This hip boutique hotel was opened by restaurateurs Michael Benyan and Mark Sainsbury in 2004. It prides itself on its eco-credentials, which are based on the fact that it has its own well beneath the building that provides spring water for the hotel, as well as the use of sustainable timber and environmentally friendly bath products by Ren, among other things.
The hotel has two sister properties – the Zetter Townhouse Clerkenwell and the Zetter Townhouse Marylebone. (Don’t get them confused.) This spring, the Zetter hotel unveiled its three revamped rooftop suites, designed by creative collective 93ft. Another five rooms will be give facelifts towards the end of the year.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
The property occupies a converted 19th-century warehouse, but you wouldn’t know it walking into this five-floor, yellow-brick building on the corner of Clerkenwell Road. It has more of a residential feel, with original sash windows and cosy living areas. There is a small reception desk to the left of the doors as you come in – staff are very warm and friendly. There are lifts directly opposite and, to the right, is the lounge-bar and restaurant, up a couple of steps.
Interiors (by Precious McBane) are quirky and eclectic, with a mix of mid-century modern furnishings, retro lamps, floral upholstery, and splashes of colour from bedspreads and rugs in orange, blue, pink and green. Playful amenities include hot water bottles for winter, Marshall speakers, Penguin paperbacks and card games.
WHERE IS IT?
In Clerkenwell, in central London. The nearest Tube station is Farringdon, five minutes’ walk away.
Entry-level Guest rooms are small, at 16 sqm, but Superior rooms upwards are a little more spacious at 20 sqm to 32 sqm for a Rooftop Deluxe. Standard amenities include smart TVs, umbrellas, bath robes, rainshowers, Hypnos beds with Egyptian cotton sheets, air conditioning, work desks, free wifi, safes and hair dryers. Irons and ironing boards are available on request. Beyond this, most of the rooms have their own design feature, dimensions and moods.
I was staying in a new 35 sqm Rooftop Deluxe suite, which had oak floors and full-height windows across the far side and a glass door to the left that takes you on to an al fresco deck. There was a pink coffee table and a couch, some potted trees and views across the city. I came outside to do a bit of yoga in the morning (there aren’t any mats so I just used a towel), but the gaps and ridges of the decking were too uncomfortable on the hands and feet. It was a lovely place to relax with a book or catch up on work though.
I was pleased to find a Nespresso machine, as well as an imaginatively curated minibar with bottles of house-made pre-mixed cocktails. I tried the negroni, which was delicious, but the ice chips instead of ice cubes delivered by room service were disappointing. There was Harbour pilsner from Cornwall, Vita Coco coconut water, London Dry Gin made by the East London Liquor Company, wasabi peanuts and Tyrells vegetable crisps. Room service is 24 for all guests.
Apart from a very comfy king bed and large TV that pulled out of the wall so you could view it more easily, there was a small bathroom with a combined tub and shower with a curtain, black tiling and mist-free mirror. Outside in the corridor, a curved atrium looked down on the Zetter Club area far below.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS
With seats that spill out on to St John’s Square, I was happy to pop down for dinner at the on-site restaurant. It’s a buzzing place (especially on a warm evening) and seemed popular not just with hotel guests but neighbours.
One of the USPs the venue is most proud of is the fact that it serves wine (two reds and two whites) on tap, straight from the barrel. 125ml glasses start from £4.20, with countries represented being France, Italy and Spain. The 2015 Albarino, Rego do Sol from Rias Baixas, Spain, is described as “crisp and floral with ripe peach and citrus aromas”.
There are also premium wines available by the glass thanks to the Coravin preservation system whereby liquid can be extracted from the bottle without removing the cork. I’d recommend the £18-a-glass Condrieu Les Grandes Chaillees, 2015, Domaine du Monteillet from North Rhone, France. Two-for-one cocktails are available Monday-Wednesday between 6pm and 7pm.
Dinner is served 6pm to 10.30pm daily (until 10pm Sundays). There is a lovely selection of European dishes ranging from chilled gazpacho and smoked salmon on rye to start, to roast Cornish cod and dry-aged Hereford rib-eye for the main. Prices range between £5-£8.50, and £13.50-£22.50.
My companion and I ordered the salted, chargrilled Padron peppers and crisp, gooey-centred Emmenthal cheese croquettes, which added up to the best £8 anyone could hope to spend. Generous portions and extremely tasty. We then had the creamy, rich risotto of Jerusalem artichoke, toasted hazelnuts and truffle – again fantastic and great value for money.
Next time I go, I will try the sharing board of English cheese served with quince jelly, celery, grapes and water biscuits (£14). The chocolate mousse was outrageously decadent. Service was a little slow but it was quite busy. Staff were friendly and amenable (they brought our dessert up to our room).
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES
There are no dedicated meeting rooms but there is the Kitchen Table private-dining salon, which can accommodate 12 people. Drinks receptions can be held as nearby sister property the Zetter Townhouse Clerkenwell.
A partnership with coworking provider Central Working sees free events hosted at “Club Zetter” on a regular basis. The club is advertised as a “collaborative workspace” but in reality is a repurposing of the ground-floor restaurant/coffee lounge. It’s very light, though, and is a pleasant place to sit with a laptop.
There is no gym or pool but Brompton bikes can be borrowed for free. In-room massages can also be arranged.
Having a hotel room with access to a private outdoor terrace is a real bonus in central London. The redesigned suites are cool, and I loved the food and wine served at the restaurant. A great boutique property.
HOW MANY ROOMS? 59 rooms across seven categories – Guest, Superior, Deluxe, Deluxe Twin/King, Rooftop Studio, Rooftop Superior and Rooftop Deluxe.
HIGHLIGHTS The rooftop terraces, imaginatively stocked minibars, Nespresso machines and tasty food served al fresco at the street-level restaurant.
PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in a Rooftop Deluxe suite started from £450 in August. Entry-level rooms were £198.
CONTACT The Zetter hotel, St John’s Square, 86-88 Clerkenwell Road
London; tel +44 (0)20 7324 4444; thezetter.com