‘All will be well’ as Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill unveils refurbed event spaces
“All will be well” is the title of a book of ‘Good Advice from Winston Churchill’, handed out to some visitors by the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill. It seems apposite today with the exciting news of vaccines soon to be administered to halt this dreadful pandemic.
(Although the full quote for those interested in these things appears less sensible in the current situation: “Live dangerously; take things as they come; dread naught, all will be well.”)
I have long been wanting to know how large hotel chains have been faring in this extraordinary year. Most of the media has focused on smaller independent hospitality businesses and the international hotel groups have been noticeably quiet. But for business hotels, particularly in our major cities such as London, so dependent on international business, life has inevitably been tough.
When an invite came through from the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill to visit and see how it’s been coping, I jumped at the chance. It felt remarkably good to be forced to don a dress – I’m not yet ready for waistbands – and jump on an empty train for a real-life physical assignment.
The central London hotel, located in Marylebone on Portman Square, just off Oxford Street, has been open for residential stays and day use for business travellers since September. And from the moment you enter the reassuring calm of this five-star property, with a regime in place involving temperature checks, keycard entrance, ‘knock and drop’ room service and leaving each room for 72 hours between guests, it feels like not only a very safe environment but an excellent place to escape the demands of WFH.
With most shops closed during my visit, an expensive outing to Selfridges Food Hall, a two-minute walk from the hotel, provided a welcome diversion.
The hotel’s brand new Churchill Residential Suite has remained open for business travel throughout – and with four bedrooms, a dining room, living room and an office based on Sir Winston Churchill’s own office, this provides a very stylish base from which to work for those that still have the budget. Well-versed in hosting all manner of VIPs, the dedicated suite team encourages guests to share their bespoke requirements ahead of the chauffeur-driven transfers, private elevators and personalised amenities. In-suite dining can be provided by executive chef Roger Olson and private music performances on the suite’s grand piano can also be arranged.
Taking a positive approach to the bleak months of 2020, Arnaud de Saint-Exupery, GM of Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill and area VP for Hyatt UK & Ireland, says: “2019 was a fantastic year for all of Hyatt’s UK hotels and 2020 was shaping up to follow suit. This was of course halted by Covid-19 in the early spring and, since then, adaptation has proven vital for survival.
“As a brand, the pandemic has encouraged us to rethink and innovate, on both a regional and global scale, and we have accelerated developments which were already in the pipeline. In normal times, these changes would have taken far longer to process and implement, so in a way, this has been a positive step for Hyatt and our team have adapted fantastically. There have been a number of trends which we’ve had to adapt to, including a shift towards short-term bookings and a need to focus on booking channel initiatives.”
The hotel embarked on the refurbishment of event spaces in January and these are ongoing. Due to open in early 2021, a new space will provide additional flexibility and hold a total of 132 standing or 252 in conjunction with other rooms. These capacities will be reduced while social distancing measures are in place.
Other event spaces in this stylish, understated property include the recently refurbished Library, seating up to 30 people and home to a large collection of books related to the former PM. Part of the redesign provides new access to the Chartwell Ballroom. Other spaces available for booking now are the Chartwell Ballroom, Marlborough, Spencer and Blenheim rooms.
While the Churchill theme is used throughout the hotel and is clearly a bonus for many international guests, it is subtly and stylishly done.
Following London being moved into Tier 3 level restrictions, The Churchill Bar & Terrace, The Montagu Kitchen and the lovely Alpine-styled outdoor pop-up Montagu Winter Terrace have had to close again.
Says hotel manager Frederic Le Gallois: “’We’re pleased that events are now able to go ahead safely, with all new health, cleanliness and distancing measures in place. As an early adopter of the GBAC certification, we are not only delighted that the industry is now able to host business meetings and social gatherings, but we are confident that we will provide an amazing experience, in a brand new environment, where delegates and invitees will respectively just have to focus on business or pleasure and good time.”
And in the meantime, in the words of the great man himself: “We must just KBO.”
Words by M&IT associate editor, Sally Trelford.