Hotel Highlights

  • Edgy East London: a stroll from Smithfields, a hop from Hoxton
  • Cosy cocktail bar, Bruno Loubet's fine dining restaurant
  • Contemporary cool at affordable rates

Overview

The Zetter hotel in London’s hip Clerkenwell neighbourhood is a 1960s-design-lover’s dream city pad, filled with clever clashes of modern styles and mid-century-inspired furniture. In the lobby, the red-lit atrium and bright pink chandelier hint at what the rooms hold (okay, think shag carpets and neon colours). The restaurant has Bruno Loubet, a protégé of Raymond Blanc, at its helm, while the Zetter Townhouse, across the courtyard, is home to one of London's top cocktail bars.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking The Zetter with us:

Home-made chocolate truffles and the Zetter's 'Conti' breakfast, including a basket of artisan breads, pastries, butter, jam, a granola bar, tea or coffee and juice

Facilities

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Need To Know

Rooms

59, including seven rooftop studios.

Check–out

12 noon. Earliest check-in, 3pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $176.48 (£105), excluding tax at 20 per cent.

More details

Rates exclude breakfast (£12.50).

At the hotel

CD/DVD players, Zetter Radio, vending machines, high-speed Internet access, airport transfers and limo service; massages can be arranged.

Our favourite rooms

A rooftop studio: two are extra-spacious, with large private terraces and views of Sir Norman Foster’s skyscraper, the ‘Gherkin’, and St Paul’s Cathedral.

Packing tips

Your dancing shoes – superclub Fabric is a stumble away. No need to pack sleeping pills, as there is a special Insomnia Menu on room service.

Also

Hot-water bottles available (with hand-knitted covers). Pets are not allowed.

Children

Are welcome; childminding service available.

Food & Drink

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Hotel Restaurant

Bruno Loubet is the eponymous, Raymond-Blanc-trained chef behind the Zetter’s new eatery, Bistrot Bruno Loubet. Expect bold and beautiful bistro flavours – upside down emmental soufflé, beef daube Provençale – and some cheeky English-French fusion food (rice pudding pannacotta with marmalade and a full-English-style breakfast).

Hotel Bar

Part of the Zetter restaurant, with modern decor, it serves cocktails until 11pm. There are various other nooks and crannies with brightly coloured walls, low chairs and bold artwork – perfect for a relaxed cocktail or three.

Last orders

Food and drinks: 11pm.

Room service

24 hours, with restaurant menu until 11pm, when a snack menu starts.

Smith Insider

Dress code

The area is a magnet for architects and graphic designers: opt for clean, structural lines or bold prints and dark denim.

Top table

Ask for a table by the sweeping window – there's no shortage of those.

Local Guide

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Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Local restaurants

Head east for super-cheap Vietnamese on Kingsland Road; or cruise Brick Lane for curry (Café Naz is always reliable). Exmouth Market is a great lane of shops and eateries. We love Moro (+44 (0)20 7833 8336) for Spanish and North African tapas and grills; Exmouth Grill (+44 (0)20 7837 0009) where you tailor fish or meat dishes by choosing sauces. Medcalf (+44 (0)20 7833 3533) was a butcher’s, now a buzzing diner and drinkery. From foie gras to smoked eel, Club Gascon on West Smithfield (+44 (0)20 7796 0600) serves Michelin-starred French fare; St John on St John Street (+44 (0)20 7251 0848) puts colour in the cheeks of carnivores with earthy British cooking. A former working man’s café, the Quality Chop House on Farringdon Road (+44 (0)20 7837 5093) has hard benches but great food. Pub/club/ restaurant Smiths of Smithfields on Charterhouse Street (+44 (0)20 7251 7950) is ideal for brunch. Dine (+44 (0)20 7404 1818), recently opened off Chancery Lane, does paysan French with British produce, from former Roussillon chef-patron Thomas Han. A stroll or cab away, behind the Tea building in Shoreditch, is the incomparably romantic Les Trois Garcons, 1 Club Row (+44 (0)20 7613 1924), whose theatrical interior houses a really lovely Modern French restaurant.

