The one thing Londoner’s can never say is that they’re not spoilt for choice. Hundreds of restaurants, thousands of bars, about a million branches of Pret. So when we were faced with a 4 drink cocktail menu at The Devil’s Darling in the Napoleon Hotel, we were able to spend more time focussed on enjoying the drinks and less time trying to make difficult ordering decisions.
The Napoleon Hotel is the world’s smallest boutique hotel. It has one bedroom, and what a lucky bedroom it is; receiving room service from each bar in the building, of which there are three, each specialising in a different area of drinking culture.
In the basement you’ll find Black Rock, a bar that infuses a superb whiskey collection with a hip hop soundtrack, while above it on the ground floor is Sack, a sherry bar inspired by the traditional tabancos and bodegas of southern Spain and Andalusia.
And on the first floor, The Devil’s Darling, the main hotel bar of the building which pays homage to Napoleon’s coronation, of which there is a wallpaper mural hanging behind the bar which stretches much of the length of the small room. The room is dimly lit by beautiful green glass lampshades on the tables which make it extremely relaxing and mildly romantic. The night was balmy, so my friend and I grabbed a seat by the window and allowed the breeze to cool us as.
The Napoleon was renovated earlier this year and bar manager Jaz told us the team’s plans for The Devil’s Darling is the step into more of a French inspired drinking space, complete with a lot of absinthe. Music is played on a vinyl player and if you smile nicely (and promise not to go too rogue) they might let you pick your favourite song to accompany your drinks.
Speaking of the drinks, it’s all about tradition here. They specialise in classic cocktails, and while they are happy to take requests, they like to keep the menu simple with just three drinks consisting of a tall, a short and a straight up. The drinks change daily, and Jaz likes to create his menu based on the weather, which explains the presence of an extremely refreshing and cooling Gin Rickey on the night of our visit. This was the night’s long drink made with Scapegrace gin, lime juice and soda and priced at £11.
On some occasions, the team do like to break their three drink menu rule, and as they just so happened to be in possession of a rather delicious vintage bottle of 1970’s Gordon’s Gin, there was a Dry Martini on the menu, too, that I just had to try. For £18 this was possibly the smoothest martini I have ever had the pleasure of enjoying. A lot can be said for almost 50 years in a bottle.
I don’t think there is anything not to like about a hotel that has a 3:1 ratio of bars to bedrooms, especially when the bars are so interesting and the drinks are so delicious. The Devil’s Darling is full of charm and whether it’s for a relaxing drink after a day working in The City or to whet your whistles before a night out in Shoreditch, this is the perfect bar to spend a few luxurious hours in.