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Cumbria Times
A Voice of the North
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Phil Hopkins
Arts & Travel Editor
@philhopkinsuk
9:00 AM 13th January 2021
travel

Wallace Without Gromit & A Slice Of London’s Neighbourhood Village!

‘We must just KBO’ was one of Churchill’s favourite maxims, usually delivered to colleagues and family, and abbreviated in polite company: it stood for ‘Keep Buggering On’!

And if ever there was a time to take inspiration from the great man, surely it must be now as the country finds itself in Tiers, so to speak, with the hopeful prospect of a UK staycation now looking more inviting than a cream bun at Slimming World’s annual conference!

But take heart, help is at hand from the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill hotel, which is standing by with succour at the ready as the country eagerly prepares to emerge from the latest Covid lockdown.

And with the promise to run its ‘Discover Marylebone’ package until life resumes equilibrium, this has all the hallmarks of a great ‘short break’ as we all begin the slow journey back to ‘normality’, thanks to an emerging inoculation programme and the renewed promise of travel later in 2021.

So, if you are looking for something not too far from home, but which will re-introduce you to the concept of travelling further than your local Aldi, then look no further!
The Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill is conveniently tucked away in upmarket Marylebone, located in the heart of London’s West End, and featuring views over the charming gardens of Portman Square.
The private gardens of Portman Square, available to hotel guests.
The private gardens of Portman Square, available to hotel guests.
With 440 sophisticated guestrooms, including 50 suites, plus 12 distinctive meeting spaces, the hotel offers a full range of services tailored to serve the needs of business and leisure travellers alike.
However, its ‘Discover Marylebone’ package provides the perfect excuse for a staycation and includes a range of complimentary upgrades and a carefully curated selection of exclusive experiences from food and drink to art, fitness and lifestyle.

Famously home to fictional detective Sherlock Holmes, Madame Tussauds and The Wallace Collection, Marylebone’s stylish independent boutiques, fashionable restaurants, local cafes and restaurants are dotted between elegant Georgian squares and redbrick Victorian houses…and all on the doorstep of this elegant hotel.

Arriving there by car mid Friday afternoon, we were seamlessly shown to our elegant room. However, had we chosen to take the train, there would have been the promise of a free pick up from Paddington or Marylebone stations (with free parking for those driving), a complimentary upgrade to a suite and room service breakfast in bed.

During their stay, guests can also choose from a private cooking masterclass with Head Chef Roger Olsson, learning to use the best of British produce
...while kids can enjoy a mini-chef masterclass guaranteed to entertain. Alternatively, they can opt for a sumptuous champagne picnic in the private gardens of Portman Square, accessible only to local residents and overlooked by the hotel, with their own dedicated private waiter. If travelling with children in tow, the gardens provide an ideal secluded sanctuary in the city, with a fun activity pack from the hotel to accompany tea outdoors.

“It’s still light outside,” said my wife as she peered out of our third-floor curtains across Portman Square, adding: “Let’s make hay while the sun shines.” The sun wasn’t exactly shining, however, as a Filipino she was keen to make use of her newly learned proverb, even if it wasn’t entirely in keeping with the afternoon drizzle!

We set off in the direction of Marylebone High Street keen to check out the interesting array of independent boutique shops, ateliers, established brands and neighbourhood cafes.
The hotel had provided us with a handy ‘must see’ list and, like tourists on a mission, we headed for 36 Chiltern Street having programmed Google Maps to quickly take us there, however, after three minutes of arguing and several false starts, we finally agreed on a direction. ‘Bring back paper maps’, I thought!

A few minutes later we were standing outside Cire Trudon, the world’s oldest candlemaker
...which has been turning wax into light since 1643. Here guests on the Discover Marylebone package can partake in a fragrant masterclass and discover the history of the brand and those stories that inspired each candle creation, before choosing a complimentary scented cameo to use in their handbag, luggage or clothes drawer.

Just around the corner at 84 Marylebone High Street is Daunt Books
... an original Edwardian bookshop said to be the first custom-built retail outlet of its type in the world. A specialist in travel books, the contents of this beautiful shop are housed in long oak galleries that could hold their own if compared with Porto’s Livraria Lello bookstore in Portugal, one of the finest in the world!

With time passing on, we decided not to overstay our welcome in town because 8pm dinner had been booked at the hotel’s newly redesigned Churchill Bar & Terrace
...and we wanted to give ourselves time to freshen up before partaking of this stylish cocktail ‘with food’ bar.

