Gin-credible: boutique London hotel with its own distillery the perfect tonic for relaxing city break
Being quite a fan of G&T, a stay at the UK's first gin hotel was one for the bucket list. I found myself in gin heaven last month when I checked into The Distillery on London's trendy Portabello Road in Notting Hill, which also claims to be the world's first 'boutique gin hotel'.
Housing a working distillery for Portobello Road Gin, the four-floor venue boasts a gin-blending masterclass experience called The Ginstitute, two bars which have more than 100 gins on their menus, an off-licensed shop, a private dining room, and three quirky guest rooms.
My two-day stay at the 100-year-old former public house was one of the most relaxing and enjoyable breaks I have had in some time and a far cry from my usual work trips to London, which involve countless meetings and rushing to and from airports.
If you love gin then make sure that, even if not staying there, you try out The Ginstitute in the basement of the building beside their 400L copper pot still called King Henry.
It costs £110 for a three-hour experience but it is well worth it for the amount of gin you consume and take away. For that price you enjoy several gin cocktails and get to take two bottles of gin home, including your own creation with a personalised label and a bottle of their own Portabello Road Gin (if you haven't already tried this award-winning London Dry Gin you definitely should). The Ginstitute experience will start downstairs in a cosy bar modelled on a traditional Victorian London gin palace lined with gin bottles from across the decades.
You will begin your gin journey with a Tom Collins cocktail (gin, lemon, sugar) and over the course of the following hours you will be handed two more cocktails, two G&Ts and tastings of several others.
After being educated in all things gin by the Ginstructor we were given the chance to blend our own.
The base for all was a gin containing four essential botanicals and then we were able to choose lots of different distillates to see which we wanted added to our own creations.
The variety on offer included Yorkshire Gold tea, cassia bark, pink grapefruit, lavender and asparagus. After testing my tastebuds to the limit, I opted for pink peppercorn, bitter orange, Yorkshire Gold tea and cassia bark.
As well as getting to taste our own creation, you will get sips of everyone else's - I did say that you consume lots!
And you can re-order your own recipe online at any time (for £39 per bottle) as each is uniquely numbered.
Lucky we were staying at The Distillery so only had to head upstairs to our eclectic lodgings to lie down. The rooms themselves are as cool as you would expect in Portabello Road. Each room even has a record player and a Rough Trade-curated vinyl collection, including David Bowie, the Stone Roses, Bruce Springsteen and The Rolling Stones as well as a selection of books.
Featuring a mix of new mid-century style and vintage furniture that has been restored, the bedrooms stock even more Portabello Road Gin with a bottle on the cabinet accompanied by lemon, lime, juniper berries and other accompaniments and a fully-stocked mini bar.
To soak up all that gin, there are a choice of dining options at the distillery's two bars - The Resting Room and Gintonica.
Gintonica is a Spanish-themed bar and kitchen which serves a variety of tapas dishes and cheese and charcuterie dishes. Guests can enjoy their G&Ts in a traditional Copa De Balón (balloon goblet glass).
In The Resting Room you can enjoy a Sunday roast or a selection of other British dishes. I can recommend their fish and chips, or their juicy Distillery Burger, which consists of a prime beef and bone marrow patty with cheddar cheese and Chorizo Iberico.
Before you leave, check out the distillery shop and its new Local Heroes Gin in collaboration with legendary Dire Straits frontman, Mark Knopfler.
The special edition gin, created by the star alongside the company's co-founder Jake Burger, combines Portobello Road Gin's nine signature botanicals (juniper berries, coriander seed, angelica root, orris root, lemon peel, orange peel, liquorice root, cassia bark and nutmeg) with lime zest, fresh cucumber peel and somewhat uniquely, olive oil.
With the heart of one of London's most iconic market streets - Portobello Road - literally outside the doors, there is plenty to see and do in the area.
Most famous for its half-mile-long antiques market (the largest in the world), the area has so much character and so many cool and unusual shops and stalls where you can browse both the tat and the treasure, from antiques to vintage fashion.
If you want to find something unique you have got to check both this district and The Distillery out.
I'll raise another glass (of G&T) to that!
Prices for bed and breakfast at The Distillery start from £150 per night. Tickets for The Ginstitute sessions are priced at £110 per person. For more information, visit www.the-distillery.london.
For more information about Portabello Road Gin, visit www.portobelloroadgin.com