A job change, a winter chill and the lure of sunshine and shopping were all the convincing required (arm-twisted, really) to hop on a plane for a mid-year European getaway. With first-stop London, our jetlag is forgotten as we arrive to find Olympics preparation already in full swing. Union Jack flags line Oxford St and patriotic store windows are festively adorned in red and blue as swarming shoppers seemed oblivious to any indication of an economic downturn.
The Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill sits in the exclusive Portman Square in Central London’s West End. We discover a regal and charming eight storey hotel which exudes understated elegance, and are greeted by quaintly top-hatted butlers before taken to check in on the seventh floor.
The room is an oasis of calm in a hectic city, with scented Molton Brown toiletries emphasising the atmosphere of luxury and class. The shower deserves a mention, as it manages to defy London’s ancient plumbing system with a hearty gush of hot water, with the novelty of separate levers for pressure and temperature.
The Club Lounge on level seven proved an unexpected treat, and we found ourselves unable to drag ourselves away from the various sittings between breakfast and afternoon tea.
A light but sensational breakfast focusing on quality over quantity hit the spot, with a carefully chosen selection of sweet and savoury options. A self-concocted mixture of bircher muesli, fresh fruit, yoghurt and granola was my satisfyingly healthy choice, an energising start to a day of exploring.
The ground floor of the Hyatt Regency boasts a neighbourhood style restaurant that serves traditional British dishes using seasonal produce. I order a succulent lamb and vegetables that is hearty and satisfying, and am unable to resist a margarita from the cocktail menu.
A plate of rich brownies proves an indulgent dessert, a delicious end to a quality meal. An elegant dining experience with simple but well executed fare, the live piano player / singer creates a romantic backdrop for our dinner.
Where to explore?
City strolling – Wander the streets of Notting Hill to browse the hipster boutiques, trendy shops and crafty market stalls that characterise the area. Go to the Hummingbird Bakery on the famous Portobello Road in Notting Hill, where a salivating display of temptation awaits. The bakery sells an average of 22,000 cupcakes per week!
Hello sunshine – A hint of sunshine has a transformational effect on London, a truly solar powered city – stroll through Hyde Park and admire the hoards of sunbathers on public lounge chairs, the kids eating ice creams, the peddle boats on the lake. Suits on their lunch breaks mingle with teenagers on school holidays, while wide-eyed, backpacked tourists snap photos in every colourful direction. Hire a Barclays bike and cycle around the park for the full experience.
Retail therapy – Go shopping on Oxford Street for an overwhelming retail experience, with every large fashion chain represented. The strong Aussie dollar means that equivalent clothes are priced a lot less than those back home – so you’re practically saving the more you spend (or so I tell myself).
Foodie delight – Have lunch at The Tapa Room (under The Providores) in Marylbone Village, a popular restaurant with innovative dishes and a lively atmosphere. Describing itself as a fusion of wine bar, tapas and breakfast bar, it has a subtle New Zealander touch that is testament to the heritage of its head chef, Peter Gordon.
As the main hotel partner of the Frieze Art Fair, the Regency launched the exhibition ‘Making Waves; International Contemporary Art from the Saatchi Gallery’ in the lobby in June 2012. Champagne flowed as guests admired the art of promising emerging artists from the global art world, which will open to guests until October.