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|
49-50 St John's Square
|Opening hours:||SUNDAY TO WEDNESDAY: 7am - Midnight THURSDAY TO SATURDAY: 7am - 1am|
|Transport:||Tube: Farringdon tube/rail|
|Do you own this business?|
Average User Rating
4.4 / 5
- 5 star:14
- 4 star:8
- 3 star:2
- 2 star:0
- 1 star:1
The most amazing bar in London, let alone Clerkenwell! Super cosy, exceptional drinks, lovely staff. 10/10 every time.
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.
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!
Fantastically done interiors, great service and delicious drinks make this one of my favourite drinking spots
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.
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.
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.
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.!
Snap up exclusive discounts in London
Time Out's handpicked deals — hurry, they won't be around for long...