Maureen: Hooray for the Horseguards Hotel... and the guardsmen

Maureen: Hooray for the Horseguards Hotel... and the guardsmen

Hooray for Horseguards

The nice girls may love a sailor, but the naughty ones are partial to a guardsman, take it from me.

Of course, I speak purely from observation, following a wonderful evening as a guest at the recent relaunch of the five-star historic Royal Horseguards Hotel, hosted by the new owner, Guoman Hotels.

The refurbishment of this fabulous listed building has been immaculately executed and the owners have been thoughtful in recognising its historic past and its links to the neighbouring Household Cavalry.

At the gala dinner it was announced that Guoman Hotels would be making a significant five-figure donation to Help for Heroes and The Household Cavalry Charitable Fund at the beginning of what will be a year-long commitment to both charities.

In attendance to hear the news and to enjoy the sumptuous surroundings were members of the Blues and Royals and the Life Guards, resplendent in their dress uniforms. And I mean resplendent. Not one among them needed a bit of spit on a hankie to polish up a button or a shoe, which left me wondering how else I could make myself indispensable to them.

To say I was awestruck by the company is to understate things. Not only were there handsome, uniformed men everywhere I looked, but the Duke of Wellington was also present along with celebrities from the worlds of media and showbiz.

I grabbed hold of TV chef Gary Rhodes who, unlike the officers, didn't have the SAS-style training required to get away from me, and coerced him into having a photo taken standing next to me. "Thanks for being my side dish," I called cheerily as he raced off for dear life.

Next on my hit list were three soldiers from the Parachute Regiment, proudly sporting their red berets (see photo, below). I was only too happy when one of them asked if I'd like to hold his rifle, and another photo opportunity was seized with both hands.

At dinner I sat between Michael Parker, general manager of the Thistle Hotel, Marble Arch and David Thompson of the Guild of Registered Tour Guides, who made for lively company.

The food was excellent and quite took our minds off the fact that nobody around our table had managed to win a prize in the draw. Which is saying something as the prizes were pretty spectacular and included a trip to India, cases of fine wine and a tour of the Royal Horseguards barracks. Well, what hot-blooded woman wouldn't want to win the latter?

After dinner, guests chatted in the bar before retiring to their rooms. My room was beautiful. From its balcony I could look across London and watch the lights twinkling on the Thames.

The hotel has all the extras you could want, including an iPod dock, plasma TV, mini-bar and my favouritethe hairdryer, cleverly hidden in the lift-up vanity section of the desk. I was shown to my room by Deana from customer relations, who even advised me on which dress to wear the first time I've come across an in-house personal stylist.

All in all, it was a wonderfully memorable evening and quite humbling to be in the company of brave servicemen.

In the office, JTA's Jason Nagel called in, having returned from Hong Kong where he had escorted an educational hosted by Emirates. He tells us he is officially in love with the city and that he's discovered a talent for haggling. Dare I tell his girlfriend Sam that the Gucci bag he brought back for her actually cost £6?

Jason had come in to tell us of JTA's new airline contracts with TAP Aero Mexico, Korean Air, Kingfisher, Air China and TAM the Brazilian airline. Quick as a flash, Penny asked if passengers would be offered an in-flight waxing on the latter? Jason blushed and tried to push on with his presentation.

When we asked if he had his own souvenir of Hong Kong, Jason rolled up his shirt sleeve and pointed at a swelling on his elbow.

"That," he said. "It cost nothing and I think I got it playing indoor football. I'm a goalie."

"Like Peter Schmeichel?" asked Natalie.

"No, more like Peter Kay," came the reply.

Photo: Maureen and friends at Horseguards...

Maureen Hill works at Travel Angels, Gillingham, Dorset

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