What? Thomas Aske and Tristan Stephenson, the duo behind London’s award-winning bars Worship Street Whistling Shop and whisky bar, Black Rock, have become hoteliers. Admittedly on a very small scale, The Napoleon is a hotel which features just one bedroom and three bars; could this be London’s booziest building?
Where? Sitting between Shoreditch and the City you’ll find The Napoleon Hotel at: 9 Christopher Street, Hackney, EC2A 2BS, www.napoleon-hotel.com
On the Menu: The three bars specialise in different things. Black Rock is all about whisky, Sack is a sherry bar and The Devil’s Darling is a cocktail bar specialising in classic serves. In the room, you’re able to order from any of the bars via an in-room elevator and you’ll also find cocktails from the Aske Stephenson range including a cigar and coffee Manhattan and a sesame and popcorn daiquiri.
The Look: Whilst they are all in the same building, the three bars each have their own distinctive look. You’ve got the dark, mysterious basement bar Black Rock, with its central table made from an 18ft, 185-year-old oak tree-trunk, cut down the middle and hollowed out to make space to age two whisky cocktails. Then you’ve got the stripped back, look of the sherry bar, Sack. Inspired by the taverns of Southern Spain, tiled floors are joined by hessian sacks and white washed walls which you can scrawl on in pen, lookout for my addition…a riddle. Upstairs you’ve got The Devil’s Darling, polished floors are joined by white table clothed tables with burnt orange chairs and emerald green lamps.
The Napoleon Suite is big – 40sq/m, in the words of the Step Brothers, there is so much room for activities. Red velvet sofas, bright, bold, geometric rugs, modern art and palm print wallpaper fill the space. There’s an excellent drinks cabinet filled with premade cocktails including a peanut butter and jam Old Fashioned; a kitchen area with automatic boiling water tap and of course the in-room elevator where you can order up cocktails and drinks. I’d look at having one installed at home if I could, but it rather defeats the point if you don’t have a mixologist at the other end. As for the bed, it’s huge, again I’d want one in my house, but I don’t think my room is big enough to hold it. Safe to say we (even if it is a cliché) slept like logs. The room also has touches such as books about bar tending and Alexa, which is connected to Spotify, great, until she turns into a creep and announces in the middle of the night that she has a good song for us and starts to sing Auld Lang Syne – you ok hun?
The bathroom is a little clinical with black and white tiled floors, tiled walls and a yellow shower curtain which is reminiscent of a something you’d see in a hospital but there’s a wonderful roll top bath and Aesop products to make up for it.
What We Ate: Whilst none of the bars have full food menus, you can use the in-room elevator to order up snacks or down in Black Rock they do a rather good Scotch Egg which they make and bake to order and serve with a whisky mayonnaise. The mini bar is well stocked, but pricey, your bag of Haribo is going to set you back £4.
What We Drank: If you don’t even have to leave the building to go to bed then you might as well try all three bars. We started in Sack with their take on an Old Fashioned, made with sherry of course, and then sipped on Oloroso Abocado Cristina. Downstairs in Black Rock, we tried Peat, an Islay blended malt scotch whisky and Nikka Coffeey malt whisky. Working our way back to the top of the building we sipped prosecco (it’s on the house) in The Devil’s Darling as we chose our drinks – the classic martini.
Go With: With only a double bed, it’s going to be someone you don’t mind sharing with and someone you don’t mind drinking with.
Final Word: It sounds rather novel, ‘London’s Smallest Grand Hotel’ but actually The Napoleon is rather brilliant. Yes, it needs a few tweaks here and there, small things like the right number of towels, making sure the fresh milk is actually fresh and a way to close the blinds in the bathroom (if you get stuck then the coat hanger is rather useful), but it’s well on its way.
The Napoleon Hotel: 9 Christopher Street, Hackney, EC2A 2BS