If you’re a bit of a boozehound, which admittedly I am, The Distillery on Portobello Road, Notting Hill is your hotel dream come true.
You can drink, eat, drink some more, and sleep on the same spot.
The quirky multi-level venue is the world’s first-ever hotel on the site of an alcohol distillery, the libation in question being gin.
Albeit, it is very small – there are only three rooms – and the night we visited, two couples had travelled from Manchester and Lincoln to check the place out.
My friend Mary Lou and I checked into the hotel’s corner room, which boasts beautiful views of the quaint houses down below.
Immediately on walking in, I spied one of the best mini bars I’d ever seen. A whole retro-style cocktail cabinet complete with full-sized gin bottles to play with.
It was even decked out with all of the necessary tools – a cocktail shaker, knife, cutting board and citrus fruits for garnish.
Furthering the convivial spirit were two pre-made cocktails in the corner fridge – a negroni and a dry martini.
We smoothly poured them into two glasses from our cabinet and popped a record on the turntable which sat there waiting to be played.
It’s no wonder these rooms have been snapped up like hot cakes. The other reason is the price. The spacious rooms only come in at £150, which is a steal considering the location.
At 5pm we ventured downstairs to the gin shop where we were ushered to the basement for a gin tasting at the aptly-named Ginstitute.
I can’t recommend this experience enough, with a combination of history, heady libations and humor making for the perfect recipe.
To top it all off, at the end of the session everyone gets to blend their own bottle of gin.
The gin masters let you chose from a range of intense alcohol flavours, from rose petals to Yorkshire Tea. Apparently peanut butter is another potential taste yet to be concocted.
I called my gin ‘smokin”, with an earthy blend of bitter orange, asparagus, lapsang souchong and chocolate-tasting cassia bark.
After spending a couple of hours sampling gins and learning about their heritage, we ventured back upstairs to the Resting Room, the Distillery’s downstairs restaurant. Our homemade brew was ours to take home, along with a bottle of the standard Portobello Road Gin.
The Resting Room has a great atmosphere, with red-leather booth-style seating and a bar providing theatre.
With all that drinking, we had worked up quite an appetite.
To start we went for a buttery medley of Gordal olives. The plump green baubles went in a snap.
For mains, Mary Lou went for a vegetarian nut roast while I opted for grilled vegetables with a goat’s cheese salad.
Everything was perfectly finished and the nut roast came with a very moreish saucepan of cauliflower cheese.
Continuing the gin theme, Mary Lou made her way through a couple of ‘Improved Tom Collins‘ while I sipped on two olive martinis, a little dirty for good measure.
Before dessert we made friends with some locals and sat with them. That’s the joy with the Resting Room, its layout invites everyone in to participate.
I promptly ordered a cheese board – the perfect party platter – while we all went quiet when the deliciously warm bowl of chocolate brownie and ice cream arrived.
Before bed, we tumbled out into the streets to meet some friends for a nightcap nearby.
But I couldn’t help but clock watch. The thought of the soft bed, liquor cabinet and turntable were spinning around in my mind. Or maybe it was the gin seducing me into a stupor.
Anyhow, it was the best night’s sleep I’d had in a while.
Sipping on sweet on old Madam Geneva (the nickname for the gin that originated in the 17th century) certainly beats counting sheep.
The Distillery is located at 186 Portobello Road, London, W11 1LA
To book a room for the night at The Distillery, a tasting at The Ginstitute or food at The Resting Room visit www.the-distillery.london. Alternatively call 02030342233