cooked English breakfast. For me, there’s really nothing to dislike about the Hyatt Regency – The Churchill. The location is excellent for anyone wanting to be close to shops and theatres and the food offerings mean that you can choose to dine in the hotel with anything from excellent bar food through to a Michelin restaurant.
Guests have access to the private gardens of Portman Square which makes this a great location for anyone with small children and it’s also not far from Hyde Park. The hotel offers five-star luxury away from Park Lane – in a location that has an exclusive, discrete and private feel. Staff are charming and friendly and, for anyone with an interest in British heritage, the touches of Churchill memorabilia make this a hotel with a real heart.
Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill
30 Portman Square
+44 0 20 7486 5800
I was a guest of the Hyatt Regency London The Churchill