2010-11 were a couple of vintage years for Mark Sainsbury and Michael Benyan and The Zetter hotel in Clerkenwell. First they opened a new restaurant, Bistrot Bruno Loubet, whose praises have been almost universally sung to high heaven by food critics; then they go and unveil a fab new sister hotel in The Zetter Townhouse.
Sitting just across St John’s Square in a couple of handsome Regency buildings, it would be easy to think that The Zetter Townhouse is little more than an annexe of the main hotel. But in look, feel and general ambience, they could hardly be more different. While The Zetter is sleek, cool and design-y, The Zetter Townhouse is quirky and whimsical (or like an ‘eccentric aunt’, as the hotel would have it). Most of all, though, it’s fun – Russell Sage’s design seems to channel Dickens, and there’s a definite Old Curiosity Shop feel to the public areas with their Indian rugs, battered leather sofas, assorted knickknacks, objets, general odds and sods… and a surprising amount of stuffed animals. There are fish mounted on the walls, a stag’s head and even, in one corner, a stuffed cat wearing a blue summer dress and brandishing a parasol.
The 13 rooms are only a little more subdued. Reached by narrow, colourfully carpeted corridors, each is entirely different from the last, and all are stuffed (rather too literally in some cases) with tasselled standard lamps, classic Art Deco Jazz Club armchairs and ornate, Asian-style dark wood headboards above the beds, and assorted booty from countless antique shop and reclamation yard raids. Bathrooms are roomy, black and white-tiled affairs full of REN goodies.
Back downstairs, there are two things that really ram home the individual – and fun-filled – ethos that underpins the place: the first is the bar, where mixologist supremo Tony Conigliaro knocks up amazing concoctions of Somerset cider brandy, rose vodka and gooseberry, elderflower and nettle cordials; the second is a ping-pong table. Great cocktails and table tennis – what more could you ask for?
- The Clerkenwell location
- The wonderfully eccentric interiors
- The sense of fun that runs throughout the place
- Anything from Tony Conigliario’s cocktail menu
- The free WiFi
- Some of the rooms have just one piece of furniture too many
Need to Know: The Zetter Townhouse
Number of rooms: 13
Check-in/check-out times: 3pm and 12noon
Room service: Yes
Swimming pool: No
Dogs welcome: No
Eating and drinking: The bar is run by master mixologist Tony Conigliaro and Camille Hobby Limon (of 69 Colebrooke Row fame) and serves some fabulous cocktails derived from traditional recipes and ingredients along with a selection of light snacks.
Getting there: The nearest tube, Farringdon, is only about five minutes’ walk away. Kings Cross and Liverpool Street are a 5-10 minute cab ride from the hotel.