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A great value for Hyatt points in the heart of the UK’s capital, the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill was a sophisticated setting for a summer stay. Pros: Large rooms, good award availability, central location. Cons: Wild room rate fluctuations, generic room décor, small gym.
With around 900 properties worldwide, Hyatt is among the smallest of the major hotel chains. It’s strengthening its portfolio of partner properties around the globe through acquisitions like that of Two Roads Hospitality and its developing relationship with Small Luxury Hotels of the World, but it can still be tough to find a property to earn and redeem World of Hyatt points in certain destinations.
Luckily, London is not one of those. While it’s nothing compared to the nearly 40 hotels Marriott fields around the city, Hyatt does have 11 partner properties in and around central London and out by Heathrow.
On a recent trip to the city, I lucked out and was able to use my World of Hyatt points to score a free night at one of the chain’s mainstays, the Hyatt Regency London The Churchill. Here’s how my experience rated.
During my booking search, which spanned a few nights in late June, starting room rates fluctuated from $350 per night all the way up to $800. That seems to be the case for much of the year. I found that this was not even because there were only suites or higher-category rooms available some nights — the $800 rate was for a standard room.
I ended up needing to book a night where room rates were at the top of that range, but there was still award availability. This is a Hyatt Category 6 hotel, so I was able to book an award night for 25,000 points, though that meant I could not use the anniversary free night from my World of Hyatt Credit Card for the redemption, since that only ranges up to Category 4 (15,000 points). But I had a stock of points, so I was happy to redeem some of those instead. The points-and-cash rate was not available.
The Hyatt Regency London The Churchill is on picturesque Portman Square in the midst of the tony Marylebone district. Although many of the surrounding streets are residential or have old houses with small offices in them, there are a lot of cafes, restaurants and stores nearby.
The hotel is a short walk to Marble Arch, near the northeast corner of Hyde Park. I found it very easy to purchase an Oyster Card and then take the city’s buses and the Tube to get everywhere I needed to go, whether it was the British Museum in Bloomsbury, a little luxury shopping in Knightsbridge, a show in the West End or dinner with friends in Notting Hill. In fact, I did not end up taking any taxis or Ubers during my visit. You can also walk to Oxford Street for shopping quite easily.
To get to the hotel after arriving at London Heathrow (LHR), I took the Heathrow Express to Paddington Station. Then, since I’d been stuck on a plane for around 11 hours, I decided to walk the mile or so to the hotel, which was through very pleasant neighborhoods. Thanks to fortuitous train timing and a brisk pace, I got from the airport to the hotel in just about an hour.
The hotel originally opened in 1970 and has been a Loews and InterContinental in its lifetime. It became a Hyatt Regency in 2004 and has remained so ever since. It underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation and fully reopened in January 2017 with 440 redecorated rooms and suites.
I was walking and wheeling my carry-on suitcase when I arrived. I strolled up the driveway off Portman Square, and one of the bellmen spotted me immediately, offering to take both my suitcase and backpack. After asking my name, he then led me inside to the reception desks and introduced me to the agents working there so they could check me in. He asked if I required assistance up to the room, and I declined, so he left my bags with me.
Although I arrived at 1pm, well before the 3pm check-in time, the friendly agent helping me said that there was a standard room with a king bed (the room type I’d booked) already available and that I could head right up. She offered to add breakfast to my room in the hotel’s main restaurant to my bill for 24 pounds ($30), but I declined, since I figured I could go to a neighboring coffee shop in the morning.
After familiarizing me with the hotel’s amenities, including its restaurants and the location of the gym, she handed over my room key and pointed me to the elevators.
The elevator bank was in the center of the building between the two main wings.
My room was way down at the end of one of the halls, which was nice, since it effectively made it a corner room. It actually adjoined the room next door, though you could lock the door on your room’s side.
One note here: I could hear not only every time my neighbors came and went, but practically every word of any conversation they had when they were in the room, despite the fact that a foyer and the bathroom separated my bedroom from the wall to theirs. I’m not sure if this is something the hotel can solve, or if it’s as much of an issue in other rooms, but it definitely colored my whole experience.
At 270 square feet, the room felt spacious from the entrance, with a small corridor and a wall mirror separating the front door from the bedroom.
The king bed was dressed in plain white linens and had a tufted suede headboard. Beds in some rooms were supposed to have headboards with a pinstripe pattern that alluded to Churchill’s signature suits.
There was no desk, but there was a chaise lounge next to the window.
Nightstands to either side of the bed each held a bottle of water. One of them had a clock, while the other had a phone on it.
On the wall opposite the bed were the 42-inch television, a credenza with the minibar and the “closet.”
The minibar included complimentary instant coffee, tea and an electric kettle.
As well as a minifridge with water, sodas, spirits and beer.
The closet was basically a rack with two shelves and a bar with hangers for clothes. On the wall closest to the bathroom was another similar setup with drawers and the safe.
