London’s Clerkenwell is the perfect anchor from which to explore, party, eat your way around or do business in London. Bang in the middle of East and West End, guests have a veritable feast of options within reach. Soho is a short bus journey and you can be in Shoreditch in a matter of minutes. The capital’s business district is visible if only you look skywards and a host of Michelin-starred restaurants are walking distance away. The convenience means taking in a show at the Barbican and raving your socks off at Fabric doesn’t have to be a one-or-the-other choice.
All of this cries out for the perfect launchpad, a place which doesn’t prioritise prime location over personality but provides both. Enter The Zetter.
An area with so much to grab our attention demands somewhere which will do more than just turn your head – it needs to capture you and hold you in a deep embrace. Just like Clerkenwell itself, The Zetter Hotel has enough charisma and quirk to do just that.
Housed close to where Clerkenwell Road meets St. John St. and easily accesible from numerous tube stops (Barbican, Chancery Lane, and Angel to name but a few) and overground stations (Farringdon, Shoreditch), one could cast a rod in any direction and snag something to occupy themselves with. We suggest trying to catch a show at nearby Sadlers Wells Theatre, the renowned performing arts venue, or cruising down to Smithfields, London’s last surviving meat market. The Zetter Hotel is also close to Exmouth market which is full of stalls serving superb street-eats with restaurant potential. Don’t miss Leather Lane, a short stroll away, historically a bric-a-brac market, but now a hub of some of the best street-food in central London. For the culture-vultures, a visit to the The Charles Dickens Museum is a must. The list of things that you can do in the hotel’s surrounding area goes on , the location is that good.
STYLE & CHARACTER
Right on the shore of the hipster’s ditch, there are beards and tattoos rubbing shoulders with suits and ties. Colour wise, deep purples, mauves and auburns, as well as a predilection for hoops and stripes, create a fun, groovy feel. It’s modern and just the right side of minimalist. Although the furnishings are lush and plush, we don’t see opulence and the inevitable stuffiness that brings.
A basic room provides all the comforts one needs as a platform for city exploration. The higher you get, the more spacious the boudoirs become, and floor five plays host to four beautiful, airy ones. Beds are large and a subsequent menace to your evening plans – once sunk into them, that dinner reservation you made at St. John a five minute walk away suddenly seems an effort. They’re that comfortable. All the rooms are perfectly formed and are filled with thoughtful touches and quirky little nick-knacks like personally selected penguin paperbacks. We especially loved the whimsical snow globe of The Zetter Hotel and using the miniature toiletries from cult brand REN was just pure pleasure. However it’s the rooftop rooms that will take your breath away – taking in London is a joy from up here, and the din of people enjoying themselves under the bright lights of the Capital has a magnetic pull.
Adjacent to the reception is the hotel’s very own wine bar, all smooth city sophistication. This is coupled with the Zetter’s own restaurant and breakfast is provided until pleasingly late, perfect if a drink at the BrewDog pub opposite turned into a night-out in nearby Hoxton (guilty). The hotel also hosts a rotating cast of local artists in residence, a nice touch which adds to the elegant yet laid-back focus of the place.
FOOD & DRINK
The Zetter restaurant and Wine Bar offers a focal point for breakfast, lunch and dinner and is an appealing prospect – so much so that many from the business district chose the bar for a wind down drink on the way home. There is a stirling wine list for a place of this size so be sure not to pass over the bar at some point during your stay.
The restaurant’s menu is refined and worldly and certainly not in the perfunctory role of many of London’s boutique hotel restaurants. Cooking is assured and confident, ingredients seasonal and partnerships thoughtfully consummated. Right in the thick of both mackerel and tomato season, we went for the Isle of Wight tomatoes and house-smoked mackerel, which combined smokey with the sweet and sour thrill of fresh tomatoes lightly and with elegance. The ever-happy bedfellows of beetroot and goat’s curd gave the comforting satisfaction only a happy marriage like this can. Cod was aptly cooked, with saline and oceanic notes provided by mussels and samphire. Seaweed completed a carefully composed dish. All in all, though few risks were taken, this was a menu perfectly curated and carried-out.
Breakfast offers tried and tested classics – anything eggy is a good place to start – alongside more health-conscious berry and muesli options. Great coffee and house-blended fruit smoothies washed everything down and sent us on our away happy and content.
London has so much to see and to do and Clerkenwell seems to have it all within reach. With an itinerary packed to breaking point, visitors and city folk alike need somewhere slick, sophisticated and smoothly-run to launch from at the start of, and fall into after, a long day. The Zetter Hotel is this place.
Address: St John’s Square, 86-88 Clerkenwell Rd, Clerkenwell, London EC1M 5RJ, UK
Disclosure: IDEAL stayed as a guest of the hotel