A partnership between Bombay Sapphire and – improbably – the wine-heaped environs of the Vineyard Hotel in Newbury, the Bombay Gin Break is a package holiday designed with the more holistic bon viveur in mind. Arrive to complementary gin and tonics, then head to the very place they were made to discover just what it was you put in your body, only to drink yet more juniper juice before you head home, a tad more askew than when you arrived.
The hotel: Situated just off a main road in a blob of inter-town countryside, the Vineyard is an uninspiring slab of whitewash and glass. But, much like owner and vintner Peter Michael’s beloved wine bottles, it’s what’s inside that counts. In the public areas, the 30,000-bottle cellar seems to spill up out of the seams between wall and floor to form enticing art installations, and the squashily sofa’d California Bar offers a bright, airy space to get gently sozzled on sommelier-picked “Wine Flight” menus. Rooms are as well-appointed as they are plush, peering out over manicured gardens, with marbled bathrooms offering a touch of old-world class.
Ask about: The hotel spa is set down an airlock-y corridor in what appears to be a spaceship extension to the more traditional hotel building. It features a jacuzzi, steam room, sauna, and a massage jet-enabled circular pool, all of which is open to you as part of your stay. Rated 5 stars by the Good Spa Guide and open until 8pm, it makes a pleasantly warm early evening retreat. Spa treatments aren’t included in the package, but prices won’t scare too many away.
And then? A trip to the Bombay Sapphire distillery at Laverstoke Mill awaits. Comprising a self-guided tour around the mill’s grounds – recently refurbished and boasting some unexpectedly stunning architectural flourishes – a chaperoned trip around the stills and, crucially, a gin cocktail based on your favourite botanicals used in the creation process, it’s not an exclusive experience, but there’s enough to engage even fairweather museum-goers. Speaking of fair weather, try and pick a weekend you can guarantee won’t feature rain – the joy of listening to the travails of gin history through tinny speakers may lose its lustre in a shower.
Where should I eat? Included in the package is the hotel’s Discovery tasting menu, an absurdly delicious five-course obstacle course of flavours. Lobster, watermelon and black curry muscle for flavour against various and exclusively brilliant excisions of quail, lamb and crab. At the end, a waiter will carefully dissemble, fiddle with, and reassemble a chocolate and passionfruit eclair for you, at which point you may struggle not to kiss them, and everyone around you.