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The Zetter Townhouse Clerkenwell

Hotels, Boutique hotels Clerkenwell
4 out of 5 stars
4 out of 5 stars
(26user reviews)
The Zetter Townhouse Clerkenwell
Addie Chinn

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

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.



Address: 49-50 St John's Square
Transport: Tube: Farringdon tube/rail
Opening hours: SUNDAY TO WEDNESDAY: 7am - Midnight THURSDAY TO SATURDAY: 7am - 1am
Do you own this business?

Users say (26)

4 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

4.4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:14
  • 4 star:8
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:1
1 person listening

A trip back in time walking into zetter townhouse you can imagine Lewis carol writing Alice in wonderland on the chesterfield sofa. It has a kitsch, vintage vibe about the place which is utterly charming and makes your welcome feel somewhat special. The cocktails are fantastic and although we didn't have the afternoon tea I wish we had of. We will definitely be heading back for that. Make the trip for a special occasion or just to enjoy some nice cocktails in clerkenwell.


I remember how exalted I felt when I first visited the lounge bar back when Zetter Townhouse just opened. Mixology was still a novelty, and having a well crafted cocktail in a boutique hotel setting followed by an excellent meal at Bistro Bruno Loubet (now closed) was an experience par excellence. Fast forward several years and behold how mighty have fallen. A totally underwhelming experience this time. You see, the whole of London cocktail scene has been evolving in the meantime. Being the first does not guarantee anything. In Lewis Carrol's words, “...we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that." So my Bootlace Old Fashioned was pleasant but just that, and my companion's G&T was uninspired and arrived with an utterly flat tonic. Now, at Zetter's they, apparently, prefer original Schweppes to the recently popular Fever Tree tonics and such like. They say, Schweppes delivers a more consistent fizz. Ironic then that my companion's Schweppes was as flat as a strap. For the sake of fairness, I must mention that the faulty tonic was promptly replaced, no questions asked.

They do have good things going, of course. Decor-wise, the bar has got plenty of ambience. You feel like walking around and staring at the stuffed animals (rejoice, fans of taxidermy!) and all the abundant curiosa. Pricing is another good news. The prices everywhere in Central London have gone up over the years. You can hardly find a cocktail under a tenner these days, so £10.5 a pop for a well made house cocktail feels like a bargain.

But there was one more 'but'. Some of the tables for two at the lounge look decidedly inconvenient (the stuff call them high tables. I would describe them as a pigeon perch). When we arrived (Tuesday at 6 pm) that's what we were offered, despite there being plenty of other tables available. We had to fight the host tooth and nail for a slightly bigger (potentially able to accommodate three) table and were in no demure terms made to promise solemnly to be reseated if a party of three needs it. As we were leaving an hour and a half later, anyone was yet to be needing either the table for three we were occupying or the pigeon perch. Don't get me wrong. I am reasonable and well aware of the bar practices when it comes to seating. But there's a right way to talk to customers and a not so right way.

So three stars this time. They really have to start working harder.


NB review below is for Zetter Marylebone (not clerkenwell)

Came here for afternoon tea on the weekend. The setting is absolutely lovely - warmly decorated and very cosy. However things didn't get off to a good start when our table wasn't ready for our 2pm booking... until 3pm! Luckily they had a couch and chairs available, so we sat and had a cocktail while we waited, but an hour late really is too much. Then we placed our order, however something went seriously wrong in the kitchen - only enough cakes for 6 people came out even though we were a party of 8, and people who requested an extra salmon instead of ham sandwich ended up with no salmon or ham! There didn't seem to be any logic to what was brought out. And it really took the staff too long to rectify the situation - it was after 4pm before any of us got a cup of tea! They did make up for it in the end, by giving us a complimentary bottle of champagne and not charging for 2 afternoon teas, which is why I'm still giving 3 stars (otherwise it would have been 2). I'm not sure that I would give them another go though, unless perhaps for something different like an evening drink.


Cocktails schm-ocktails - what's not to love? This place is the cutest! It is a hotel and a tres chic cocktail bar to with decor that's mysterious and intriguing but also comforting. It is table service, so wait for a table/service and the menu is full of cool sounding House Cocktails like Lime Blossom Fizz (my favourite) and the Bootlace Old Fashioned. I'm a sucker for a collage so rather enjoyed the vintage posters making rather fetching wallpaper.


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

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


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?


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!

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.


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.


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.


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


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. 

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

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.


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.


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.

Staff WriterStaff Comp

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

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

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.!

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