Kneeling at the alter of opulence

House of Gods expands with new sister venue and plans for a Glasgow hotel

Casablanca Cocktail Club
Casablanca Cocktail Club is located next door to House of Gods and has a similar aesthetic.

WHEN two entrepreneurs name their hotel House of Gods, it’s a safe bet that their ambitions aren’t exactly modest.

And two years after the opening of the Edinburgh boutique hotel, with a new restaurant and cocktail bar launched in an adjoining building and House of Gods hotels set to be created in Glasgow and Manchester, those far-from-modest ambitions are now coming to fruition.

Mike Baxter, who founded House of Gods with brother Ross, said the aim when developing the hotel was to create a space that “harkened back to the golden age of travel, when travel was as much about the travel as the destination”.

“We took that vibe, we twisted it with neon, we threw in a whole load of cocktails, we gave it a pretty ostentatious name with House of Gods, and we slowly, over a year or two, created a brand that we would absolutely love to go to ourselves,” said Mike.

A “maximalist” approach was taken throughout the 22-bedroom venue, with opulence the goal in every space.

From Gucci Heron wallpaper to Pinot Noir velvet wall coverings, oak panelling to floor-to-ceiling marble, each of the room types – from the Orient Express-themed Cabin room to the Versailles-inspired Classic and the Suite, which features its own free-standing Victorian bathtub – has its own extravagant touches.

Mike drove the interior design himself, and the business employs its own architects and contractors so that the team is in full control of the project during development.

The opulence isn’t limited to the furnishings.

Every room features its own ‘butler buttons’, which guests can use to summon milk and cookies or Prosecco.

For an additional fee, customers can book their own in-room bartender if they don’t feel like venturing to the hotel’s cocktail lounge and there’s an in-room playlist designed to match the venue’s drinks selection.

Last month, the hotel was joined by the new Casablanca Cocktail Club sister venue; a restaurant and cocktail bar open from 5pm till 3am.

Located next door to House of Gods, Casablanca has a similarly overstated style,
Mike said: “We took inspiration from some of the really cool vibe dining places you would see in LA and New York and we’ve created this very opulent, mirrored-ceilings, velvet-clad restaurant, which has also got two cocktail lounges.

“It’s licensed until three in the morning so after your dinner you can drink cocktails to your heart’s content.

“It’s just a really fun place. We opened last weekend. It’s been very successful.”

Casablanca’s cocktail list draws inspiration from stories of hotel excess. The Champagne Supernova, which combines Ketel One vodka with peach liqueur, lemon juice, Champagne and mint, was inspired by the hotel exploits of Oasis, for example, while the Exploding Drum – which mixes Tequila Blanco with passionfruit, orgeat syrup and citrus – pays tribute to The Who’s drummer, Keith Moon, and his legendary hotel adventures (which included stripping naked and then driving his Rolls Royce into a hotel swimming pool).

Suppliers include Tennent’s, Inverarity Morton and Liberty Wines.

Extravagance is evident again on the food side, with dishes including the Versace burger (made with wagyu beef and topped with Monterey Jack, lettuce and tomato); buttermilk fried chicken (served on a waffle, crispy cavolo nero and sriracha maple); and monkfish wrapped in parma ham (served with mango and pineapple salsa, saffron potatoes, lamb’s leaf, dill and charred lemon).

“What we’re finding is that with most people who come to House of Gods or come to Casablanca, it’s a celebration, it’s a birthday, it’s something special,” said Mike.

“We’re certainly no burger bar on the way home from work.”

Having perfected the offer in Edinburgh, the Baxters are now planning on rolling the concept out to other cities.

They have acquired the former Peckhams building in Glasgow’s Merchant City as well as a property in central Manchester, and both sites will be transformed into House of Gods hotels, opening next summer.

“We’re just so incredibly excited about the Glasgow one,” said Mike.

“I’m from Glasgow originally. My family are born and bred in Hillington [and] my brother and I are just so excited about going to Glasgow.”