Local bars

Match Bar on Clerkenwell Road (+44 (0)20 7250 4002) provides cocktails over the road from the hotel.

Local cafés

Pop along to Workshop Coffee (+44 (0)207 253 5754; www.workshopcoffee.com on Clerkenwell Road for coffee with a kick and amazing brunches (we love the toasted banana bread with espresso mascarpone).

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Off-centre Clerkenwell

The Zetter

86-88 Clerkenwell Road, London, EC1M 5RJ, United Kingdom

Planes

London Heathrow is technically only a 40-minute drive, but the inner-city traffic crossing eastwards may lengthen this slightly. Stansted is another option, within an hour of the hotel.

Trains

Overland trains across the UK leave from King's Cross, a mile and a half from the hotel, with St Pancras International next door for Eurostar escapes to the Continent.

Automobiles

There's easy access to several main roads. including the A1 and A10. The hotel is a 10-minute taxi ride from the West End.

Reviews

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Anonymous review

By Mr & Mrs Smith.

It’s with nostalgia that we wander up Clerkenwell Road towards the Zetter. Clerkenwell has come a long way since the Sixties. My father studied at the art school here, and his strongest memory of the area is of the all-pervading aroma from the local tobacco factory. Years later, I attended the same college, but by then all the factories were empty; by the time Mrs Smith attended, a decade...

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The Zetter

By Mr & Mrs Smith.

It’s with nostalgia that we wander up Clerkenwell Road towards the Zetter. Clerkenwell has come a long way since the Sixties. My father studied at the art school here, and his strongest memory of the area is of the all-pervading aroma from the local tobacco factory. Years later, I attended the same college, but by then all the factories were empty; by the time Mrs Smith attended, a decade later, Clerkenwell was firmly established as a thriving and fashionable London arrondissement – the cigarette fumes now emanating from the many bars and clubs.

We’ve had the Zetter described to us as an ‘urban inn’. It is housed in a Victorian warehouse building that blends in so well with its surroundings that it seems more likely to be a top-end design company. We almost pass right by, then, just as we’re trying to work out how to get in, a glass door glides open. We get the feeling we’ve been let into a secret lair rather than just an exclusive boutique hotel…

Having sworn I’d avoid using the much-abused word ‘cool’, what can I say? That’s exactly what the Zetter is. It’s a hotel that’s all about cutting-edge design, with the clever and ironic contrasts and clashes of modern styles that you’d expect from an establishment embodying London’s eastside renaissance. The flamboyant pink chandelier that greets you in the lobby is a statement of intent, and the bold thinking continues throughout the building. Just off the lobby is a small bar that smacks of Seventies Austrian chalet; wood panelling, floral chairs and cork stools make us smile.

The staff are genuinely warm and charming, and there’s an informality that we find immediately relaxing. But as we rise in the lift, Mrs Smith is most excited about the small touches. As a graphic designer, she appreciates the work of Precious McBane, a playful mix of the contemporary and the classic, used in our quirky key fob and the number on our door, a rooftop studio. (It’s well worth the extra to go high: not only do you get your own balcony, but also views over the London skyline.)

The room is modern and full of light, yet cosy. The fittings are minimal, but ornate flourishes include a Z logo embroidered on an orange blanket, and a delightfully absurd standard lamp. The bathroom has a nautical theme, with a porthole that looks out onto our olive tree on the balcony patio. And, fittingly for Clerkenwell, land of the digerati, the Zetter comes out tops on technology too; there’s nothing you can’t access from your TV, be it the internet, a library of 4,000 songs, or extensive local information. Who needs a butler when you’ve got this?

What’s so special about our room is that it feels like a dream studio apartment. Not folk who like everything to match, we love furnishings like this: surprising, original and a little cheeky. It’s the sort of place former geeks with something to prove should come to, and take some photos of themselves ‘at home’ to post on friendsreunited.com: the 21st-century equivalent of turning up to a school reunion in a flash motor – the thought of anyone belonging in these surrounds would give them insta-cred.

