Review: Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill

Introduction

I was recently in London for two non-consecutive nights as a bookend to a trip to Scotland, and saw this as a perfect opportunity to try two chain-standard hotels that seemed like they could be a cut above the rest.

Both Ben and Tiffany have both expressed their frustration with the London hotel market (or, at least, the hotel market for points-friendly chains), and on the surface, looking at rates for the dates I needed, I initially shared the frustration. London hotels are expensive. Even booking through American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts wouldn’t have offered me anywhere close to a value proposition.

It’s true that there’s no technical luxury flagship brand for any of the big-three hotel chains — no St. Regis, no Ritz-Carlton, no Waldorf-Astoria, and no Park Hyatt — so the loyalty chain choices aren’t as obvious.

However, with some sleuthing on TripAdvisor, I discovered there were three chain hotels that clearly stood above the rest — (1) the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill, which is on Portman Square (in the nether region between Mayfair, Marble Arch and Marylebone, but essentially a block from Oxford Street); (2) the Conrad, which is in St. James’s, closer to Westminster; and (3) the Marriott Park Lane, just on the other side of Oxford Street from the Hyatt and squarely in Mayfair. (I’ve stayed at the Andaz Liverpool Street before and found it just okay, but I ruled it out because I wanted to be nearer to Heathrow Airport.)

I ruled out the Conrad since I didn’t find its location to be particularly useful for my needs, but instead I booked a Club-level room at the Hyatt Regency for 33,000 Gold Passport — ugh, er, World of Hyatt — points, and I booked a standard room at the Marriott London Park Lane for 45,000 Marriott Rewards points.

For this review, I’ll focus on the Hyatt Regency, and tomorrow I’ll review the Marriott Park Lane. Both options are well above the brand standard for a regular “Hyatt Regency” or a “Marriott.” One of them simply wowed me.

Exterior of the Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill

Check In

The Hyatt Regency London — The Churchill (let’s just agree to call it the Hyatt Regency Churchill) is conveniently located on Portman Square, about a 5-minute Uber ride from Paddington Station, the terminus of the Heathrow Express. I was at the hotel well within an hour of landing, which, for London, is impressive.

The building is a fairly unsplendid midcentury brick block, although it’s been recently renovated following a small gas explosion in 2014. The lobby is small but attractive, although since I had booked a Regency Club level room, I took the elevators straight to the 8th floor (Club level) for check-in.

Regency Club level guest hallway

The check-in process was easy enough, and I was assigned a room just down the hall on the 8th floor. However, the room was not what I expected based on photographs of the hotel’s renovation. In fact, the Club level room was tiny, unrenovated (or at least, unrefreshed based on photos of the hotel decor) and had a view directly on to a construction site.

Regency Club level room
Regency Club level room
Regency Club level room
Regency Club level room

I returned to the desk and asked if my Platinum — er, Discoverist — status was able to earn me an upgrade to a bit bigger of a room, or at least one with more of a view. The agent was able to re-assign me to a room on the fourth floor, albeit with continued access to the Regency Club given my room key.

The Room

My guestroom on the fourth floor was leagues better than the Club level room initially assigned to me, and I was actually a bit confused that the Club level rooms hadn’t been given the same refresh. My room overlooked Portman Square and was bright.

Foyer in my newly renovated guestroom

The room was smartly designed and decorated, with the guestrooms and hallways of the newly refreshed portions of the hotel being nods to Winston Churchill, the hotel’s namesake. Carpets were gray herringbone and the walls were light gray and ever-so-subtly “masculine” without being overtly so.

Guestroom artwork
Guestroom overview
Guestroom desk area

The furniture in the room had nods to the art deco vibe of the immediately surrounding neighborhood, and the bed felt — and was — plush.

Guestroom detail

The artwork in the room was thoughtful and playful, without being whimsical in the Andaz or W sense. This was in stark contrast to my un-renovated 8th floor room, which had bare walls.

Guestroom artwork

The bathroom was on the smaller side, but smartly laid out, and felt modern and clean. The room was equipped with Pharmacopia toiletries, which seem to be standard for the upper tier of Hyatt Regency properties (the Hyatt Regency Kyoto has them, for instance), although Regency Club rooms are provided with Molton Brown amenities, which are a personal favorite.

Guestroom bathroom
Shower detail

I called down and had Molton Brown toiletries delivered — they brought me an entire sack full of them! I always love excess amenities, although it did seem a bit disorganized that they brought them in what looked like a plastic trash bag.

Molton Brown toiletries

Perhaps my favorite part of the bathroom was the Toto Japanese-style toilet, which I love.

Toto toilet

The room looked directly out onto Portman Square, and — given that it was a warm, sunny day in London — it felt quite bright and airy.

