…Where British charms meet Nigerian lifestyles
By LAWRENCE ENYOGHASU
“This is the hotel,” said Emeka with firm conviction, “I can’t miss it. It looks very different from all the hotels I have been to.”
My cousin’s words sharpened my awareness and I scrutinized the edifice closely as we drew closer.
From the entrance of the estate, the white-and-red brick building towers over the fence––conspicuously on the left side of the estate––and the hotel radiates an exotic aura that drew visitors into the premises.
Inside, it struck me as a quaint pub, fit for a James Bond movie, the kind of posh and exclusive place in the heart of London where 007 hangs out for some good time––to flex and flirt––before jetting out on Her Majesty’s mission to hunt the bad guys around the globe. If you have an eye for details, you won’t miss the dead-on likeness. There was something British in the details.
Yet Proof Hotel and Lounge, located at No. 8, Rafiat Ayinke Tinundu Close, off new Market Road, Oniru, is very Nigerian.
Gilded with the usual gloss, glitz and glitters of high-end outlets on the island, it is a place where the London lifestyle meets the Lagos finesse.
While it is not a facsimile of the Duke’s Bar where Mr Bond enjoys his Vesper Martini, there is, however, a similitude to the typical London bar in the depth and diversity of the drinks available, from signature cocktail to vintage champagne. The Nigerian essence is strongly infused in perfect proportion, blended into the air and aura in a way that fills revellers with a stimulating sensation.
I had my eye on the glassed sit-out balcony higher up at the rooftop. A wooden stair, sparkling tan, as if it was just polished some minutes before our arrival, spiralled up to a lounge. We climbed the zigzag steps into the balcony and found ourselves in the lounge. The wooden floor was a perfect dance floor.
We were lured back, down the stairs to the poolside by soft jazz oozing into the dark night. The source was from the pool bar adjacent the entrance gate, and the music was by Black Motion, one of Africa’s best.
The barman, busy mixing a cocktail, moved in ways that showed what he was doing was beyond duty. It was an art.
We were contemplating whether to sit down and enjoy the night at the pool bar or explore the hotel first when a young man strode in our direction and dropped a valuable hint: “Just explore the hotel”––as if he heard us from far.
The pool, he told us, is the exclusive reserve of in-house guests.
The man, whose name was Kayode, took us back to the VIP Lounge on the third floor.
Strolling side by side, our newfound-guide, unveiled the full facets of the new-in-town hotel. He spoke of the ambition to translate it into a topnotch English hotel and the task and target thereof––the strenuous task of blending hotel and lounging, and the set objective of creating a unique hotel experience that combines seamlessly the finest qualities of the bouquet hotel and the standard full-service hotel. To this end, the hotel’s 19 rooms are divided into three distinct categories––Cozy, Noble and Blaise.
“We are trying to make it special for a category of people and to host exclusive events. We are trying hard to pitch it as a hotel also while having it in mind that the lounge can’t suffer for the hotel and vice versa,” Kayode stated.
The night was fun and memorable.
Did I tell you that they have a house rule that you don’t consume alcohol while having a meal? It is strictly water or soft drinks.
Since it was publicly unveiled on January 13, The Proof has attracted a steady stream of young, well-heeled patrons. They come for various reasons. Some to relax after office hours, but relapsing into a subtle work mode using the free Wifi; others, simply to enjoy, socialising. Overall, it’s continental cuisine and a fantastic range of cocktails and drinks have been big draws. Imagine: lodgers wake up to a continental breakfast, à la carte every morning.
Since February 1, The Proof has become a hub of weekly gigs and gaiety. We went there on Wednesday, on its Jazz Night, which lasted till 11 pm. Thursday, the Karaoke Night from 6 to 10 pm, draws different types of revellers. We agreed our next visit should be on Friday when we can take advantage of the Happy Hour’s bonanza of 50 percent discount on all drinks from 6 to 8 pm.
The service is slick, a proof of The Proof’s mission to “deliver an unforgettable experience.”
Really, what makes it different?
Somehow, its Bondesque aura stays with me. Each time I called for a refill, I expect to hear that bond signature call for his martini cocktail, “shaken not stirred.” Poor me. That’s what watching too much Bond movies does to your mind.
At last, it dropped into my consciousness.
The Proof is a gentleman’s place.