The Zetter Townhouse Clerkenwell

49-50 St John's Square

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What’s the draw?

A stay at The Zetter Townhouse does an incredible job of making you forget you’re staying in a hotel whatsoever. The Georgian townhouse cosplays as your kooky aunt’s gaff – a trinket-festooned 13-bedroom hotel (or should we say hometel) filled with tasselled lampshades, apothecary cabinets and curious antique furnishings. That said, a neat balance is struck between eccentricity and luxury, as each bedroom comes kitted out with waterfall showers, large sash windows, Roberts radios, large Hypnos beds and White Company toiletries.

The undeniable draw of the Zetter is this boutique allure and its handy Clerkenwell location, so it may come as a surprise that it has a handsome set of eco-credentials, too. For one, all the water used for heating, bathing and drinking comes from a 1500-foot-borehole beneath the property. In the bedrooms, keycard-powered master switches, air conditioning systems that detect open windows and LED lights ensure energy saving, while in the kitchen, almost 90% of the produce used for the seasonally inspired menus comes from the UK, capitalising on small-scale suppliers. These gestures form a part of The Zetter's eco-boutique identity – a hotel trying to drive a cultural shift in the industry where sustainability is often an afterthought.

The food and drink

Hotel bars and restaurants can be sterile, but there’s character at the core of The Zetter’s bar, affectionately named Wilhemina’s Lounge. Under the hand of design studio Russell Sage, no corner is left undressed, as it’s packed with a hotchpotch of velvet armchairs, hanging crockery, wall-mounted antlers, and glug jugs. The resident taxidermy is slightly reminiscent of one's sleep paralysis demons (we’re looking at you, stuffed cat in a nightgown), but thankfully, the cocktails and bar snacks are far less frightening.

The cocktails here pay homage to the area’s distilling heritage, take inspiration from old recipes for tinctures, bitters, cordials and herbal remedies, and are the main reason to visit Wilhemina’s. The 19th Century, a refreshing combination of cucumber eau de vie, yuzu distillate, fermented mint and early grey bitters, alongside the Lima, made from lime flower, tequila, mezcal and vetiver, are both excellent ways to start your night. While ending with the For Goodness Sake, a cocooning coup of coconut yoghurt rum, sake, sweet potato, sochu, ube, and miso cream is the only way to finish. To accompany the tipple is a concise but ever-enticing menu of bar snacks – grilled octopus with fennel and blood orange, crisp pork croquetas with sticky fig, ginger-punctuated gazpacho topped with seared tuna, and so on.

What’s nearby?

Clerkenwell is an undeniably cool part of London with a litany of good restaurants at your fingertips – St John, Luca, Bouchon Rachine, Moro and Quality Chop House, to name a few. It’s a rare part of London that remains unscathed by touristy claws while being conveniently close to the hipster jaunts of Shoreditch and theatres of the West End. If you don’t fancy hopping on the tube, you’re within walking distance of Exmouth Market, Spitalfields and the British Museum and just a bus ride from Columbia Road flower market.

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