We hear from General Manager Dirk Crokaert on what we can expect this upcoming summer.
14 May 2021
The Montague on the Gardens is fully reopening its doors on 17th May and we caught up with General Manager Dirk Crokaert on what the team has planned for this upcoming summer.
How long have you been at The Montague on the Gardens and what do you love most about the hotel?
I have been at The Montague on the Gardens for 19 wonderful years and I have absolutely loved my time here which is evident from the longevity of my service. The hotel has the most amazing location which makes it incredibly desirable. Not only is it in Central London and a stone’s throw away from key spots such as The British Museum, Covent Garden, the West End, Oxford and Bond Street, it is also a hidden gem. Tucked away in a leafy residential area, the hotel is like a country house in the heart of London. I thoroughly enjoy walking around the historical buildings and listening to the beautiful sounds of the birds chirping and trees rustling. At times, it is easy to get lost in the surroundings and forget you are actually in a city. The ‘fun factor’ is another reason why I am so passionate about the hotel. It is very rare to find a four-star hotel that has the ability to inject so much fun and entertainment. We have a wide range of pop-ups, experiences and very ‘instagrammable’ theming such as sand in the summer and a snow machine in the winter. Our ability to provide unique and on-trend concepts certainly keeps us on our toes.
You must have been very excited about the re-opening of the hotel on 17th May, what did you and the team been doing to keep busy while the hotel was temporarily closed?
Absolutely, over the moon! Like everyone else in the industry, we've been longing to welcome guests through our doors and to simply get back to doing what we do best; providing the warmest and most memorable hospitality. It is in our genes and we are itching for the exciting times ahead. Having such a long period of time not welcoming guests has been terrible, we have missed it so much. However just because the hotel is closed by all means doesn’t mean the hotel operation has stopped. We have had an essential skeleton team managing the building to ensuring everything is smooth and kept fresh for when we re-open. This includes maintenance work such as creating a new beautiful glass terrace that has a stunning backdrop of the Bedford Gardens. Due to the hotel being closed, projects like this have made it easier as we did not disrupt the day-day operations.
So everyone is talking about the Beach Bar, have you had many bookings?
Yes, a phenomenal amount. The demand not only for outdoor space but also for something unique and ‘a bit different’ has been overwhelming! The fact people just want to get out, make social plans and generally enjoy having their freedom back has been amazing for us. We are very fortunate to have several outdoor spaces to book for the beach bar, afternoon tea and other premium food and beverage options.
What has had to change this year in terms of Covid-19 protocols at the Beach Bar?
As a team, we want to ensure that our guests can enjoy the beach bar in a safe and comfortable environment. We have an extensive policy that ensures our staff are fully trained to adhere to the guidelines; including ensuring safe social distancing, hand sanitiser stations, face masks and track and trace.
Do you welcome children and dogs?
Absolutely, yes! We have always been a child and dog-friendly hotel. It makes me so proud that throughout the years we have become a ‘favourite’ hotel for some of our younger and furry guests who stay with us regularly. Here at The Montague we always go the extra mile for every single guest, we cater for everyone and anyone. I especially love the ‘mocktail masterclasses’ that we offer for our little guests.
Do you offer Vegetarian, Pescatarian and Vegan alternatives for BBQ food?
Of course! We cater for all dietary requirements and understand the critical importance of this. We also are aware that plant-based/healthy choices are very popular as a lifestyle choice therefore ensure that this is reflected in our menu.
You mentioned above that you recently built a new terrace, is this where afternoon tea will be served?
The Leopard Bar's terrace is one of the most magical areas of the hotel. It truly is spectacular and certainly has a ‘wow’ factor when you walk into it. Overlooking the private and literary Bedford estates, the terrace is not only beautifully designed but you also have the gorgeous view to match. The gardens are immaculately maintained, boasting pristine plants and trees, statues and together with our friends at the Bedford Estates we also enjoy and look after two beehives. The gardens are so tranquil that you certainly wouldn’t think you are in Central London. The terrace is incredibly versatile, offering drinks, afternoon teas, lunches, dinner, plus it is a very popular location for private events such as weddings and intimate dining. We are lucky to have this as one of several outdoor spaces, therefore it is great that we are able to give our guests the choice of different areas in the hotel.
Do you still have The Cigar Terrace?
In the past, we have been a very popular destination for cigar smokers. Not only just for the venue but as we have a humidor with a wide range of premium cigars, trained staff on-site specialising in cigars, offering cigar masterclasses, cigar dinners and pairings with premium spirits. We still offer a space for cigar smokers in the evening. We always ensure that we find the right harmony between the guests that do and don’t smoke, and respect the guests that don’t smoke to ensure all guests are comfortably catered for.
Will the Leopard Bar be reopening with live music this summer?
We are really hopeful that towards the summer, we will reopen with live music. We are incredibly popular with the hotel guests and non-residents for our in-house jazz trio and live musicians. They certainly bring the vibrancy to the Leopard Bar at night time, it really is such a special atmosphere!
What local experiences are on offer this summer in Bloomsbury?
We have many versatile experiences both inside and outside of the hotel. We are working on an exciting MAKE TRAVEL MATTER® Experiences which are based on the bees that we keep together with the Bedford Estates. We are very eager to bring this concept to life and to educate people about the bee population – watch this space! We are also working on a very exciting and exclusive private tour of the British Museum. I'm really thrilled about it because it has never featured before and we will be the only hotel that will offer this specific tour. I feel very blessed that alongside our partners in the area, we can offer such an array of experiences from culture to food and drink that suits everyone’s taste.
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