Speaking of the bathroom, it felt a little drab, thanks to mostly gray stone accents. There was a single sink with limited counter space. One of my other hotel pet peeves? There was no outlet for the hair dryer here, so I had to find a plug in the main room then stretch the cord to its utmost in order to use the hall mirror.
The walk-in shower was half glassed-in and had an overhead shower head and a handheld one.
The toiletries were from Pharmacopia’s argan oil line.
My view looked south onto Seymour Street and was relatively quiet.
The free Wi-Fi worked well.
Overall, the room was comfortable, if not remarkable. While $350 per night seems reasonable for something like this in London, $800 is totally off base.
Food and Beverage
The hotel had two restaurants and a bar. The main restaurant, Montagu Kitchen, was on the other side of the lobby from reception and the concierge. There was a casual lounge with low tables and then the more formal section of the dining room closer to the street. Breakfast cost 24 pounds ($30) and ran from 6:30am to 11:00 am, Monday to Friday, and 7am to 11am on weekends. Lunch, dinner and afternoon tea were all served, too.
The menus were all upscale continental fare, like smoked salmon with horseradish cream, dill oil, sliced cucumber and rye croutons; Dingley Dell pork belly with cider-marinated red chicory and Kent apple jus; whole dover sole and various cuts of 21-day dry-aged beef cooked on the Josper Grill; and classic desserts like rhubarb trifle with Kentish cream and sticky date pudding with vanilla ice cream. Prices were moderate to high, running from 10 pounds to 39 pounds ($12 to $50).
There were two afternoon tea selections: your usual one served with various baked goods and tea sandwiches for 30 pounds (about $40) and a Champagne version that included a glass of Pommery Brut Royal for 37 pounds ($45).
Past the restaurant, and with its own entrance off Seymour Street, was The Churchill Bar & Terrace. The art deco look was by design firm Spinocchia Freund. I especially loved the shelves stacked with memorabilia, including portraits of Churchill and his family, original letters between Churchill and his wife, Clementine, and a selection of books specifically chosen and supplied by Daunt Books.
The bar had an outdoor terrace, complete with a sculpture of Winston Churchill by Lawrence Holofcener. After 4pm, there was a 30 pounds ($35) per person minimum to drink out there, but that shouldn’t be hard to burn through. The classic cocktails cost around 16 pounds ($20) each and included Winston’s Summer Cup with Luxardo sour cherry gin, white cacao, lemon juice and Pedrino Ruby tonic; and the Aristocratini with Stoli Elit, Cocchi Americano, orange bitters and sugar-preserved olives. There was a small food menu, including a few pasta dishes, various sandwiches and burgers and fish with prices ranging from 8 pounds to 23 pounds ($10 to $30).
For the summer, the bar was running a Cuban-themed food-and-drink menu. The specialty cocktails included a variety of daiquiris (of course) as well as creative concoctions like the Miel de Mango for 16 pounds ($20) with bee-pollen-infused Talisker 10-year whisky, Tio Pepe sherry, Noilly Prat vermouth, homemade falernum syrup, pineapple juice, lime juice, Earl Grey tea and a mango meringue foam. There were also Cuban cigars.
Given my short stay and meetings, my one regret was not going into Churchill for a drink. So many of the cocktails sounded interesting, and the overall ambience looked clubby but casual.
The other restaurant inside the hotel was an Italian fine-dining establishment named Locanda Locatelli, which had a Michelin star. It was not actually run by the hotel, and, like the Churchill Bar, you could enter separately off the street.
Amenities and Service
Aside from the restaurants and meeting rooms, which were also redone during the renovation, the hotel’s other main amenity was the gym down on the second floor.
In addition to large photos of the hotel’s namesake, it contained a small selection of cardio equipment and a stand with free weights.
The other interesting element was a small shop in the lobby devoted to Winston Churchill memorabilia. It sold all kinds of souvenirs, including T-shirts, bow ties, cufflinks and books, and was a fun little touch.
Interestingly, guests were supposed to be able to borrow a key from reception so they could access the park at Portman Square, which is usually only open to locals. It had a children’s playground and a tennis court. No one informed me of that during my stay, though.
The Hyatt Regency London The Churchill was a great option for my one-night London stay. Not only was it easy to get to from London Heathrow, but its central location meant I could take public transportation cheaply and easily to reach any part of the city I needed to visit. The staff I interacted with were all friendly and professional, and the room, though perhaps not inspiring, was spacious and comfortable.
I wish there’d been a less expensive breakfast option, but at least there were plenty of nearby cafes and restaurants. Next time, I definitely intend to stop by The Churchill Bar & Terrace for a cocktail. If you plan to stay yourself, be sure to compare room rates across dates so you can either put your World of Hyatt points to use, or find rates toward the lower end of the paid range.
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