Enjoy Champagne & Sparkling Wines by the River Thames with Gillray’s

18th April 2017

The Marriot County Hall Hotel Gillrays

For anyone that enjoys walking the wonderful and diverse streets of London will know very well that Westminster Bridge is one of the busiest spots for tourists. A famous landmark that connects Parliament Square and Westminster Abbey with the London Eye and most importantly, for those seeking culinary and sparkling wine delights, the Marriott County Hall Hotel. The walk from Westminster underground station and over the Westminster Bridge could see you bumping in to 1,000’s of selfie photo taking sightseeing tourists admiring the River Thames, the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, the London Eye and more… Crowds of people pointing cameras, pushing prams, playing bagpipes, handing out leaflets and more set about over whelming you on your journey over Westminster Bridge, but salvation is merely a few footsteps away on the South side of the river as you walk in to the entrance of the Marriott County Hall Hotel with the noise fading and the calmness hitting you immediately.

As you approach the entrance you are immediately acknowledged with a warm greeting from the porters and once inside you are fully relaxed with the luxury interior inviting you to take off your jacket and with the recommendation of the staff to head towards the Gillray’s bar area. This superb lounge area and bar is highly welcoming and you’ve plenty of choice to enjoy comfortable seating to include window seats looking out over the River Thames and towards the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben.

A further warm welcome comes your way as you explore the bar and dining area from the bar manager Cynthia Coomb and this is added to by her staff being well trained to really show a character full of smiles so your daily dose of happy is well fed.

As a person who reviews Champagne and sparkling wines then my first attention is to the wine menu and the list of wines on offer. At the Gillray’s bar there is a comprehensive drinks selection to choose from and if you are a lover of Gin there is an amazing selection on offer, I counted 77 different labels!

Now this visit, like many of my others, is all about tasting wines and cocktails, what the atmosphere is like and how ideal a location the venue is for you to enjoy a glass or two of Champagne / sparkling wine. On this occasion I was joined by Lisa Palmer who is a leading professional dating guru as we also had an agenda planned for deciding which is the best bubbly to enjoy on a first date – Read more here.

From the list of cocktails we chose both the ‘Whisky Sour’ (Bourbon, fresh lemon juice, sugar and egg white) and a sparkling wine option of the ‘Welcome Cocktail’ (house made sloe gin, Prosecco, lemon zest and sugar). Both are very light in alcohol taste allowing for their ingredients to radiate through. Though both are nothing unique, we must consider that as we sipped and took notes, we are looking out at the sun rays reflections gleaming from the River Thames and in the hazy distance Big Ben dominating the skyline which always makes a moment in time that bit more special.

We tasted a selection of their sparkling wines which included the Fantinel DOC Prosecco Extra Dry, Chapel Down Three Grace 2011, Moet et Chandon Brut NV and the Moet et Chandon rosé. We also chose to drink from both the classic coupe and also the more preferred tulip style flute (ask at the bar if you like iced flutes as they have these ready to serve you bubbly in and ideal for those warmer days).

Tasting notes of these wines are fairly common, but I will add:

Chapel Down 2011 Three Graces: “Scents from that of a traditional English garden in Summer and full of near ripe green apples, yellow plum, dryness. Taste is an explosion of near ripe Granny Smith apples,  powerfully acidic, along with apple compote, spices and a long acidic lime zest / apple finish.

All in all Gillray’s bar is wonderfully placed in the heart of London with glorious views where though the outside views maybe a wealth of busy touristic activities, you sit in a relaxed and peaceful location and can enjoy a selection of Champagne and sparkling wines from just £8.50 a glass to £115.00 for Ruinart Blanc de Blancs Champagne NV.

Recommendation from Restaurant and Bar Manager Cynthia “Do try a glass of the Chapel Down English sparkling wine along with 6 Cornish Oysters“.

Christopher Walkey

Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.