The Malt Lounge at The Prince Akatoki London team, L-R Francesco Lombardi, Francesco Pittala, Laura Gandon, and Mateo Basso

The Malt Lounge at The Prince Akatoki London is back with a new Japanese-inspired menu, CLASS caught up with the hotel’s food and beverage manager Francesco Lombardi and bar manager Francesco Pittala ahead of the launch.

“Japan is what inspires us, and service is what sets us apart,” says Lombardi. “The Malt lounge is a very exclusive space, where we offer our guests great cocktails with a distinctive Japanese twist.”

The intimate 24-cover bar is heavily inspired by Japan. Fusuma panels adorn the walls, and the bartender works behind a minimalist island bar in front of a wall of Japanese whiskies.

The hotel launched shortly before the pandemic forced its doors closed, and while the closures may have dampened early momentum, the hotel has emerged with a new team.

“When we first opened, we had a lot of attention as the concept was new to the London scene,” explains Lombardi. “We were very busy, but with the pandemic, we lost all the momentum and, being a new brand, we had to start again in July when we re-opened.

“The whole food and beverage department was restructured. I joined in August 2021, we brought in a new bar manager, Francesco Pittala, and head bartender Matteo Basso. Together, we have started on a journey to give our bar identity and take it to the next level. The team is building our own laboratory to push boundaries, but we never want to lose focus on our tradition and style.”

The new menu, a journey through Japan, builds on the current menu, Minimalism, again with roots firmly found in Japan.

“The new menu will be a celebration of the Japanese culture, a journey through the country exploring the different aspects and characteristics of every region and prefecture,” says Pittala.

“The idea is to introduce our guests to new aromas based on Japanese ingredients. The real surprise will be not the cocktail itself but the whole experience.

“Most of our cocktails are twists on classics but what we do is highlight the Japanese aromas using different ingredients and local techniques to create new flavour profiles.”

The Malt Lounge at The Prince Akatoki will launch its new menu in October.