View from guestroom

Regency Club Lounge

The Regency Club at the Hyatt Regency Churchill is actually comprised of two separate lounges flanking the reception and check-in area; from the elevator bank to the right is the “family” lounge, and to the left is the adults-only lounge. Because it was a bank holiday in Britain, and spring break for kids everywhere, the family lounge was understandably more crowded, so I visited the adults lounge — in the evening, for a quick look, and the following morning for breakfast.

Regency Club adult lounge

The lounge was spacious and decorated in warm gray tones consistent with the public spaces elsewhere in the hotel. There was a library wall of magazines, which I appreciated.

Regency Club adult lounge

Food and beverages were set off in a small room to the side of the “library” area, which, at breakfast, got congested fairly quickly. In the evenings, a nice spread of cheeses, hors d’ouevres, and desserts was set up, along with self-serve wine and liquor. Beer, soft drinks and soda are in the refrigerators below. (And the beer stays in the fridges so long as the lounge is open.)

Regency Club food display
Regency Club food display
Regency Club evening drink selection
Regency Club chilled drinks

In the evening, there was maybe enough food between chips and salsa, cheeses, meats and such to cobble together a dinner, in a pinch, although with so many terrific cafes and restaurants just out the door, eating in the lounge would seem like a waste.

At breakfast the following morning, the lounge was far more crowded, although I still found it easy enough to grab a table. I wouldn’t say the breakfast spread was impressive, though there was the usual assortment of savory breakfast breads, pastries and smoked salmon. Other than hard boiled eggs, the one egg option was pre-assembled eggs benedict, which were served tepid and rubbery.

Regency Club breakfast display

Overall, I found the lounge to be quiet, tastefully decorated, and comfortable. I was happy to put together a little breakfast in the morning, but none of the food selections were especially satisfying. Still, it was better than almost any lounge at a domestic Hyatt.

Location

The Hyatt Regency in London is well-located on Portman Square, just off of busy Oxford Street and an easy walk to quietly hip Marylebone. Better still, it was less than a five-minute Uber ride from Paddington Station, where the Heathrow Express terminates. It’s actually even quite walkable to Paddington, though maybe a bit less so with luggage. Certainly, London is a multi-nodal city so if your business brings you to the City’s financial district, or if you’re keen to shop in Knightsbridge and Chelsea and sightsee at the museums in South Kensington, or if you’re a trendsetter focused on the latest goings-on in Shoreditch or Spitalfields, the location at the edge of Mayfair and Paddington and Marylebone isn’t especially convenient. However, for most tourists, the easy access to Hyde Park, Soho and the West End is ideal.

Service

Service at the Hyatt Regency was prompt, efficient and for the most part quite cordial, although I wouldn’t necessarily describe the service as “warm.” It seems like the exact sort of service you’d expect and want from a higher end business hotel, and most of my interactions were with employees at the Regency Club, who were terrific. I didn’t have much occasion to interact with employees in the lobby or in the hotel restaurant, but the doormen were friendly and quite helpful with directions.

Hyatt Regency Churchill Bottom Line

This is a solid hotel, especially for a Hyatt Regency. It certainly exceeded my expectations for a Regency-branded property, and I thought the location and service levels were absolutely above par. I did find it strange that the Regency Club-level room, at 33,000 points a night, was actually quite a bit dowdier and less refreshed than the non-Club level room I’d transferred to, which would have been, by comparison, 25,000 points a night. The hotel did not strike me as under renovation, so there must have been a conscious choice on the hotel’s part to differentiate the decor between the Club level and elsewhere. Unfortunately, the difference was a difference of quality, and while the Club level was unimpressive, I have to give Hyatt credit that the regular rooms were downright luxurious.

Overall, I wouldn’t hesitate to stay there again, particularly since it was a comparative bargain using World of Hyatt points. That said, at paid rates I might consider more boutique options with a bit more charm and character, since the Hyatt was, at the end of the day, very much reflective of a chain hotel, albeit a very, very nice one.  And while it’s a terrific Hyatt in an expensive European city, I wouldn’t use it for two free nights on a Hyatt Credit Card when there are Park Hyatts in Paris, Milan, and Vienna — among other places — that represent much better splurges.

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Comments

  1. Wait, you think those first pictures show a tiny room? Clearly you’ve never stayed at a hotel in London before. That is a large room in London.

  2. I don’t understand why you would consider Hyatt part of the “big 3” hotel chains and not IHG and the Intercontinental London – Park Lane. I would also suggest that Conrad is a luxury brand alongside Waldorf Astoria, not below them, just different. In virtually all locations, it exceeds a similarly located Marriott or Hyatt Regency.

