The Zetter Townhouse Clerkenwell
What We Love
- The Victorian-style bar that serves some of London’s best cocktails—no small feat in a city with a longstanding distilling heritage
- Traditional afternoon tea featuring thin cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches and strawberry shortcake is served in the lounge every afternoon
- The rooms’ homey yet luxurious atmosphere
- Exploring the cobblestoned streets of Clerkenwell, home to excellent restaurants
What To Know
- Complimentary Brompton bikes are available for exploring the charming neighborhood of Clerkenwell
- Children are welcome—the hotel has cots and rollaway beds—although there are no special amenities or activities for little ones
- In-room massages are available upon request, and guests can get a day pass to a nearby gym
- Breakfast is served at sister Zetter Hotel across the street
The 13-room Zetter Townhouse occupies two renovated Georgian buildings across the street from its larger sister property, The Zetter Hotel. Behind a prudent blue door lies a flamboyant atmosphere that looks like it was decorated by an eccentric (and quite well-heeled) British auntie. In fact, the portrait of an imaginary Great Aunt Wilhelmina hangs near the reception, next to a hodgepodge of bordeaux velvet sofas, bookshelves crammed with old tomes and trinkets, and a rather striking collection of taxidermy that includes a cat in a vintage dress (yes, you read that right). A section of the ground floor is occupied by the award-winning cocktail bar, with a menu created by master mixologist Tony Conigliaro. Tipples with names like Somerset Sour, Twinkle, and The Flintlock are concocted from house-made bitters, herbal remedies, tinctures, and cordials. There’s also tasty gastropub fare like fried anchovy-stuffed olives and Scotch eggs. For a full meal, guests can go to the much-lauded restaurant at The Zetter, which also provides breakfast and room service. Bedrooms are slightly more subdued than common areas, though they feature exotic accents like headboards fashioned out of repurposed carousels, Buddhist statues, and intricately carved four-poster beds. Flat-screen televisions, classic novels, artisan teas, and Egyptian cotton linens are among the nice in-room amenities.
In the Area
The neighborhood of Clerkenwell has managed to maintain an intimate old-school vibe that sets it apart from other parts of central London. Along its cobblestone streets, artisanal producers stand next to award-winning restaurants and bars. Chief among them is St. John, where celebrated chef Fergus Henderson pioneered the nose-to-tail movement. Another Michelin-starred restaurant in the area, Club Gascon, serves dishes from Gascony, chef Pascal Aussignac’s native land. Modern Pantry is the place to go on sunny days; guests make a beeline for its spacious outdoor terrace on St. John’s Square, where they can dig into casual dishes infused with worldly flavors. And then there’s the Zetter Hotel’s own excellent restaurant, which specializes in modern, locally sourced cuisine.
How to Get There
Located in a quiet square just off of Clerkenwell Road, this is a relatively small hotel spread across three floors with a cocktail bar on the ground floor. It creates quite an impression when you first walk in, it’s certainly not like any other hotel lobby I’ve ever been in, although that fact there is no lobby as such, it’s just the bar area, accounts for this at least in part. It’s certainly very atmospheric, with all manner on bits and pieces around, but at the same time is quite elegant and relaxing. I was certainly looking forward to trying it later for a cocktail or two (although hotel residents receive 15% off food and drink, by the time they’ve added on a 12½% service charge you’re not really saving that much).
We had requested a quiet room, so I was initially somewhat nonplussed to be shown to one on the first floor directly above the bar, although as it happened the soundproofing must be really top notch, because despite the bar being busy and noisy in the evening, we did not hear any noise at all in our room. The room itself was a good size, with a couple of small tables and comfy chairs as well as the bed. The bed itself was ridiculously high off the floor, certainly the highest I have ever come across, and would certain present a problem for anyone with reduced mobility. Recognising this, a small stool is provided, but this is certainly not ideal and there was only one stool whereas of course there are likely to be two of you in the bed. The lady who checked us in took great pains to point out that we had complimentary water and drinks, but in practise this was just bottled tap water and the usual tea and coffee facilities. There were not even any complimentary biscuits, as is usually the case. If you were happy to pay though, there was a well-stocked snack tray and mini-bar. Other facilities included a safe, TV and so on. The décor in the room, like the bar downstairs, was quite unusual, finished in a deep red colour and with very low level lighting. Whilst this might create a pleasant ambience, it made reading in bed (or anywhere else for that matter unless you positioned yourself directly under one of the two spotlights) completely impossible, and putting on make-up was largely a matter of guesswork. Definitely a case of form over function.
The bathroom consisted of a shower over the bath rather than a separate cubicle, and the bath, whilst very deep, was also extremely high and many people would find it difficult to climb in I would imagine. Unusually for a hotel of this calibre, the floor was not heated, but everything was clean and tidy and the shower was hot and powerful. The mirror, which had been made to look very old with dark patches around, was presumably quite modern as it included a heating element to keep it steam free. A newspaper was delivered to our room in the morning which I thought was a nice touch, but oddly had been removed by house-keeping by the time we returned from our day out. Who’s going to stop and read a paper before going out for the day?
We had continental breakfast included with our rate, and this was served in the cocktail bar downstairs. Consequently, it was not ideal for eating, with low tables and comfy, relaxing chairs. Fine for drinking, but not so much for eating. The choice was fairly limited, with a selection of cereals, fruit and pastries, with no cold meat, cheese or yoghurts for example. That said, what we did have was all pretty good. There were five or six cereals to choose from and the granola was very good, as was the freshly squeezed orange juice. Fruit consisted of prepared mixed berries, fruit salad, melon and pineapple along with Greek yoghurt, whilst the pastries were Pan au Chocolate, Danish and croissants, the latter of which were especially good. Cooked options were also available for an extra charge, although we did not try these.
Overall despite some minor niggles, I thought this was a very nice and stylish hotel with all the staff being very friendly and helpful. That said, it did seem rather expensive for what we got, even for London, and I’m not sure I’d rush back there again on that basis.
the Zetter Townhouse Clerkenwell is a special spot. A true boutique hotel with unique style and friendly, welcoming service.
Our room was especially cozy. We stayed in the Townhouse suite with our kids and it was perfectly suited for our family. They have a great tea service in the afternoon and the bar was wonderful for mom and dad after the kids went to sleep. The breakfast was great as well. It was fairly basic, continental style, but lots of great choices and a cozy setting near a wood fire in the lobby.
The hotel is great for walking and close to Tube service and mainline train service as well. It was a great jumping off point for the Theatre district and museums.The neighborhood had great restaurants nearby as well.
I would recommend this spot to anyone traveling alone or with a family to London. We will definitely stay here on our next trip across the pond.
Just back from another weekend in this lovely place. Amazing decor, lovely food and outstanding service from friendly, efficient staff. I nearly didn’t write this review as I don’t want too many people to discover this gem! The setting, in a little cobbled square, the attention from the friendly staff and the interior design, make a stay here like a visit to a private house. There’s a hot water bottle in your bedroom!!
Beautiful rooms and a fabulous cocktail lounge. We stayed over our wedding weekend and we couldn't have picked a more perfect spot. The staff were friendly and accommodating and made us feel right at home.
Love the Zetter. Have stayed a few times now and haven’t managed to write a review but felt I must after the last stay. One of the best cocktail bars in London and always such a great vibe. Rooms are theatrical, luxurious with a sense of humour. The hotel oozes character, warmth and individuality - no corporate slick or meanness here.