I blimmin love a good cocktail! So you can imagine my excitement when I was invited to attend a Cocktail Making Masterclass at the citizenM London Bankside Hotel. I’d not heard of citizenM before but was really intrigued when I looked on their website and saw their modern twist on the classic hotel experience. I couldn’t wait to get down to their perfectly located London Bankside Hotel and get exploring (whilst sipping on a refreshing cocktail or two!)
As it’s name suggests, the citizenM London Bankside Hotel sits parallel to the Southbank. Ten minutes from London Bridge station and a stones throw from the Tate Modern, Millennium Bridge and The Globe, this is a great central place to stay in London. The first thing I noticed as I walked into the hotel was the cute doormat which complimented my shoes – my kind of doormat! The citizenM London Bankside is full of quirky little touches like this, which show it is no ordinary hotel!
As my nicely complimented shoes and I continued into the lobby area we immediately noticed what a busy, exciting atmosphere there was – again not like a usual hotel where the lobby is so quiet you can hear a pin drop! (I’ll stop referring to my shoes as people now FYI). To the left was an open deli style canteen area with a gorgeous selection of pastries, salads and hot dishes for guests to help themselves to (which you apparently scan straight onto your room bill automatically – fancy!) In the middle of the open plan lobby was the bar (more about this later) and to the right, a gorgeous seating area with bookshelves, huge squashy sofas, TV’s and even a fire! It’s basically a huge living room inside a hotel which is pretty awesome as often hotels can feel quite impersonal and as if you have to stay stuck upstairs in your room the whole time. This, it turns out, is the antithesis of the citizenM lifestyle, whereby guests are encouraged to spend time in the “living room”and “kitchen” areas, just as you would at home.
I headed for the bar and met my fellow bloggers who’d be mixing up a cocktail storm with me – the lovely Jazz from Jazzabelle’s Diary and Rebecca from It’s Cohen. We settled down and were met by Mark our cocktail making mastermind. Mark showed us a couple of tricks and how to mix the perfect fresh lemonade, complete with lots of shaker shaking and impressive twirling and then it was our turn! We were given complete run of the bar and told to mix whatever we liked to create our perfect cocktails! Woahh this could be dangerous!
I’m a big gin fan so headed straight for the Hendricks. As it’s infused with cucumber I decided to add some actual cucumber to my drink and muddled a few slices in the bottom of the shaker. I then decided to add a little squirt of Campari to give it a bitter twist and topped with cranberry juice and a swirl of strawberry syrup for a sweet finish. I gave it a good old shake like a pro… and then ruined the illusion by not being able to get the top of the shaker off the glass below! Doh! Mark showed us the correct position the shaker and glass need to be in to remove easily. I quickly adjusted it, gave it another good smack and…. nothing! I couldn’t get it to budge at all! A good few smacks and a very red hand later, the shaker remained well and truly stuck and Mark had to do it for me! Tom Cruise’s role in Cocktail is still safe then! I drained my (stubborn) shaker, poured over ice and finished with a garnish of cucumber and The Emsyginkle was born! I was pretty pleased with how my first cocktail turned out – it certainly looked pretty with a bright pink colour, and also tasted pretty good too! The cucumber made it taste nice and fresh and the Campari and Hendricks gave it a good kick! It was really fun tasting everyone else’s cocktails too and seeing what ingredients they’d played around with, one even included beer which was surprisingly really nice!
With delicious drinks in hand, the hotel manager (also called Marc) took us upstairs to have a nosy around the key part of any hotel – the bedrooms! As I’ve said, citizenM is a very modern and innovative hotel experience and this was never so apparent as in the bedrooms – they were like something out of the Jetsons– so space age! The room was very compact but without feeling cramped, with each station being designed to totally utilise the space. The bed was HUMONGOUS – literally the width of the room – and took up the far wall, laid out to double up as a sofa during the day (not that you need it when the lobby is filled with super squashy leather sofas and comfy arm chairs). The rain shower and toilet are housed inside a little capsule like pod and amazingly you can change the lights to whatever colour you like just to make bathroom time a bit more fun! How cool is that?! Each room also has a small desk and a sink console compactly tucked to the walls. The thing that really impressed me however was the fact that each room is controlled by a tablet which allows you to adjust the room’s temperature, lighting, blinds and TV, as well as accessing free wifi and a series of free movies! Awesome! This is definitely the perfect room for a weekend away in London when you’ll most likely be out and about exploring the city, but want to come back to a nice comfy bed and cuddle up watching a film, whilst uploading all your pics to Instagram. It’s neat and functional and very very cool with mod cons and no fuss. Perfect!
With a quick stop to check out the meeting rooms which can be hired out (which again are really jazzy with some pretty funky accessories) and a look at the living room side of the reception area, we headed back down to the bar area ready to mix our second cocktail. Mark told us that this time he’d be watching us mixing and be taste testing each of our drinks and the person with the best cocktail concoction would win two nights in the citizenM hotel of their choice. Wowza! With hotels in Paris, Amsterdam and New York this was definitely a competition I wanted to win!
I decided to make another gin based drink, this time opting for classic Bombay Sapphire, a squeeze of lime juice, a few dashes of Angostura bitters and then topped up with ginger beer and garnished with a lime. I have to say, I was pretty pleased with how it came out, it was just the right balance of sweet and sour and really refreshing – I would totally buy this in a bar! Excitingly Mark agreed and I WON THE COMPETITION WAHOO! I still can’t quite believe it!
After a celebratory shot and a bit more of an explore of the trendy lobby (which also included finding a giant picture of Robbie Williams holding a glittery union jack thong – ooh I say!) it was time to skip home and tell my boyfriend that we would soon be staying in one of the coolest and most unique hotels I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting! (I haven’t planned which citizenM hotel I’ll be staying in yet but I’ll keep you posted!)
Have you stayed in a hotel like the citizenM London Bankside before?
I live in Brixton in London. I eat out far too much, am always planning my next trip and have a borderline unhealthy obsession with Harry Potter.