By Mayleen Ramey
Through my exploration of secret garden tennis courts in London, I had heard about one in Portman Square and was determined to find a way to play there. I know these private courts are exclusively for residents of the square and soon discovered the Hyatt Regency London - The Churchill was among a handful of hotels in all of London, offering access to this highly-coveted experience for their guests. So, I decide to Stay & Play here!
The Hyatt Regency London - The Churchill is an elegant, five-star hotel in Marylebone, a charming borough in Central London that is nestled between Mayfair, Soho and Regent's Park. The property is modern, yet thoughtfully traditional, inspired by the life and interests of its namesake, Winston Churchill.
Upon checking into my room, greeted with special welcome gifts and the best view (of the court!), the first thing on my agenda was visiting the garden. After a quick change, I was escorted by concierge across the road with the coveted key, to the black iron gate with a lantern that has been intact since it was built in the 1800’s.
The buzzing of cars and street noise instantly seem to vanish as you step inside the lush landscape, like entering another realm. The first thing you notice is the sheer size of the space, enveloped with a canopy of green. The garden square is a sizable 2.47 acres and appears to stretch on endlessly, which I would never have grasped as a passerby on the other side of the fence.
With a massive grin on my face, I followed the path passed an enormous bronze sculpture, directly onto the tarmac. This tennis court, unlike some others in garden squares, isn’t hidden behind ivy or stealthily tucked into the back of the square. It’s the first thing you notice, proudly on display.
The magic of these courts is being able to play in the middle of London, noticing the people, cars and buildings peeking out from beyond the trees. It feels as though you've found a secret entrance in a bookshelf and have made it your own tennis hideaway.
Once inside the feeling is tranquil and warm. There are children running in the playground, people picnicking and lounging in the grass, but at a noticeably quieter decibel like at a museum or somewhere revered. There’s a sense of communal respect and appreciation for this sacred space.
In addition to the tennis court, flower-lined pathways and open lawns, you'll also find a ping pong table. I could have spent hours here, playing and picnicking, reading and relaxing, trying to escape the rest of the world for as long as possible.
Playing tennis on a secret garden court in London is an incredibly special experience. While the prestigious private clubs like the Queen's Club or the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club (Wimbledon) are bucketlist-worthy, garden square courts seem even more exclusive and guarded, in a way. In my ten years of living part-time in London, I only recently discovered their existence by hearing tennis balls being hit as I was walking by. This year I actively started seeking out these hidden gems and how to play on them, which was a feat in itself. I was overjoyed to have found the Churchill, making this tennis dream a reality.
For a detailed account of my experience at the Hyatt Regency London - The Churchill, visit STAY & PLAY. You'll find highlights from my getaway, as well as my favorite jaunt in Marylebone. If you're inspired to plan a tennis getaway of your own at the Churchill, check here for availability.
📍 Portman Square Garden
W1H 6LJ, United Kingdom
▪️ private tennis court
▪️ gated, keyed entry
▪️ 1 tennis court
▪️ ping pong table
▪️ reservation required
▪️ Book a room at the Hyatt Regency London - The Churchill to play here
▪️ The hotel can provide balls and racquets
▪️ This court is also accessible to members and guests of Home House (private members club)
▪️ For a hitting partner or coach, use ACEIFY, an app for booking private lessons and courts throughout London