Walking off the grungiest-looking bit of Shoreditch into the former Magistrates Court and Police Station in Old Street is probably not unlike walking through a wardrobe door to discover Narnia, so magical is the scene that awaits you at the five-star Shoreditch Courthouse hotel.
Mind you, the outside of John Dixon Butler’s imposing Edwardian civic building is not bad. The large granite and portland stone blocks are grand enough to suggest something special inside, but we’re still blown away by the masterpiece of decorative detailing beyond its doors, where leaded and glazed windows, gorgeous mosaics and fine wrought-iron work are beautifully lit by a coloured glazed dome.
Cleverly, the hotel’s design lets all this historical splendour do the hard work, situating the check-in desk to one side so that the wow effect of the lobby isn’t lost on arriving guests. Similarly, the dining room, set in the original wood panelled magistrates court, is another tucked-away architectural treat.
Rooms span modern and manly in the new block (connected to the old three-storey block via two walkways), where huge flat screen TVs with Sky (inc Premiere and Sports) are the sole bit of tech… unless you count the tub-facing TV in the bathroom, where an elegant grey colour scheme continues the manly theme from the bedroom. So we head back down to explore the enjoyable basement mini spa (pool, sauna and steam room) and gym, two-lane bowling alley (charged at £45 per hour per lane for guests), 180-seat cinema, and a bar that includes five of the original cells – turned into booths decorated with street art depictions of the likes of the Krays and Dick Turpin.
Time Out top tip
If you’re here on a weekday, book lunch at Margot Henderson’s brilliant Rochelle Canteen, a five minute walk away down Calvert Avenue (stop off at Leila’s Shop for gorgeous gourmet nibbles). For dinner, the Clove Club is bang opposite the hotel in the old Shoreditch Town Hall, and offers some of the most interesting food in the area.