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Cocktails with Churchill in Narnia by Maggie O'Sullivan

Posted in FOOD + DRINK By Maggie O' Sullivan

Just before Christmas I took my eldest goddaughter to Narnia. But there were no lions, witches or wardrobes: our Narnia was the terrace bar of the Hyatt Regency Churchill hotel, transformed into C S Lewis’s magical world for the festive season. Instead of Aslan the lion, we had a life-size bronze of Sir Winston Churchill which someone had thoughtfully dressed in a woolly hat and scarf.The Churchill, you might recall, is where Barack Obama stayed when he visited London in 2008. Despite its name and a meticulously themed bar that pays homage to a young Winston and his wife, Clementine, the hotel has no actual connection with the former British prime minister. It has no connection with C S Lewis either, but that hasn’t stopped it from combining the two in a winter wonderland. Still, if Selfridges can have a forest on its rooftop terrace, The Churchill can have its Narnia.I arrived in Narnia (the distinctly prosaic instructions from Reception were ‘right at the fireplace and left through the bar’) to find my goddaughter already snuggled up under a hotel blanket. Above her head an infrared heater was blasting out much-needed warmth, while all around pretty silvered twigs shone in the candle light. True, we couldn’t help but notice the traffic that passed within a few feet of where we were sitting, and the sheepskin-draped chairs gave the terrace more of a mountain chic vibe than one of a mythical kingdom, but the whole affect was charming nonetheless.So as shoppers in nearby Oxford Street made their last-minute purchases, we worked our way through Narnia’s extensive drinks menu. Once again, the theme was distinctly Churchill-meets-Pevensie-children with cocktails bearing names like ‘Never Give In’, ‘Breakfast in Blenheim’, ‘Always Winter, Never Christmas’ and ‘Aslan’s Roar’. While we were deciding, the waiter brought us a couple of furry hot water bottles.Service in Narnia was not the speediest, but eventually we took delivery of a British Raj Mohito poured from a vintage silver teapot, and The Ice Queen, which came topped with an impressive spun-sugar crown. Both were extremely good though our second choices were even more successful: a Hedgerow Bramble teapot cocktail for me, and The White Witch for my goddaughter. Prices, at £16-£17, were reasonable for a London five-star, though complimentary nibbles were just this side of stingy, comprising a glass of cheese straws (which wasn’t replenished) and a bowl of olives.We called it a night after two cocktails (there is a minimum charge of £25, so you might as well have a couple), agreeing that our Christmas trip to Narnia had been a great success – though one of us will have to read the books again to discover exactly how Winston Churchill fits in.

Further information, Hyatt Regency London – The Churchill

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