A hotel committed to reducing waste has done away with the traditional in-room minibar concept, but don’t worry, there’s still convenience on-demand,  and even an emergency engagement ring, should the mood strike.

No minibar, but this London hotel stocks engagement rings in its vending machine
Hotel vending machine offers engagement rings. Photo courtesy of Bankside Hotel

The Bankside Hotel on the south bank of London’s River Thames is a design-forward six-storey hotel that has art, innovation and sustainability at the forefront.

The hotel was designed to reflect the local artistic community; it neighbours the Tate Modern after all. There’s a multitude of artwork throughout the hotel, and each of the 161 rooms comes stocked with its own easel and paint kit. Guests will also find an on-site artist studio and an itinerary of talks and events highlighting emerging artists.

“The aim of the art kit is to give guests the opportunity to be creative and explore that side of themselves,” Douglas McHugh, general manager of Bankside told Lonely Planet News. “Guests seem to really enjoy interacting with the kit. Many of them use the [customisable] postcards, which we are only too delighted to post at our expense to the intended recipients.”

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Sustainability in hotels is an increasingly audible topic of conversation. Sure, Bankside has thought of elements like sourcing local, power-saving outlets, protocol to minimise waste, rooftop beehives and allocating open areas for co-working spaces. But it’s the pioneering approach to a different minibar concept that has got people talking.

Rather than the usual in-room selection, Bankside opted to install communal high-tech touch screen vending machines on each floor. The idea has been a success, as it means all guests have access to “quality” items, but in a more experiential way.

Bankside Hotel vending machine stocks engagement rings
Forgot the engagement ring? Don't worry, you get get one from the vending machine at this London hotel. Photo courtesy of Bankside Hotel

“We tailored the digital vending machines so that we could have both liquor – half bottles of champagne, wine and small bottles of name-brand spirits like Patron – and other accessories. They fit into the overall Bankside offering because they represent fun and a point of interest,” said McHugh.

As for accessories, think CBD drops, face masks, shaving kits and tights – which all sit neatly alongside Tom Ford sunglasses, sparkly hotpants and an adjustable diamond engagement ring.

“We didn’t want to fill our vending machines with just run-of-the-mill items,” the spokesperson added. “We wanted to include the fun and playful, as our guests tend to be comfortable in their own skin and don’t take themselves too seriously. We’ve had a few guests who have bought the ring and we’ve even had a spontaneous proposal in our restaurant.”

Now you know what to do with that half bottle of champagne!


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