In The Independent’s travel trends column, Trendwatch, we dig into the types of trip, modes of transport and top buzzwords to watch out for.
Crack open the tonic and prepare the chilled glasses – this one’s a trend that has been steadily growing for a few years now and shows no signs of abating: the boozy hotel.
In recent years, the UK has seen a handful of delightful, whisky-and-gin-themed hideaways crop up in or attached to distilleries. Among them are Raasay Distillery in the Inner Herbides – Scotland’s only whisky maker where you can stay in the same building as the fermenting drams; The Distillery in London, a genteel British crashpad where you can blend your own gin above a Notting Hill pub; Guernsey’s chic Bella Luce (home to Wheadon Gin); and Scotland’s cosy Bowmore Cottages, set on the Bowmore whisky estate in Islay.
This month, Hensol Castle Distillery – set in a gothic castle with fairytale turrets and a history dating back to 1419 – opens 26 bedrooms above its craft gin distillery, where you can drop in to make your own botanical blend, attend a mixology workshop or tuck into a Welsh gin afternoon tea. It runs everything from a “Gintroduction” 101 to a food-led “Distil While You Dine” experience.
The idea is that a distillery becomes a destination in itself. It can be set in a remote, ideally naturally beautiful location, but has no need to be part of an established tourist trail. The immersive, luxurious experience of going, tasting, eating, drinking (and maybe creating your own potion) makes it a fully fleshed-out break for foodies.
It’s not just a UK phenomenon, either. Across the pond in New York State, Hudson House is set in an old monastery in the Hudson Valley, less than two hours’ drive north of Manhattan. At the moment it’s a tranquil waterfront distillery brewing up small-batch rye, bourbon and vodka, with tours on offer – but its next move is to open a series of boutique hotel rooms, along with a dock for people to arrive by boat or set off on river cruises hosted by the distillery.
Down Mexico way, the worldwide trend for tequila and mezcal – formerly seen as a last-resort student union shot and a working-class Mexican homebrew – has conjured two magical new distillery hotels….
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