The World’s First Gin Hotel Just Opened in London
On December 16, the founders of Portobello Road Gin were finally able to take a full-size spot on their namesake street, Portobello Road, in London — and to that street they’ve brought an entirely new concept: the world’s first gin hotel. The Distillery has four floors of gin-inspired lodging and activities, including a restaurant, museum, luxury rooms, a gin-themed restaurant, a tasting room and personal distilling classes.
Initially, the team at Portobello Road got the building on accident. They already had the company and were running the Ginstitute, a gin-making experience, out of a too-small space above a bar on Portobello Road.
“We were already on the lookout for a site to grow into,” says Tom Coates, Brand Director of Portobello Road Gin and The Distillery. “The Distillery was born not only from this but from our further ambition to bring production of Portobello Road Gin back in-house; however, we never dreamt a site would become available on our namesake road, let alone a four-floor building [including the basement]. We actually did the pitch for the site as a training exercise. They had 100 offers for the building and it was a shock when we got it, as we’re still a relatively young brand. That was when we realized the huge potential this building has to offer.”
They’ve maximized that potential at The Distillery with myriad gin activities and experiences. On the ground floor, The Resting Room serves master distiller Jake Burger’s creations — everything from one-of-a-kind gin blends to experimental spirits like an avocado and olive oil vodka. Plus, hand-built barrels holding a selection of international spirits are suspended above the bar, with drinks poured directly from those barrels. Every drink served from the barrels will be different from the next because the aging process continues within each one.
The next floor up has GinTonica, a Spanish-inspired tapas restaurant and bar that focuses on Spain’s use of juniper and offers a selection of gin and tonics in traditional balloon goblet glasses. On the top floor, The Distillery has three boutique double rooms looking over Portobello Road for guests and a private dining room and bar called The Boardroom. Each guest room was designed by one of Portobello Gin’s founding directors — they’ve further brought the gin theme into the rooms by stocking the minibars with on-site crafted spirits.
The actual distillery and the Ginstitute occupy the remainder of the building. Ginstitute students go for three hours to learn about the history of gin, try some cocktails, discover how the spirit is created, and make their own from a selection of distilled botanicals. Each guest’s personal recipe is blended with an instructor’s help and recorded to the company’s database so new bottles are always available to purchase.
Each of the three boutique guest rooms were designed by one of Portobello Gin’s founding directors. The theme doesn't stop inside the guest rooms — they’ve stocked the minibars with on-site crafted spirits.
“It was never our intention to create a ‘gin hotel’,” Coates says, “but we liked the idea of introducing boutique guest rooms so visitors to the Ginstitute could stay above a working distillery. I think everyone who visits The Distillery will have their own interpretation of the concept. There are so many elements to enjoy, whether it’s popping in for quick after-work drinks through to the full distillery experience of making your own gin and staying overnight.”
The Distillery also has a museum with a selection of gin and alcohol artifacts (including the first-ever English cocktail book) and an on-site liquor store.
According to Coates, opening The Distillery was an organic and logical development for the Portobello Road Gin brand. But another exciting aspect for the company is how the property will enhance business prospects across the world.
“The most exciting parts of the project for me are the new and unexpected opportunities that have come with a development of this size and scale,” Coates says. “We are proud purveyors of London spirit and we look forward to exciting guests from around the globe with not just amazing gin but other wonderful new distillates and aged spirits that we have already put to use on our menu in The Resting Room on the ground floor. We have also already had several requests from large bar and restaurant groups to create bespoke gins and distillates for their groups, so I look forward to experimenting here too.”