One of the best parts of a hotel stay is spoiling yourself with a little room service. And when it comes to indulging in your favourite cocktail, that in-suite mini bar doesn’t always cut it, which is why some savvy hotels have jumped on board the burgeoning travel trend of bedside mixology. From dedicated cocktail butlers who pop by to sling signature concoctions to on-demand bar carts replete with everything you need for a DIY drink, these hotel perks ensure you can catch a buzz without leaving your room – or getting out of your pyjamas).
The trend is on the rise in North America, appearing everywhere from international hotel brands to boutique properties in cities known for their colourful cocktail culture. Take the James Hotels. Drawing inspiration from the vibrant nightlife scenes of its New York locations, the company offers an in-room cocktail experience. Guests checking into the chain’s Soho property will find their rooms equipped with all the supplies necessary to create bespoke cocktails, including a perfectly proportioned array of liquors, mixers – even a pint glass printed with a curated selection of foolproof recipes.
The do-it-yourself mentality has proven popular. In Toronto, the Drake Hotel welcomes visitors with its in-room Drink Well program, an à-la-carte menu ranging from Reyka small batch vodka to Hendrick’s gin, with fashionable accoutrements such as Sicilian lemon tonic water and elderflower-infused lemonade. A selection of beer and wine is also available, ideal for getting a head start on a night out or a hair-of-the-dog remedy.
Those looking for a less hands-on interpretation of the trend have plenty of options to choose from. The Darcy, which opened its doors in Washington last April, has seen success with its cocktail butler. Guests can contact the front desk to summon the hotel’s cocktail cart to their rooms, where a mixologist will create custom cocktails (or mocktails) featuring favourite local libations, such as Green Hat gin and Element [Shrub]. In Chicago, meanwhile, a leather-bound bar cart dubbed the Prohibition Porter makes its rounds through the halls of The Gwen, A Luxury Collection Hotel. When booked in advance, a bartender will wheel the cart up and create complex concoctions during a 30-minute demonstration.
In Aspen, Colo., Hotel Jerome has a cocktail cart that travels from room to room serving seasonal specialties like hot toddies made with local Woody Creek Distillers’s single-barrel rye whiskey. And Four Seasons Hotel Austin launches its Margarita Cart on May 1. Guests simply press a margarita button on the phone in their room to call for a bartender, and are able to choose from more than 500 different combinations of salts and garnishes to be mixed in front of them.
Across the Atlantic, hotels are getting creative with bedside cocktail programs, with a slew of inventive offerings in London. At the iconic 45 Park Lane overlooking Hyde Park, thirsty patrons can request a special delivery from the hotel’s one-of-a-kind Negroni Trolley, which serves up three variations of the time-honoured cocktail. The Curtain, one of the buzziest newcomers to London’s Shoreditch neighbourhood, also employs a barman who mixes on-demand, in-room cocktails for guests each afternoon from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. And serious bedheads who demand stellar service but prefer to avoid face-to-face interactions should check into The Napoleon Hotel. Travellers staying in the Napoleon Suite (the hotel’s sole guest room) will find a room-service card containing a handful of signature tipples; they can jot down their order and send it via dumbwaiter to one of the three bars downstairs. Within minutes, a bartender will send the lift back up to the room with the desired drink, mixed to perfection.
So the next time you find yourself checking into a swanky suite on your travels, you may just be able to bring the bar to you.