The popularity of gin has seen a revival in recent years with a number of new weird and wonderful juniper-based spirits available to buy at home and to drink in bars and restaurants.
At the forefront of the global ‘ginaissance’ is premium gin brand, Portobello Road Gin with its new and most ambitious project to date ‘The Distillery’. Based in stylish Notting Hill’s famed Portobello Road, The Distillery is a completely unique concept where visitors can drink, eat, make and sleep all things gin. The LuxPad takes a look inside London’s most discerning gin experience and first gin hotel…
Very different from the gin palaces famed from Hogarth’s iconic gin lane, The Distillery features two bars and eateries, a gin museum, gin-making experience, a working distillery, off-licensed shop, private dining room and three characterful guest rooms making it the world’s first ‘boutique gin hotel’.
The 150 year-old former public house (originally est. 1867 as The Colville Hotel) was in a poor state of repair. In 9 months, it has been lovingly restored and imaginatively converted into the home of Portobello Road Gin with help from Architects and Interior Designers, Architectural Emporium.
The Distillery becomes the new production site of artisan spirit, Portobello Road Gin. The multi-award-winning London Dry Gin is made in a 400L copper alembic ‘King Henry’ still situated in the basement.
Architects and interior designers, Architectural Emporium worked collaboratively with the client, Ged Feltham and Barry Darnell from Made by Analogue, to create an interior that blends traditional features with quality materials and a refined modern twist. The considered palette of Iroko joinery, burnished copper accents, patterned glass, traditional tiles and rich dark colours coupled with careful detailing, creates an ageless sense of permanence within a building that had many of the original building features removed by previous inhabitants.
Externally, the façade has been carefully restored and illuminated with a new steel balustrade installed to the first floor balcony. The corner signage panel has been hand painted. A mix of blue glazed tiles have been installed around the base of the building. A bespoke steel signage light marks the entrance to the Ginstitute shopfront on Talbot Road, which is reminiscent of a curiosity shop, with cabinets and shelves displaying the gin produced on site.
A new entrance on Portobello Road invites people into the ground and upper floors. Unique mosaic floor signage forms the entrance carpet with a modern version of a traditional pub lantern overhead. Large glazed hardwood doors with copper ironmongery invite people in through a lobby to the various different building uses.
The Resting Room and Priest Hole can be found on the ground floor, which features an eye-catching bar, referencing the gin palaces of London’s past. The suspended mezzanine supports traditional barrel-rested spirits served directly via a network of pipes to the bar below, which is a variation on the enormous barrels of house gin served in traditional gin palaces straight from the back bar. A bespoke timber lighting track illuminates the burnished copper bar top with recessed LED bulbs. Another curved lighting track follows the curves of the space and provides over table lighting via pendant fittings. Bespoke table lamps provide further illumination to the window seats. Iroko hardwood is used in the lighting features, bar paneling and screen joinery to unify the various pieces of bespoke joinery. Patterned glass is used to form the Priest Hole screen, which is the backdrop to the space. A curved ceiling and copper reveal to the entrance threshold add intimacy and character to the windowless space.
The fabled Ginstitute experience allows visitors to learn about the popular spirit and make their own unique gin recipe to take home. Guests are taken into the basement, passed the display cases of vintage bottles and the vaults to the History Room. Visitors are taken on a journey through the history of gin from 1700 onwards in a room that references London’s Victorian gin palaces. Curved booths look towards the central bar and bespoke table lamps provide low-level lighting. The space is lined with traditional cabinets and mirrors, which form the museum. As the experience takes visitors through the 300 year history to the modern day gin renaissance, they are then taken into the adjacent modern distillery.
The fully functioning modern distillery is the home of Portobello Road Gin. Aesthetically it is consciously different to the rest of the building to transport visitors back to modern day Britain.
It features a polished concrete floor, whitewashed walls, fluorescent lighting, stainless steel worktops, copper stills and polycarbonate screens with sliding doors. Visitors are able to see the working distillery as they are taken on a tour to the blending rooms. Here they sit at a lab table, learn about the different flavours, aromas and ingredients that create a London Dry Gin and devise their own recipe.
The first-floor features GinTonica, a Spanish bar and kitchen, serving G&Ts in traditional Copa De Balón (balloon goblet glass) coupled with Spanish dishes from an open kitchen within the space. Conceived as a European grand apartment with large window openings and a generous floor to ceiling height, the space features a central chandelier of candlelight.
The circular corner bar complements the kitchen. Both feature bespoke bar lamps that provide low-level lighting to complement the chandelier. As you enter the space through the large glazed hardwood doors with copper ironmongery, a tiled ‘runner’ invites customers into the space and helps to distribute the bright colours throughout the space. The walls feature large pieces of vibrant artwork by illustrator Guy McKinley.
The Gin Hotel is situated on the top floor with unmatched views of a bustling Portobello Road. The Distillery’s eclectic lodgings have each been individually designed featuring a mix of new mid-century vintage furniture that has been lovingly restored. Guests can expect an exciting in-room mini-bar and drinks cabinet complete with unique pre-made cocktails distilled on-site at The Distillery. A bespoke handmade record player with a Rough Trade-curated vinyl playlist is one of the other individual features that makes staying at The Distillery an exclusive overnight experience.
“Space is at a premium in West London and the key to unlocking the building’s potential was to combine a very ambitious mix of associated uses across four floors on a compact corner plot.
“The design of each space is unique to its function, allowing it to operate within an optimised footprint, but common threads link the different interventions allowing the design to feel carefully considered as a whole.
“We always work collaboratively with our clients to deliver unique schemes and unlocking the potential of this site has been a challenging but incredibly rewarding process. We are delighted with the end result.” Director of Architectural Emporium, Toby Wallis.