  3. Nice review.

    Rates can get up there, it is London after all. But C+P does open up – I keep a sharp eye out for them 🙂

    FYI, there was a basement gas-line explosion at the property in November, ’14. No deaths, but several injuries. The entire property was closed immediately (and as many guests as possible were re-accommodated to the Andaz Liverpool Street, but it was a major disruption for many travelers without a doubt.).

    After a several months, once it was determined to be safe to do so, they re-opened the club-level floors and the lobby. Consequently, capacity at the hotel was greatly diminished. A major was renovation was decided upon, with work commencing on the 1st through 7th floors first. Once those were completed, work begins on the Club level floors. The idea here being to maintain club access during the renovation, and when it comes time to attack the club floors themselves, the majority of the hotel’s capacity will have been renovated/updated.

    Whilst I have not yet stayed in a renovated room there, I have been a guest at the Churchill many times, and I do love the hotel. They treat me very well, and I am recognized on each return visit. I love the bar and it’s staff. The Club can get crowded (best to go earlier in the morning), but the breakfast is ample to start the day. I do have a favorite resto around the corner that is my go-to for a full breakfast in that neighborhood.

    As to the Andaz, it is also a solid choice and I have been there many times as well. The Eastway breakfast is great, with a ground-level street-side window view to the world as you nosh. The 1901 buffet spread is also quite good, and a really nice interior space as well. I actually find the hotel quite convenient (and you’ll find the East End has quite a lot to offer once you’re over the ‘touristy usual suspects’). You can grab the Metropolitan Line a mere few steps away form the front of the hotel, and within 10-15 min be at Paddington to grab the HEX.

  4. Sad to see these types of options dying as the “2 free nights” credit card bonuses go away. Really nice way to have some special trips without burning through transferable points. By my count the Fairmont, Hilton and Hyatt cards have all ended the free night sign-up bonuses this year.

    Used the Hilton Reserve nights 2 years ago at the Conrad. I could see how the location might not work well because it is tucked away between St. James Park and the Thames. But the Tube access across the street from the hotel made getting around very easy, and walking along the Thames was a beautiful way to end our nights.

  5. @Rico, oddly enough, though there is a Waldorf in London, it is not a Waldorf Astoria, it is a regular Hilton hotel. Bad news for those expecting the WA standard of luxury, but good news for elites who get breakfast included there that is not included at most WA brand hotels.

  6. When not booking with points, The Churchill can be booked with Travel Leaders Select amenities through a TA with that affiliation.

    Complimentary Buffet breakfast for two daily
    Complimentary early check-in and late check-out upon availability
    Complimentary upgrade upon availability at time of check-in
    65 GBP Food & Beverages Voucher
    Complimentary basic Wi-Fi

  7. Technically, there is a Ritz hotel in London, but it’s not participating in Marriott/RC Rewards.

  8. @farnorthtrader Ah, no wonder there was a lounge with breakfast, afternoon tea and a happy hour at the Waldorf in London and I didn’t get squat as a diamond at the Waldorf ASTORIA in Edinburgh.

  9. @ptahcha @Rico: In what can only be described as a confusing state of circumstances, there is a Waldorf Hilton in London but it’s not a Waldorf-Astoria property (simply the former Waldorf hotel, named long ago after William Waldorf Astor, 1st Viscount Astor… and you can guess where the name of the original “Waldorf=Astoria” came from, too). There is a Ritz Hotel in London named after hotelier Cesar Ritz, and the Ritz-Carlton hotel chain as we know it capitalizes on Ritz’s good name but was founded in 1983. Marriott/Ritz-Carlton forged a marketing relationship with the Ritz London and the Ritz Lisbon, but they are independently owned and managed. Frankly, it’s a smart move on both Hilton and Marriott’s parts to align themselves with the original namesakes somehow to reduce confusion and boost both brands.

    That said, the Ritz London is not a Marriott property at all, and the Waldorf Hilton is just a plain ol’ mainline Hilton.

  10. +1 to what mojo said – I initially missed an opportunity to book Hyatt cash&points, but it re-emerged a few weeks (maybe 2-3?) later. It’s a steal – 115 pounds +12500 points per night. We are spending three nights there in July and it will cost us ~$400 and 37500 points, not even the cost for a single night normally at the hotel. We are excited and pleased to hear such a good review.

    We need one night near Victoria Station and to find anything decent and reasonable is easily $350+. Hilton points is a joke – 150k+, my measly 50K points might take $50 off the price. Ridiculous.

