#TeamCoco certainly know how to travel in style. Our travel and lifestyle correspondent Fleur Rollet-Manus was chauffeured to Cheltenham Festival in the new Bentley Bentayga V8 for a day of exhilarating horseracing and a delicious four-course lunch, complete with champagne reception and afternoon tea.
As a Londoner my commute usually consists of avoiding eye contact at all times, face squished against somebodies armpit and my clothes crinkled, creased and coated in a film of black grim. I often arrive flustered, harassed and smelling slightly of disinfectant hand-gel.
Understandably I jump at the chance to travel anything (with the exception of Boris Bikes) other than the Metropolitan line, so when a Bentley-crested invitation pinged into my inbox I hurriedly accepted.
On Wednesday 14th March London was absent of snow and void of drizzly rainclouds. Proudly sat on The Beaumont driveway, an exquisite five-star hotel in Mayfair, were four gleaming, brand new Bentley Bentayga V8’s paired with suited and booted gentlemanly drivers ready to transport us to Cheltenham Ladies Day. It is safe to say I tore up my Oyster card there and then.
A petrol head will be able to divulge all the dynamic details regarding the Bentley’s gearbox, transmission and engine, but undoubtedly the stand out factor for me was the top-quality craftsmanship. The hyper-luxury interior consists of elegant cross stitch, that takes 30 hours to hand sew, piano-black and walnut veneer and heavenly quilted front and rear seats. The interior channelled the same sophistication and classy flare that I look for when choosing a new handbag.
After a well-cushioned ride we pulled into Ellenborough Park, a 15th century manor house, to the roars of Cheltenham racecourse. All that stood between me and the pot of gold was a set of incredibly muddy fields. Transforming from the smooth, agile ride we’d just experienced to an off-road, mud-splattered machine the Bentayga bounced over the rolling hills so my shoes remained shiny and new. The latest addition to the Bentayga family proved that it is certainly more than capable at getting its tyres dirty.
A champagne reception greeted us in the Jockey Clubs hospitality restaurant Chez Roux where we enjoyed a four-course lunch of seared-scallops and prime-cut beef. Providing tips straight from the horses mouth and joining us at our table was famed jockey Richard Johnson, who was riding in several of the days races. As our champagne flutes were topped up my race card fell open on the third race of the day. My eyes were suddenly drawn to one particular horse that shared a connection to my family name. As a huge believer in fate I rushed to the Tote, narrowly missing a tray-carrying waiter. Breathlessly I gave the bewildered bookie my bet and headed outside to watch the race unfold.
We jostled for prime spots at the winning post to watch the horses race across the course. As the leaders of the pack began to thin out from the rest of the group I noticed my horse was holding its own alongside the fence. Kicking up the ground with a final spurt of petrol Bleu Berry romped home to win with 20-1 odds. In all the excitement of celebrating my newfound riches I had missed dessert.
I clutched my crisp winnings to my chest as we raced back to London in our chariot. As the journey came to a close I suddenly understood how Cinderella must have felt as she fled the ball. Our chauffeur-driven Bentley pulled up outside my humble abode and vanished in a cloud of fairy dust and satisfying roar, leaving my housemates study-session crisp packets fluttering in its wake.
The next morning haunting echoes of ‘please mind the gap’ replaced my driver Tony’s velvety ‘watch your step Miss’ as I froze waiting for the, unsurprisingly, delayed Metropolitan line. Like Cinderella my fairy tale ride had morphed into a mouldy pumpkin sporting chewing gum infested seats.
As my not-so-glamorous carriage hurtled towards central London I wondered just how many steeplechases I would have to win to hire Tony and his Bentley Bentayga permanently?