Weekend wine tasting in London Town
In an effort to make my annual visit home feel more like a holiday, I have been trying to do more tourist activities in England during each stay. This summer, a friend and I decided to check in to a nice hotel in London and take part in one of the wine tasting experiences that Vinopolis offers tourists, daytrippers and wine lovers from all over the country.
After a quick scan on lastminute.com we booked a twin room at the Doubletree Hilton Tower Bridge for the night which was offering a fantastic rate, especially for such a prime location. The hotel was more than nice, with a beautiful airy atrium lobby which was buzzing on a Friday morning, outstanding service with a delicious warm cookie as a welcome while we checked in and clean, comfortable rooms with iMac entertainment system.
The convenient location provided an easy and pleasant stroll along the banks of the River Thames with a brief crossing over the bridge to reach Borough Market, where we strolled past vendors selling an impressive array of international foods, from Spanish paella to Thai noodles and Lebanese falafel. Refueled and with bags full of gifts and treats we continued our meander through the streets to Vinopolis (a two-minute walk from Borough Market).
Vinopolis is located in the heart of Bankside and is a three acre wine cellar which offers educational and fun tasting experiences across a wide range of wines, in addition to gastronomic events and parties. The experience started with a group session led by one of the wine tasters, who showed us how to identify a wine through its colour, appearance, density, and smell. We were also educated on how to taste the wine properly to identify the key notes and characteristics before being shown around the huge atmospheric brick cellars and great halls, which still rumble every time the underground trains go past. There were separate tasting areas for white, red, sparking, dessert and fortified wines and, armed with all the newly acquired knowledge, we were left to peruse each section and use a token system to select and sample the wines that we liked. Additional quizzes helped to identify which tastes were our favourites, ensuring that we selected wines more suitable to our individual palates. We made it through the red, white, rose and sparkling, and decided to leave the fortified wines, vodka and absinthe for another occasion in order to get back to the hotel in one piece!
Unlike many business hotels, the Doubletree retained its charm and lively atmosphere even after the working week had concluded. The Skylounge rooftop bar is renowned in the city for its stunning views of the capital and clearly illuminated London Bridge, and made a great spot for enjoying a couple of cocktails. We were also impressed with the cafe next to the hotel which served good fresh food for breakfast, lunch or dinner, although service here was noticeably slower than in the hotel.
Unfortunately as is often the way with British summertime, after a fantastic day in the sun for the first day, we were treated to rain for our final day, pushing us away from the riverside walks and into the nearest tube station. Fortunately it wasn’t too miserable and after a few emergency dives into shops (we weren’t trying to shop – honestly!) the sky cleared a little and enabled us to wander around Covent Garden where I purchased a variety of gifts and souvenirs for those back in Dubai.
I would highly recommend the hotel and will be looking to visit again on my next trip, I’d also recommend Vinopolis for those looking for something a bit different to do, or as an unusual and memorable gift (as my trip was) – It was a fantastic break and a great way of spending quality time with a friend.