Our favourite touch, oddly, isn’t anything costly or showy; it’s actually the water. To our amazement, the handsome bottle that stands before us is full of aqua that’s been pumped from aquifers 1,500 feet below us. Sure, you wouldn’t expect EC1 to be giving the Swiss Alps a run for its H20, but before you wince at the thought of sipping from East End sewers, let us add that this is an area whose name is derived from the Clerks Well, which in centuries past was revered for its health-promoting qualities. Anyway, nutritious or not, London water has never tasted this good.

After such a salubrious start to our stay, we head off for a few aperitifs. On our way out we discover the hotel’s most striking piece of design – its back stairway. We’re overwhelmed by the raucous carpet and vivid walls: decoration at its boldest. The fact that the red gloss walls clash with Mrs Smith’s outfit is all that prevents us from taking a photo. Our first stop in the outside world is Exmouth Market – a strip of boutiques, bars and eateries that is, unusually for London, mainly alfresco.

As we walk past a few old haunts, memories of misspent afternoons flood back, and I can’t help keeping an eye out for one of my alcoholic lecturers. Convinced we spy one at the bar of an old boozer, we decide to have a butcher’s at Medcalf instead. (An appropriate rhyming-slang slip, as that’s exactly what it used to be.) It’s now a laid-back bar/restaurant, as is customary for this terrain.

Continuing on the meatery-turned-eatery theme (when you’re Eastside, part of each hip hang-out’s charm is often its previous incarnation, carnivorous or otherwise), we think it fitting to head to our namesake-for-the-night, Smiths of Smithfields, a former meat warehouse turned into four floors of restaurants and bars. It’s Saturday night, and Clerkenwell is livening up, though it’s not too heaving. (Local workers party hard on Friday nights, whereas the rest of the weekend is more relaxed.) After rum cocktails in the huge embrace of Smiths’ red-leather banquettes, we stroll back to the Zetter’s beautiful high-ceilinged restaurant, with its huge 180-degree curved windows overlooking a cobbled square.

After dinner we have the best intentions of reliving our student days on a nearby dancefloor (several clubs are within walking distance, and Hoxton is a brief cab ride east), but four courses of delicious Modern Italian have put paid to that, and our room with a view is too tempting. As we bemoan our bodies not being as young as they were, we return to find that the hue of the pink fluorescent light in our bedroom’s ceiling is wonderfully flattering, and feel sufficiently rejuvenated to trawl the TV for music to have a nightcap to (admittedly opting for less BPMs than we might once have done).

If we didn’t go to bed with ringing in our ears, we’re only too delighted to wake up to it; there aren’t many sounds in London more romantic than the bells of St Paul’s on a Sunday. Just as I comment what a unique memory our leisurely breakfast on the balcony will make, I notice Mrs Smith smuggling a rather-more-real souvenir into her bag. Once I’ve convinced her to not pinch the offbeat ashtray, we reluctantly head down to check out. Though we might be leaving the Zetter empty-handed, we don’t leave empty-headed. It has left a vibrant stamp on our consciousness of London. ‘Maybe it was something in the water,’ smiles Mrs Smith.

The Guestbook

Reviews of The Zetter from Smith members

Whenever you book a stay through us, we’ll invite you to comment when you get back. Read the Guestbook entries below to see what real-life Mr & Mrs Smiths have said about this hotel…

BlackSmith

Stayed on 9 Mar 2014

We loved

I liked the hotel bar cocktails.

Don’t expect

I would've liked a hairdrier in my room (a Standard room).

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 13 Dec 2013

We loved

I liked the very clean room, charming setup in the middle of the city, amazing restaurant food and service!!

Don’t expect

The obby noise can be overheard in the room; I couldn't rest until late at night.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 20 Oct 2013

We loved

Friendly, clean, location and service minded. Great for local pubs.

