Just when you thought London couldn’t get any more exciting, someone goes and opens a gin hotel.
Yes, you read that right. A hotel dedicated to all things gin. It’s been set up by the people who make Portobello Road Gin, and it has a restaurant, a bar, a gin school and rooms you can stagger up to after you’re done drinking gin and being the happiest you’ve ever been in your life.
London has a long history with gin, of course, something you can learn all about in the Ginstitute, where a very knowledgeable teacher will run through the whole murky story, from the first drops distilled, through to Gin Lane, the extravagant Victorian gin palaces and right into the modern day.
At gin school, you get to drink gin throughout your lessons, and it’s a lot more fun than double maths on a Monday morning. Once you’ve had your lesson, it’s time to move through to the stills and blending area, where you get to make your very own blend of gin.
The staff members here really know their stuff, and the session is just the right balance of fun and informative. We were seriously impressed. You’re taken through the main botanicals, then guided on the best way to blend your own. Our Londonist No. 1 batch contained pink and white peppercorns, lemon, Yorkshire Gold tea (what?) and… asparagus plucked straight from the ‘crazy’ botanicals shelf. You can stop giggling at the back, because we were very pleased with the results, which was a well-rounded, easy drinking blend (asparagus simply brings a sweet, pea-like flavour).
One of the best parts about our stay was the knowledge that we could stagger up the stairs to our stylish room afterwards and dance around to Bowie, thanks to the record player and vinyl collection in the room. Oh, and what’s this? It’s a gin bar in the corner! You didn’t think the hotel would leave you wanting for gin in your room now, did you?
If there was one downside to our visit, it’s that the food in the tapas restaurant, Gintonica, needs work. Pre-carved Iberico ham, a frankly odd, tough tortilla and a general lack of attention to detail; it was a let down, particularly because the rest of the hotel is so excellent. Sort this out, and they've basically created the hotel from heaven. Why would you ever need to leave?
The Distillery, 186 Portobello Road, W11 1LA