Checking out the revamped restaurant at Champneys
I had the perfect excuse last week to check out the newly-renovated restaurant at Champneys Tring – I somehow managed to snag an invitation to a charity lunch, hosted by Isabelle Purdew, wife of Champneys owner Stephen Purdew, and compèred by Sky reporter and presenter Kay Burley.
Not only that, Brit Award winner Beverly Craven was going to be singing after lunch, and Naomie Harris – the impossibly beautiful Moneypenny from Skyfall – was the guest of honour. Feeling just a teensy bit out of my celebrity depth (ok, up to my chin out of my depth…), I popped on my new frock, took a deep breath, and said a grateful yes to the glass of champagne I was offered as soon as I got through the door.
The restaurant may certainly have been classy in its time, but had been looking a bit tired and in need of some attention for a while. Now it’s looking a whole lot more modern. The old-school ‘what you should be eating’ plates have been re-purposed as decoration, and the walls – dark one end, light the other – are sleek and decorated with a selection of matt plates that now look more like art than crockery.
And the room had been decorated beautifully – with some serious goody bags, mostly courtesy of Elemis, too – for lunch.
A grand piano took centre stage – although the enormous cheque for £60,000 (yes, you read that right) that Naomie Harris presented to Lisa Allen from the Pink Ribbon Foundation did threaten, quite rightly, to upstage it.
Beverly Craven (who I last saw play in Brighton in, er, around 1991 – I think?) had everyone thoroughly entertained – although there were a few challenges to the room’s mascara when she played a song written to her children while struggling with her own breast cancer. You’ll be pleased to hear, I managed to keep it to a lump in the throat, mostly thanks to a strategic swig of a tasty little rosé.
The lunch was delicious – with the added zest of trying to put names to the various faces-off-the-telly who were there looking absolutely lovely, of course, and lending their support to the breast cancer charity that was the focus of the day.
Champneys is celebrating its 90th birthday this year, and it’s clearly come a long way from its health spa roots – although the sense of eating well and taking good care of yourself is still front and centre. The restaurant reno is just part of the upgrades coming up this year – with a new Detox and Wellbeing Centre on the way, and the private GP practice, DoctorNOW, already up and running.
The lovely Tolchards ladies of table 7
I have to admit to being quite envious of the guests who were clearly staying the night – rather than whizzing off after lunch, as I was – as the new developments up there seem to be coming on a treat, and are making it an even more tempting destination for a spa break.