Don’t expect

The slow lifts and London weather could be better…

Rating: 7/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 26 Sep 2013

We loved

Service was very friendly and helpful. Good breakfast and free chocolates!

Don’t expect

Interior decoration is starting to look tired and I would say some of the fittings should be of a higher quality for the money being charged.

Rating: 5/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 21 Aug 2013

We loved

We were pleased that our superior room overlooked St John's Square at the back of the hotel; it was quiet and a provided a nice view. While the room was rather small, it was very clean and the bathroom was a good size. The reception staff was extremely friendly, cheerful and helpful when it came to providing directions and suggested walks. Each morning the 'Conti' breakfast enjoyed in the restaurant was exactly what we needed to kick-start the day. The Zetter rates highly on the style front – quirky objets d'art, pattern and colour abound, providing a constant reminder that you're in one of the trendiest cities in the world.

Don’t expect

We had just one nit to pick – the discovery that the bed was only a double was a major disappointment and source of discomfort for my husband, who is more than 6ft tall.

Rating: 10/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on 8 Mar 2013

We loved

The whole experience! The location was great, the staff friendly, the room was excellent. Loved the water! REN products in the bathroom. All good!

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 9 Feb 2013

We loved

We were looking for a relaxing upmarket weekend retreat and the Zetter delivered on every front. The welcome was warm, the room and service first rate and the food delicious. There are plenty of decent pubs and restaurants nearby or just relax and settle in at the quirky Zetter Townhouse cocktail bar. It was a thoroughly enjoyable stay and we'll definitely be back.

Rating: 10/10 stars

GoldSmith

Stayed on 6 Oct 2012

We loved

Everything... Going out of their way to find vintage Nyetimber, a vegetarian restaurant, a taxi in the rain...

Don’t expect

Nothing.

Rating: 10/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on 10 Jun 2012


We really enjoyed staying at The Zetter. The staff were excellent and friendly. The room was quite small but for a one night stay was very well equipped and adequate. A lot of thought had been put into the comfort of the guests and we thought the strawberries and chocolates in the room were a lovely touch. The dinner was of a very high standard and it was good to see that other diners as well as residents, both for dinner and breakfast, used the restaurant. Terry particularly liked the proximity close enough to Kings Cross Station to walk and of a good quality hotel. We will use it again and also recommend it to friends of course mentioning Mr Mrs Smith as the way to book etc.

Rating: 8/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on 4 Jun 2012


I can recommend this hotel – I only stayed for one night in London for a concert and didn't want to travel far afterwards. On arrival, check-in was seamless and reception staff were extremely friendly and chatty; from the moment we arrived, to check-out. I booked a deluxe double for hubby and myself and a deluxe twin for my adult children. Rooms were spacious and clean and I loved the decor and the iPod dock. Service in the bar was good and the atmosphere was relaxed, although it was close to midnight. The Smith members’ extra chocolates and strawberries were much appreciated; and I took advantage of the included full English breakfast the following morning. My 18-year-old daughter says this is the best hotel she has stayed in, and she's stayed in many four and five-star hotels around the world. The Zetter is definitely top of my list for London hotels.

Rating: 8/10 stars

GoldSmith

Stayed on 11 May 2012


Just along Farringdon Road is The Eagle, one of London's original gastropubs. It has a ‘no booking’ policy, so you're going to have to be there early or be patient, but it's still well worth a visit because the food is great; plus the real ales and good wine selection will pass the time as you wait for a table.

Rating: 8/10 stars

GoldSmith

Stayed on 11 May 2012


Loved this place. One of the nicest London hotels I've stayed in recently and the bistro is fantastic; however if you venture out just around the corner, opposite the new entrance to Farringdon station is a steak and seafood restaurant called Redhook (www.redhooklondon.com/), which is also excellent. If you follow them on twitter, via @redhooklondon, they regularly put out Twitter only, secret special offers and exclusive dishes, which can only be ordered by those who have read the tweet. You just mention a special word when ordering and that's it!

Rating: 8/10 stars