The Zetter Townhouse Clerkenwell

Bars and pubs Clerkenwell
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(22 user reviews)
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The eccentrically decked-out Georgian residence of a fictional great aunt – but with room service, Egyptian cotton sheets and killer cocktails.

Just so you know, you’re not staying in a hotel when you stay at Clerkenwell’s Zetter Townhouse. Instead you’re lodging at the home of your beloved, slightly dotty Great Aunt Wilhelmina – 200 years ago. She travels the world picking up souvenirs: taxidermy, Oriental rugs and tinctures in dark brown bottles to display throughout her 13-bedroom Clerkenwell residence.

When you walk in, the focal point is not a check-in desk. It’s a big apothecary-style counter, full of homemade cordials and infusions. This is Great Aunt Wilhelmina’s front room, and she likes to entertain. A member of her staff hands you a sweet gin cocktail – The Flintlock –  with a bang. Literally: a small explosion on the side of the glass complements the gunpowder tea tincture in it (she’s got molecular drinks scene don Tony Conigliaro on board to design the cocktail menu).

A short walk from central London, The Zetter Townhouse is a local hotspot for its Cocktail Lounge alone – half its clientele are locals. Walls are a deep, rich red that’s mostly covered with a mishmash of paintings, from matronly portraits to British bulldogs stencilled over the Union Jack. Under a glass tabletop are relics of a British upbringing: OXO cubes, shells, 30cm rulers.

Upstairs, rooms are the definition of cosy, with extra blankets and hot water bottles in knitted covers on the Egyptian cotton sheets of four-poster beds. Décor is the same as downstairs, eclectic British through the decades, peppered with wit, and a tastefully executed pattern-clash (stripy carpet, Persian rug, fabrics William Morris would approve of). There are pre-mixed Zetter cocktails in the minibar, and some (pricey) East London Liquor Company spirits and mixing apparatus should you feel inspired.

Black-and-white tiled bathrooms, with huge, comfortable baths and REN products, including a little face mask and night cream, seal the deal. However, the wifi wasn’t powerful enough to enjoy the in-room TV streaming services (Netflix, iPlayer and the like) on our visit. Service is pretty immediate, though, and breakfasts are decent – you can go across the courtyard to the main part of The Zetter hotel and pay a bit extra for a cooked one, if the continental one in the Cocktail Lounge doesn’t cut the Marmite (yes, there’s Marmite). If you can make yourself get up from the seriously comfy marshmallow-like beds, that is.

Time Out tip
Being right by Smithfield meat market, Clerkenwell has some good eating for carnivores: not least the casual Michelin-starred nose-to-tail joint St John, serving up pheasant and trotter pie to follow entrées of crispy pig skin and dandelion. Then cosy up with an ale by the open fire at The Jerusalem Tavern for a proper old-feeling pub, with interiors dating back to the eighteenth century.

 

Venue name: The Zetter Townhouse Clerkenwell
Contact:
Address: 49-50 St John's Square
London
EC1V 4JJ
Opening hours: Open 7am-midnight Mon-Wed, Sun; 7am-1am Thur-Sat. Food served noon-2.30pm, 5-10.30pm Mon-Fri; 8am-3pm, 6-10pm Sat, Sun
Transport: Tube: Farringdon tube/rail
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Average User Rating

4.5 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:14
  • 4 star:7
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:1
LiveReviews|22
2 people listening
jd
Tastemaker

I love Clerkenwell and I love Zetter Townhouse.Clerkenwell is a part of town that’s quiet at the weekend - for a Londoner, it almost makes you feel like you’re on holiday! Zetter Townhouse sits on a square set back from Clerkenwell Road, along with other offerings such as Modern Pantry and the Artesian of Clerkenwell, as well as Zetter Hotel, the townhouse’s big sister, (there’s also a lovely little church courtyard if you want to swing in there!).

When you enter the Townhouse from the street you step straight into the enchanting lounge that’s open all day, and seems to take up most of the ground floor of the house.  It was a Saturday and I was both staying at the Zetter Townhouse (surprising the boyf!!), and hitting the cocktails in the evening.  Unfortunately check-in didn’t run to plan as they didn’t have my booking details (every checker-inner’s worst nightmare), and I had to wait around a fair while.  In the end, I reserved a table for drinks in the evening, and was on my way before seeing my room.  I thought it would have been a five star touch to slip me a complimentary drink when I returned in the evening, as recognition of my wait.

To give myself some praise ;-), a night at Zetter Townhouse was a great shout, it’s such a unique spot, and while it would be great for a catch-up with friends, it worked brilliantly as a date night.  It’s got an “old school, Victorian, boudoir vibes, lounge” feel about it, with great staff, that add to the occasion, and some really tasty and interesting cocktails, priced at £10.50.

The room I booked was the cheapest one (sssssh), but it had great character and I really enjoyed staying there; the shower, the bluetooth sound box, bold colours, striking design, AND, the fact we were staying in an old townhouse overlooking St John’s Square [cool emoji].

It’s a perfect spot for a refresher at any time of day, WILL BE BACK. X

Emma P

The most amazing bar in London, let alone Clerkenwell! Super cosy, exceptional drinks, lovely staff. 10/10 every time.

