Saturday 1 October 2011

The Zetter Townhouse Hotel & Cocktail Lounge

It's not often I get a chance to review a beautiful hotel, so when The Zetter Townhouse offered me a room and dinner for two recently, I jumped at the chance. And I can honestly say, hand on heart, it is one of the coolest hotels in London. It's not too big, not too small, unintimidating and unpretentious, yet uniquely hip and full of opulent charm.

To some a hotel is just a place to rest your head, but to me it's an experience, a home-from-home and a decadent treat. So I would much rather stay somewhere special and make the most of the quality linen, luxurious toiletries and all the small, personal touches. Sometimes it's nice to just hibernate in a beautiful room, curled up in a huge, pillow-laden bed and splurge on lashings of room service. The Zetter Townhouse ticks all these boxes.

The Zetter Townhouse is situated within a pair of converted Georgian townhouses, located in Clerkenwell on a pretty cobblestone courtyard just across from its contrasting, contemporary sister hotel, The Zetter. Discreet and unassuming, this 13 bedroom boutique hotel opened earlier this year and has already proved to be a hit. I love the quirky, genteel feel of not only the bedrooms, but also the cocktail lounge, dining room, games room and even the loos!  Full of lovely antiques and strange objets d'art, the hotel interior has been cleverly designed by Russell Sage, using his trademark eclectic style.

As the hotel is small and informal, there is no grand reception area - you literally arrive at the pale blue front door and walk directly into the welcoming warmth of the cocktail lounge where a member of staff will greet you, sign you in and show you to your room. As a stuffed kangaroo eyes you up from the corner of the dining room, it feels more like you've arrived at the house of an eccentric old aunt than a hotel!

I was given a wonderful room (No.6 if you care to book the same one) which was one of the deluxe rooms available (there are also club rooms, suites and even a Townhouse Apartment.) The room was cosy yet spacious with a fun mix of furniture, art and accessories. I loved all the details such as the replica old-fashioned telephone and the handmade tapestry 'Not Now' and 'Clean Me' door signs. They even have hot water bottles in little knitted bags in case you get chilly! My favourite accessory was an antique radio which has been reconditioned to accommodate an iPod. I half expected to hear Churchill blaring out of the old crackling speakers, about fighting on the beaches.

Despite the old retro touches, the room also has modern luxuries including a flatscreen TV and a little mini-bar hidden in one of the cupboards with a tempting range of cocktails in minature bottles with an Alice In Wonderland-esque instruction label. A kettle and selection of teas and coffees were also provided, although some complimentary homemade biscuits wouldn't have gone amiss.

The room had a pleasant view over the courtyard, although the slight downfall was being awoken by the bin collection men at some unsociable hour. Otherwise this room was excellent, peaceful and very comfortable. I quite happily whiled away a few hours drinking tea, listening to wartime tunes on my iPod and reading a few of the glossy magazines provided, before heading down to the cocktail lounge. Later retiring to that wonderful bed, feeling like a member of Royalty, propped up by umpteen pillows, watching an old movie, before disappearing into the land of nod. You can see a panoramic view of the room here

The ensuite bathroom is simple and tastefully decorated with white tiles and chrome fittings. There is a lovely deep bath and a hand shower, which suited me fine as I much prefer a bath to a shower. There is even a Roberts radio for those who like to listen to The Archers (or perhaps KissFM) whilst having a soak. And a lovely selection of Ren products to pamper yourself with, before getting wrapped up in a fluffy robe and slippers.

Having discovered every inch of the 'sleeping quarters', it was time to investigate the Cocktail Lounge and beyond. In the basement, there is a Games Room, complete with a ping-pong table and board games. The stairwell walls are covered entirely in pages from various magazines and newspapers from days gone-by.

Just off the lounge area is a splendid private dining room, in the same eclectic style with hues of marooon, subtle lighting, impressive floral arrangements, and an array of antique oddities including that stuffed kangaroo who was as tall as me!  I believe he answers to the name of Will.

Amidst an abundance of knick-knacks, uncoordinated furniture, obscure ornaments and random artwork, The Cocktail Lounge is definitely the kind of cosy, fascinating place you don't want to leave. You may decide to take up residence on one of the comfy sofas, or beautifully upholstered armchairs and enjoy a relaxing afternoon of tea and cakes. But before you know it, cocktail hour has arrived, so you may as well just stay put and sink a few Nettle Gimlets or Rhubarb Kir Royales. But why stop there, when you can then enjoy a carafe of wine with a few accompanying Supper Bowls. It really is that kind of place where time stands still, and curious cocktails are drunk. 

The bar resembles a kind of old apothecary with a cabinet of liquer and a selection of intriguing medicinal type bottles. The staff are all friendly and helpful, dressed in quirky attire with the barmen in trouser braces and bright neckerchiefs.

My dining companion and I were given a lovely pew with a perfect vantage point of the whole room, where we sat for several hours sampling various delights from the menu. We started with a 'Somerset Sour' and a 'Les Fleurs du Mal' cocktail with a few accompanying pieces of buttery homemade parmesan shortbread.

Dining at The Zetter Townhouse is very informal and relaxed, hence the menu comprises 'Small Eats' and 'Supper Bowls', very much instigating a sharing trend, which suits this place perfectly.  However, for those who prefer a more formal restaurant vibe, there is the equally fabulous modern French bistro, Bistrot Bruno Loubet a stone's throw away across the courtyard at The Zetter.

We had dinner in The Cocktail Lounge and the menu sounded so good, we practically ordered everything on it! Our sumptious feast included salt & pepper whitebait, pan-fried haloumi with lemon & chilli, watermelon with prawns, grilled vegetable dip, a charcuterie platter, broadbean risotto and a Vietnamese grilled squid salad. As if that wasn't enough, my friend was still peckish, so he had a slice of fruit cake. All completely delicious, apart from the haloumi which was drenched in overpowering lemon. And the prawn & melon dish was superb but a very mean, meagre portion and not worth £7.50. We also tried something called Dhukka which is essentially warm focaccia bread which you dip in olive oil and crushed nuts. Strangely tasty.

The Zetter Townhouse is right up my street and I liked it so much, I would actually quite like to live there! I wonder if they'd mind...  I had a thoroughly enjoyable stay and have already been back since for cocktails, the first of many visits I am sure. It has a cosy, magical atmosphere and is especially suited to for those umcoming dark, wintery nights. A big thank you to everyone at The Zetter Townhouse for your outstanding and warm hospitality.

Miss Immy was a guest of The Zetter Townhouse

49-50 St John's Square
London  EC1V 4JJ

Check website for room rates

Room reservations: 020 7324 4567
Cocktail Lounge: 020 7324 4545

86-88 Clerkenwell Road
London EC1M 5RJ


Anonymous said...

Great post - I can't wait to go and try it out!

Anonymous said...

Great post - I can't wait to go and try out the Zetter Townhouse!

chloe said...

Looks incredible, love the miniature cocktail potions in the fridge and the nibbles look fab!

Anonymous said...

What an incredible place, thanks for the thumbs up missimmy. It is like being in a time bubble

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