A boutique time-warp in the depths of Clerkenwell, full of four-poster beds, antiques and one very proud house cat.
Wander down the alleyways of Clerkenwell and you'll eventually find The Rookery, its door so satisfyingly hidden we walked past it twice. Once inside, wood-panelled walls lead to an antique reception desk, where guests check in to this playful boutique hotel: a converted Georgian townhouse, heavy with local history and as far from luxury chain monotony as you can get.
It's impossible not to fall under The Rookery’s spell. Like the slinky house cat who winds around the furniture, the place feels elegant and full of secrets. Lady Grey purred proudly as she showed us around the nooks of the library and into the sitting room, with its decadent honesty bar. Antique armchairs slept around an open fire. Afternoon cakes appeared as if from nowhere. And the magic continued up into the warren-like, art-filled corridors of 33 individually decorated large bedrooms (plus a few hidden doors, I’m sure of it).
Our room was dominated by a magnificent four-poster bed and a huge clawfoot bath with brass fittings. I could have done without the twee lace curtains, but the overflowing bookshelves of leather-bound books were a great distraction. While the decor is dialled to eighteenth-century glamour, modernity is definitely not forgotten. Local ‘on trend’ brands stock the minibar, REN toiletries soothe weary time-travellers, and wifi bounces off the marble surfaces throughout the hotel.
There's no restaurant, but that’s no problem considering the location in one of London’s major foodie districts. Hix Oyster & Chop House and the original St Johns are just next door, and the Zetter Townhouse is close by for a great pre-dinner cocktail. A wonderful, if slightly modest, breakfast is included – though we’d suggest to eat it in your room and stay under The Rookery's spell just that little bit longer.
Time Out tip
The bedrooms are all named after characters from Clerkenwell’s past, so take inspiration and go on your own tour of the local history. Smithfield Market and St John’s Gate are right on the doorstep, but see if you can find the hidden Church of Saint Bartholomew the Great; it’s London’s oldest surviving church and has been in continuous use since 1143.
12 Peter's Lane
|Cross street:||Cowcross Street|
|Transport:||Tube: Farringdon tube/rail|
|Price:||Rates £276-£300 double|
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