  11. 1) I assume that many of the people assigned to the club-floor are on award stays, hence the slightly older rooms. I doubt anyone on a cash stay actually receives the older room, which looks indistinguishable from a Hyatt in any suburb back home.
    2) The J.W. Marriott Grosvenor House is on par with a Ritz-Carlton in terms of service and amenities.
    3) Hotels in London may be expensive, but I find you get much better service than New York, Washington and San Francisco — three other markets with absurdly expensive hotels.

    I’ve heard others say that Marriott has a relationship with the Ritz-London and Ritz-Lisbon but I’ve never seen either hotel appear on Marriott.com as booking options.

  12. Having stayed at the Churchill both before and after the gas explosion I can say I prefer the regular floors over the club floors. We’ve been fortunate to have a fantastic view of Portman Square each time. Yes the bathroom is a bit small but it’s nicely done. We have been fortunate to have our breakfast in the restaurant downstairs instead of the lounge (not a big fan) so we had the buffet as well as the cooked to order items.

    The service has always been exceptional for us and the people very nice. We’ve also stayed at the Andaz quite a few times as well (my Husband’s preference) but I’ll take The Churchill any day.

  13. This and the Le Meridien Piccadilly are my 2 go-to hotels in London, where I travel fairly frequently. Hyatt is definitely the nicer of the two, but location is a bit more remote from everything. A couple items to note:
    1. The Churchill Bar is quaint and has character, but they forbid laptops after 6pm. As one who often works til midnight while sipping a glass of wine, I found this quite objectionable. I now have a blanket dispensation to work in the Bar after taking this up with the management.
    2. Unlike most hotel lounges in London, the Club Lounge at the Hyatt is a cut above. The wine is drinkable and they bring chef’s special creations around to the guests in the club in the evening, in addition to what’s on the food station. Overall I find the lounge comfortable with a bit of character, but weak compared to Asian hotel lounges.
    3. They used to have these great Winston statuettes all over the hotel, but they must have been frequently stolen as now they only place you can find them is in the gift shop post-gas explosion/renovation.
    4. I’ve stayed at the Conrad in St. James many times, but prefer the Hyatt. Especially true since Hilton had their massive devaluation (cue DCS with more defensive diatribe…)
    5. As an English speaker, you will most definitely be in the minority at the Hyatt :-). It’s a popular hangout for the ME crowd (near Mayfair, so…)
    6. The Park at Portman Square is greener than green and a nice place to hang, but the gates are locked to keep out the riff raff. But you can gain access as a hotel guest by simply asking the concierge.

    Ron

  14. This is my new favorite Hyatt!

    I have been to the family lounge with my family, and the adult lounge solo. I like that they occasionally circulate around with platters with special items that are not on the buffet.

    I had no idea the desks just outside the lounge are another checkin location, I will have to use that next time!

  15. I have stayed a this property several times over the last couple of years but following a stay at the Conrad st James which only occurred due to a conference held in the hotel I have never returned to the Churchill .The difference was worlds apart . The club rooms at the Churchill are dated ,tired ,dark and basically sub par . In comparison The Conrad rooms are spacious ,beautifully finished with spacious bathrooms that are luxuriously finished. The quality of F&B in the executive lounge is superior by a long way . But above all the staff at the Conrad are very professional,polite and friendly .Even though I returned to the Chuchill over and over the service was simply cold and at times flippant.
    Breakfast at The Conrad is perfect both in the executive lounge and the main dining room off the lobby ,nothing is too much trouble ,if requirements are specific the staff will go out of their way to accommodate .
    It is always disappointing when you remain loyal but then discover that loyalty offers no value ,The Conrad is my only choice and his been since that default stay last year.I now feel my loyalty is appreciated unlike Hyatt or should I say WOH !!!

  16. love this hotel and its location. The other hotel i frequent in London is the Marriott Grosvenor Square on Duke Street. Always had good service @ the Churchill.

  17. Nothing makes one more irritating in a hotel to be given an extremely inferior room at the start, then ask for it to be changed, and be shown to a room that is clearly better and nicer and, apparently, was too good for it to have been given to you in the first place.

    Just an utterly degrading experience to know that the front desk knew the room you were getting was lousy, and somehow smiled and said, “and here’s your room key!..” knowing that you could have gotten better, and may have had you not been “not” one of their premier customers, and the desk staff hopes that you won’t complain about the inferior room and smugly thinks, great, I filled one of those, now we’ll keep the good ones for any last-minute VIPs or walk-ups paying more money.

    Degrading.

  18. We stayed there in May and we were disappointed with our stay; the Club used to be so much better. I do love the Molton Brown products. There were 3 of us and we all decided we liked the Andaz more; their upgrades for Globalist are much better and their breakfast is quite good. With Liverpool station being right there, great to any part of London you want to get to.

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