Thursday, 7 June 2012

The Zetter Townhouse, Clerkenwell, London

Unassuming and oh so chic 
Sunday 6pm
The taxi drops us at the discreet pale blue door of a grand double-fronted Georgian townhouse on quiet, cobbled St John’s Square in Clerkenwell.

From outside, nothing gives away that this is a hotel, but from the name elegantly engraved on the door we know we’re in the right place.

Through sash windows we see a candle-lit room packed with people talking animatedly; it looks like it could be a particularly fabulous private party. Fortunately, we’re invited!

Eccentric and holding no punches

The eccentrically-decorated room is unlike any hotel lobby we’ve ever seen.

Crammed with bric-a-brac, taxidermy and antiques, this is a very cool bar that doubles as a reception for the hotel above.

We’re greeted by the very chic duty manager and taken up in the horsehair-lined lift - we said the decor was eccentric - to the first floor.

Our room is the stunning Townhouse Apartment, and oh boy it’s a beauty.
At one end, an enormous bed is swathed in luxurious quilts and topped with masses of pillows while at the other there’s a lounge area with beautiful period furniture.
Our very own Lounge Area
There’s also a selection of our favourite magazines - it’s like they knew we were coming!
More of the same please!
In the middle of the room there’s a writing desk, and on that a handwritten welcome note and a plate of fresh fruit - just the kind of thoughtful personal touches we love. We kick our shoes off, climb onto our vast bed and feed each other strawberries for a while...
Pleasures come with the personal touch

Although we’re booked in for cocktails downstairs later, we decide to see what the mini-bar has to offer and it’s certainly stocked for enjoyment! As well as champagne, wine and spirits - at sensible prices  - there are classic cocktails mixed by the bar team and sealed in beautiful flasks. We call for a cocktail tray and within minutes we’ve got a shaker, glasses and ice and are ready to go. All that’s left to do is stir and serve.

My Negroni and Monsieur 2’s Martini are top-notch, and a table by one of the tall windows overlooking the square below is the perfect place to enjoy them.

Atmospheric and full of character

We head down to the bar and settle into the deep comfy couch that’s been reserved for us. We’re given the list of 12 house cocktails and informed that the bar staff - trained by world-renowned mixologist Tony Conigliaro no less - can rustle us up anything else we might fancy. We work our way through about half of the list, both especially loving a syrupy, rum-based Master At Arms.

Time for food. Everything on the menu, devised by legendary chef Bruno Loubet, sounds fantastic so we order a selection. Little merguez with chick peas, lemon-juice drenched griddled halloumi and earthy roasted vegetable dip with thin slices of toasted baguette prove perfect for soaking up the potent potions we’re drinking.

Beautiful bathroom, with plenty of REN treats

Back upstairs we uncork a bottle of wine and run ourselves a deep bubbly bath using the gorgeous REN products provided. The tap’s at the side, so no fighting over who gets which end either!

Finally freeing ourselves from the comfort of the tub, we wrap ourselves in fluffy robes and flop on the bed. Monsieur 2 spots that there’s an in-house DVD library at our disposal but let’s just say we decide to make our own entertainment instead...

Monday 7.40am
We’ve slept so well and so long that we’re up with the lark despite not having to be anywhere. I decide to fix us some coffee and not only do we have a Nespresso machine in the room, there’s also a milk frother for making perfect cappuccinos! Such a lovely start to the day.

The Zetter Hotel
Expecting breakfast to be served in the lounge, we find that we actually have to go across to the main Zetter Hotel for it. It’s no great hardship but it feels a little odd to be leaving ‘our’ Townhouse to eat! The decor isn't as homely and staff aren’t quite as friendly here either, but our full English breakfasts are still enjoyable. Breakfast devoured, we grab the day’s newspapers and head back to our room for a last couple of hours before check-out.

A cheeky cappuccino, a reviving drench shower and a last roll on that sumptuous bed and we’re - reluctantly - out the door. In our fantasy alternative existence - the one where we win the EuroMillions on a quintuple rollover week - we’d live in the country and maintain a grand London townhouse for entertaining when in the capital. Until that day comes, we’re very happy to make do with The Zetter Townhouse.

N: The Zetter Townhouse
T: 020 7324 4567
A: 49-50 St John's Square, London EC1V 4JJ
Our rating: 4.5 out of 5

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