The atmosphere was positively ‘buzzy’, giving little clue that the Big Smoke would soon be in even tighter lockdown so, like prisoners on Death Row, we enjoyed our sumptuous ‘British inspired’ meal with relish, fearing that it might be the last hotel one we’d see for some time to come!
Home to an award-winning team of mixologists skilled at serving up craft cocktails homemade tonics, premium spirits, fine wines and a delectable food menu
...inside you will find original photographs and love letters between Sir Winston Churchill and his beloved wife Clementine adorning the walls of the luxe, art deco inspired interior, while the year-round outdoor, heated terrace offers an inviting hideaway from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Guests can not only dine alfresco amid a life-size bronze of a young Churchill, but can also enjoy original artworks depicting Churchill, by prodigious artist and cartoonist Zoom Rockman, as they snuggle up on the heated year-round terrace or enjoy a cigar, supplied by the UK’s leading Cuban cigar importer Hunters & Frankau.

Fed and watered, it is fair to say that we slept well, mustering up enough energy for the comprehensive challenges of the morning breakfast table!

True to its chic location, a host of stylish shops and boutiques are only a short walk from the hotel and guests who book the Discover Marylebone package receive a range of benefits and discounts at much-loved locally based brands. Even the hotel concierge offers a free pick-up service in Marylebone for shoppers as part of the package!

Some of the discounts include:

Daniel Galvin’s flagship Marylebone hair salon is offering a complimentary Love Your Highlights Shampoo and Conditioner for anyone booking colouring or cut and blow dry at the salon.
Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill has collaborated with BXR, an exclusive, upscale members-only boxing gym to provide a limited-edition day rate pass to the gym.
Leading wellness brand ELEMIS will welcome guests to their flagship House of ELEMIS, only a short walk from the hotel, and a luxurious townhouse where spa meets science meets skin. Guests can book any tailored treatment and receive 20% off.

But for those more concentrated on all things ‘art’ there is The Wallace Collection.
“Is that where they have the cartoon dog you told me about?” quizzed my wife, more used to the rigours of Manila’s crazy traffic than British culture.

“No, that’s Wallace and Gromit, darling. Totally different.”

“So there’ll be no Wensleydale cheese because I love cheese?”

“I’m afraid not but you’ll still enjoy it I think.”

She did, and so did I, immensely!

In fact, it was hard not to because The Wallace Collection, literally a stone’s throw from the hotel, is set within an imposing eighteenth century mansion and houses one of the finest and most celebrated art collections in the world. Arranged across 30 galleries, fine and decorative arts spanning the 15th to 19th centuries, are on display in an extensive and varied collection that includes masterpieces of painting, sculpture, furniture, arms, armour and porcelain. And it’s all free for those who pre-book their ticket!
From Rembrandt to Rubins, you will not be disappointed unless, of course, you are looking for Gromit and a slice of Wensleydale cheese although, I’m sure, the stunning eatery..........
...which dominates the large open space at the heart of the building, would most probably be happy to oblige!

“All this talk of cheese has made me hungry,” said my wife.

“Then we’d better head back to the hotel,” I said, “dinner in The Montagu Kitchen has been booked for 7.30pm and we don’t want to be late.”

Fortunately our waiter Joseph from Portugal was probably the nicest guy this side of Christendom and even if we had been late – which we weren’t – I felt sure he would have packaged our tardiness as a distinct benefit to the hotel!

“I love to talk,” he confided and, since we did too, the three of us seemingly chatted for ever until he decided that discretion was the better part of valour and declared: “I will now leave you to enjoy your meal!”, which we did and it was faultless.
The Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill is a large, majestic hotel inspired by the ‘legend’ that is Sir Winston Churchill. However, there is an intimacy – inspired I have to say by its courteous, almost ‘homely’ staff – that pervades this beautiful property. Churchill may have died in 1965, a full five years before the hotel opened, however, in these trying times when, ‘travel’ seems like a distant memory, it is perhaps useful to hark back to one of his famous quotes from 1931:

“THE GLORY OF LIGHT CANNOT EXIST WITHOUT ITS SHADOWS.”


Times may be a little murky and, perhaps, the sky overly dark, but there is light at the end of the tunnel and the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill stands with its hospitality torch burning brightly, ready to dish up a sumptuous menu of post-covid delights that are sure to lift even the most tired of spirits!

The ‘Discover Marylebone’ package, available to book now, is priced from £315 for a standard double room for one night, including private pick up from Marylebone or Paddington Station (or car parking), room service breakfast, choice of cooking masterclass or picnic (for two), private visit to Thompson’s Gallery, Mary-Le-Bone Gin and Tonic and access to the exclusive offers in the local area.

The hotel is currently only open for business travellers with all outlets closed until Tier 4 is lifted.


Further details: www.hyattregencylondon.com. Reservations: lonch-rfp@hyatt.com.