LoveLondon
Tastemaker

Step back into the Victorian era, when the technology allowed men to work less hours and have more time for leisure activities such as gambling, drinking and enjoying burlesque musicals. Plush velvets in rich colours and wonderfully attentive staff dressed appropriately. Drinks are delicious and served beautifully by attentive servers and bartenders. This place is cosy and wonderful with many interesting things to look at. Seatings are so comfortable you could easily spend the whole night there chatting and enjoying the atmosphere, and with drinks priced at £10.50- why not?

Leah
Tastemaker

Table service drinks with a cocktail menu that is kind of scary and kind of amazing at the same time! I recommend the koln martini for those that like a dry drink (wow it is dry) but a few things looked pretty intriguing...


The decor is cool too, especially the rather odd taxidermy tabby cat wearing a Victorian dress that has pride of place!

Hollibakes
Tastemaker

I utterly love this place. It's quirky old decor and fantastic tasting cocktails make it an absolute winner in my book. It's not the cheapest of places, but lovely for a post pay day treat! The bar staff are super helpful too if you don't know which of their delicious cocktails to go for.

Stefan S
Tastemaker

Eclectic decor matched with eclectic cocktails - Zetter is impressive without being overtly pretentious. This is helped by the friendly bar staff and range of cosy seating. A lot of love is taken in preparing their £9.50 house cocktails. But they are happy to take custom requests/variations, or make one of the "classics" for an extra pound.

Lisa S
moderator

A great bar for a date, or to take a visitor to London. The quirky decor makes you feel like you're stepping back in time. Interesting cocktails that you're very unlikely to have tried before. It's small so not ideal for big parties. And it's quiet enough to have a good old chat.

Dee
Tastemaker

Lovely Bar in Clerkenwell. I absolutely loved the Le Bun residency there and the Bloody Maries served with Burgers on them! Brilliant collar idea!

Isabelly
Tastemaker

In London it's pretty rare to find a cocktail for less than a tenner now so you might as well treat yourself to a decent one. Clerkenwell is never a place you naturally stumble through, but I almost prefer that it's a bit of an occasion to come here. The bar is so slick and the atmosphere is mega relaxed.  What's more, if you fancy treating yourself to one of the rooms, it's almost worth it to trophy one of their edgy do not disturb signs. 

Stefanie P

Definitely a place not to be missed at your London visit!
Open the door and enter a world of it's own style. The atmosphere, great cocktails and wonderful service makes you feel at home.
What a treat!

Paul M

Fantastically done interiors, great service and delicious drinks make this one of my favourite drinking spots

ELI
Staff Writer

You definitely need to book ahead if heading here after work. You can sometimes sneak in without a booking late in the evening. The cocktails here are excellent.

bext45
Tastemaker

I don't want to tell you about this place because it is such a gem. But that wouldn't be fair. If you're like me and you don't like parting with your hard earned cash on an average and generic cocktail then this is the place to experience real cocktail imagination. I would happily while away a winter evening trying each on the menu if I had the cash to do so. It's open late so a great place for 'one more' or somewhere to impress that first date.


bailey1988
Tastemaker

Quirky little venue, it feels like you’ve been transported to a different time when you step through the door. Try their delicious cocktails. The staff are so attentive... they provided us with a free welcome drink and when we informed them one of the cocktails wasn’t to our taste, they removed it from our bill which was a lovely gesture. This is the perfect place to spend a cold autumnal evening. I’m very excited about their sister hotel opening in Marylebone.

dwoodle
Staff WriterStaff Comp

Beautiful interior, chic and a lovely atmosphere. An extensive range of cocktails which hit the spot!

Charly Lester
moderatorStaff Writer

Great venue - chic but quirky.  Awesome list of cocktails, in a nice part of town, but really homely and not pretentious. Go to Dans Le Noir for dinner beforehand - it's a stone's throw away!


Charly Lester - Time Out Head of Dating

Mark S

Innovative list of cocktails and very attentive staff in homely surroundings. On a rainy Friday evening, what a gem to find. RIng ahead to book a table at peak times.

TheLadyD

The Zetter Townhouse and it's staff is nothing less than fantastic. I celebrated my 50th birthday there with 14 friends. From the first meeting with the events team to the last cocktail on the night the Zetter was impeccable. I chose the Games Room and it was the perfect choice! This little hotel is a true gem. If you are looking for a lovely, quirky, seriously stylish, gem of a venue with GREAT service, great food, and excellent wines and cocktails go here. I can't wait to go back for a cocktail and have my next party there.

Mark

Absolutely fantastic place for both pre evening drinks and nibbles or post dinner cocktails. The old fashioned is hand's down the best in london. The manager or host, wasn't quite sure which role she was assigned, is pretty rude and will not tolerate any additional people joining your group but the other staff are extremely hospitable that it kind of made me forget how awful she was. If you like a place with soul and extremely well made drinks then Zetter is the best place for it in london.

Patrick

Utterly fantastic bar, right up there with 69 Colebrooke Row, Purl and Hix. Excellent cocktails (especially the Bloody Mary) and an awesome spirits selection (try the Santa Teresa rum). The service was attentive and swift, the decor and ambience perfect for whiling way a few hours in a cosy setting. Nice crowd too, nowhere near as pretentious as ECC. Grazie a te Tony C.!