Test Drives

Thenapoleonhotel2 MinibarSo yes, we'll work our way through all of these, thanks. 

The recently opened Napoleon Hotel holds the illustrious titles of London’s smallest hotel as well as that of ‘most bars per guest’. This single room ‘grand’ hotel sports THREE - making that more than one per guest.

Developed by Tom Aske and Tristan Stephensen - the team behind cult craft cocktail bars Worship Street Whistling Shop and PURL, The Napoleon Hotel can be found on the border of the City and Shoreditch, just a stone's throw from Finsbury Square.

This single room suite is serviced by three separate bars – Sack, The Devil’s Darling and Black Rock making it the perfect stop for a boozy weekend (or weeknight) in the city. We recently checked in for a night and, as custom would demand (and staying true to our Irish roots), to drink our way through all three bars - in one night. 

RoomThe one room

4pm – Check in, a soak and a quick drink 

After a warm welcome and quick tour from Romeo, the bar and hotel manager, it was straight to the mini-bar. Imagine if you will, one of the most impressive mini-bar setups you’ve ever laid eyes on, an entire tray of bottled cocktails, complete with chilled tumblers and mixing glass. Perhaps this is to be expected for a hotel created by cocktail gurus, nonetheless it’s an impressive touch.

Onto the suite itself, if the figure of 40 square meters (430sqf) leaves you scratching your chin then imagine an expansive suite, enough to comfortably fit a huge bed, velvet sofa, armchair and coffee table. 

The main focus of the equally sizeable bathroom is the majestic rolltop bath. What comes next is a no-brainer – a long soak in the hot tub accompanied by one of their pre-bottled Manhattan’s, Bramble or a sesame and popcorn Daiquiri (yes, really).  

Other features worth noting is (the second) minibar, a fridge stacked with cocktail ice, chilled glasses and, should the mood permit, a bottle of dry sherry. Another nifty feature is a dumb waiter elevator. Their version of room service, it can be used to great effect, calling up ice-cold cocktails and snacks from both the bars below.

All settled in, one of the most difficult choices you’ll now have to make is choosing exactly which of the three bars to start your drinking odyssey in.

Sack barA sherry at Sack Bar

5:30pm – An aperitif and a snack at Sack Bar

Found on the ground floor, Sack, the largest and most prominent of the three bars, has been designed to focus on sherry. And focus it does, the bar features an extensive menu of sherries which have been curated in partnership with Tio Pepe – one of the most recognisable and iconic sherry producers. The staff are knowledgeable and clearly very passionate about sherry – a simple conversation about the different styles was accompanied by an array of tasting glasses, each showing off a different style or age.

There’s room for a crowd in here – certainly one to remember when considering places to go for group drinks in Shoreditch / The City.

josePasta Iberica at nearby Jose

7:00pm – Out for dinner

Whilst the temptation might be to pop back upstairs for another quick drink and a snack from the mini-bar, having a solid meal ahead of a night’s-worth of drinking comes highly recommended. There are in fact plenty of very decent dining options within minutes of The Napoleon Hotel. Walk two minutes East and you’ll find Darbaar, HKK and Rök. Equally, four minutes to the South and you’re in Broadgate Circle which takes on a rather relaxed vibe in the weekends.

We enjoyed an outstanding meal at José Pizarro. Highlights which included Mini Iberico pork burgers, calamari, chilli & garlic and an unforgettable Presa Iberica complete with potatoes and padrón peppers – the perfect fortification for an evening of cocktails.

sackbarCocktails at Devil's Darling

8:30pm – Back to The Devil’s Darling

Back at the hotel, up two flights of steep stairs and through a frosted glass door is The Devil’s Darling. This decadent hotel-style cocktail bar celebrates classic cocktails served in relaxed surrounds. Thoughts immediately go to the hidden Japanese bars of Ginza - a lone bartender, a vinyl-only sound system underpinned by a minimalist retro design aesthetic.

Romeo (the hotel manager from previous) oversees a short list of three cocktails. These change daily, are all made with premium spirits and are priced from between £7 - £13. Classic cocktails are also available upon request, we’d recommend having a seat the marble bar and going off-menu.

BlackrockFinishing off the night at Black Rock

10pm – One last dram at Black Rock

If you believe in saving the best til last, then it should be Black Rock where you have your ‘final dram’. 

The bar is the most established of the three. First opened in March 2015, it’s a whiskey lovers paradise, presiding over a collection of 250+ bottles. In a short time, Black Rock has built a strong following and reputation as one of London’s top whisky bars and it was in full swing when we popped down around 10pm.

The drinks menu features a simple menu of whisky cocktails and highballs (whisky and soda pairings). If it’s a dram you’re after, then a chat with the team, who’re quite relaxed for a spot which caters to anoraks and aficionados. They will help you find something appropriate to match both your whisky preference whilst staying within budget. Drams are simply priced at £7, £9, £11 and £15+ whilst cocktails run at between £9-£11. As we found first hand, having ‘just one dram’ is harder than first appears – particularly when bed is just 40 feet above.

modernpantryA top breakfast at Modern Pantry

The morning after – Breakfast at The Modern Pantry

One of the difficulties of running a one room hotel is how to organise breakfast for guests. The Napoleon Hotel have dreamt up one of the best possible solutions for this, partnering with The Modern Pantry Finsbury Square, a one minute walk from the hotel. Here guests are offered a full complimentary breakfast, which is certainly No Bad Thing given that this is (in our opinion) one of the best breakfasts to be found in The City.

Scrambled eggs with grilled chorizo, ricotta pancakes and spiced veal mince on toast – they’ve got every you need to assuage that hangover…

What: The Napoleon Hotel

Where: 9 Christopher Street, London, EC2A 2BS

How much? The hotel suite costs £180 per night and includes breakfast at The Modern Pantry

Find out more: Visit their website.

Hot Dinners was invited to The Napoleon Hotel. Prices correct at time of writing

 

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