The Distillery - Staying in a Pub
As the name belies, The Distillery isn’t technically a pub - but it is so much more than just a distillery, too...
The Distillery is home to Portobello Road Gin, The Ginstitute gin blending experience, and two bars/restaurants featuring their own blends of gin… it’s essentially a Gin Lover’s version of Disneyworld. I first visited this modern day gin palace in November of 2017 for the Ginstitute experience to learn more about one of my favorite spirits and blend my bespoke bottle of gin. Upon walking up to the blue building on Portobello Road, I knew that it would be one of my favorite spots in London. I can write a whole post about the Ginstitute experience, so I’ll be brief - it’s awesome and a must do in London if you like gin.
During my research prior to attending the Ginstitute, I discovered that in addition to all of the fun facets of The Distillery listed above, it also had three rooms that you could stay in on the top floor. Described as an option for those who wish to drink the night away at the ground floor cocktail bar or for those who’ve finished their Ginstutute experience and aren’t quite ready to go home yet, the rooms are cozy and cute and a great value. Though I’d already booked accommodation for that particular trip, I filed away the knowledge of their rooms for a future trip.
After spending a little under a week in Portugal in March 2019, I had three days in London to hunt for Cherry Blossoms, work from my company’s London office, and see Tom Hiddleston in Betrayal on the West End (😍). Knowing that Spring in Notting Hill would be beyond magical, I was quick to book my stay at The Distillery.
How to Book
I made my booking through hotels.com which allowed me to accumulate nights through their rewards program - stay 10 nights in participating properties, and get 1 night free. I love that hotels.com’s rewards program spans both large hotel chains and smaller independent properties, so I know that I’m always earning toward something when making a booking.
The price for each night was ~$160 USD inclusive of taxes and fees, which is fairly competitive for the area and time of year. If booked through their own website directly, the small room that I stayed in is ￡125 per night, and their larger rooms both run ￡150 per night.
After a quick flight from Lisbon, I arrived in London via the Heathrow Express. From Paddington Station, I hailed a Black Cab and asked to go to the Distillery in Notting Hill. My cab driver was surprised that he hadn’t ever had someone ask for that destination - a phenomenon that apparently hasn’t occurred often for him - but was intrigued to hear more about the place as his son is a big gin drinker. I was glad to have saved myself a long walk from the tube station by taking a cab, because upon check in I was greeted with a set of very narrow, winding stairs leading up to the third floor (fourth for us in the states). The rooms are located just off the stairs behind a locking door that can only be opened with your hotel key. Beyond the door is a small vestibule connecting all three rooms. My room, the smallest of the three, was on the far right. I arrived at the beginning of golden hour. I snapped a few pictures and hustled outside to get some photos while the light was still perfect.
When I returned from my photo walk in Notting Hill, I was greeted with a cozy room, flooded with the golden pink-light of the sunset over West London. I put on a vinyl Bowie record - part of a collection in the room - and poured myself one of the complimentary negronis located in the mini fridge (a martini was also in there, but I sadly cannot force myself to enjoy vermouth). While enjoying the sounds of steel drums on the street below mixed with David Bowie, I took in the surroundings. The room, while small, was perfect for one person and looked like it popped right out of a West Elm catalogue, but with a more lived-in, truly vintage feel. The bed was cozy, and a welcome place to lounge after a long day of exploring, traveling, and exploring some more. The desk doubled as a bar, and included everything you’d need for either set up - an antique writing slope, stationary, bottles of Portobello Road Gin, garnishes, and bar tools.
After soaking up the last bits of evening sun, and sipping down my cocktail, I took a refreshing shower before heading back out. The waterfall shower-head had great pressure, and the Grown Alchemist toiletries were simultaneously luxe smelling and eco friendly as the hotel had opted against single serve shampoo, conditioner, and soaps 👏👏👏. While not pictured, the tiled floor of the bathroom was gorgeous and reminded me of the azulejos tiles I’d recently left behind in Portugal. All in all, the room was trendy and classic, and pretty and practical all at the same time.
Staying in a Bar
One of the obvious benefits of staying in a bar is being able to partake at said bar and have a very short commute home. This proved true during my trip. The bar on the ground floor of The Distillery is beautiful, spacious, and cozy all at the same time. On my prior trip to London in January of 2019, the bartender did me the honor of telling me he thought I was a regular (I’m not, as sad as it may be). Thus, I had to become as much of a regular as I could in three nights. I enjoyed a Super Citrus G&T each night in the bar, and even found myself chatting with a few locals on the last night. The cocktail menu is extensive - including creative cocktails made from Portobello Road Gin and with run and tequila on tap, too.
The bartenders are friendly, and willing to chat a bit, but it’s clearly a popular place as they were generally rather busy while I sat at the bar. I did make sure to observe as they prepared all sort of G&Ts for the other ginthusiasts in attendance in hopes of picking up some skills for home. I’m lucky in that my local liquor store now carries Portobello Road Gin on an almost regular basis. I love being able to pick up souvenirs from my travels locally!
As a solo female traveler, the fact that the bar was just downstairs was both a blessing and a curse. It was great that I could just pop downstairs for a great drink and conversation, but it was also a bit sketchy to let people know that I was only staying just upstairs. Be sure to keep this information to yourself if you’re trying to play it safe and keep a lower profile. I was careful not to mention that I was staying upstairs for most of the trip, but was a bit freer with the information on the last night which merited a few drinks and questions from the locals about how the rooms were. For safety, I’d recommend not mentioning that you’re just upstairs as there is no night manager or security should you need it as you’d have in a large hotel. However, if you end up fancying someone in the bar, that decision is entirely up to you. I felt comforted that both the steep stairs and security door were added barriers to people just wandering upstairs after a few drinks.
The Distillery is a Gin Lover’s dream come true. It’s a Notting Hill lover’s dream come true as well. It’s perfectly located for shopping, food, gorgeous strolls in the neighborhood, and the rest of London as it’s near two different tube stops (Notting Hill Gate and Edgware Road). I’d come back here in a heartbeat - and not just for a cocktail!