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Hotel Highlights

  • Prime Clerkenwell location, steps from the tube
  • Georgian styling: antiques, rich colours and oil paintings
  • Striking bathrooms with original features and witty touches

Overview

Like its Soho sister, Hazlitt’s, the Rookery hotel's bathrooms have more character than most hotels can hope to boast. In London's cool Clerkenwell neighborhood, this moody Georgian gem manages to capture both spirit and imagination with pristine period antiques, fine art paintings and rooms with unusual and quirky layouts. It’s also in a prime location near Smithfield Market, St Paul’s Cathedral and all of the area's trendy restaurants.

Smith Extra

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

For Club and Superior Double room bookings: a bottle of house wine; for Junior Suites and Suite reservations, a bottle of prosecco

Latest deals

Exclusive rates, packages and special offers at The Rookery

15% off stays of three nights or more 15% off stays of three nights or more

Facilities

View Gallery
The Rookery Hotel - London - United Kingdom

Need To Know

Rooms

33, including three suites.

Check–out

11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $211.49 (£146), excluding tax at 20 per cent.

At the hotel

Free WiFi and a stash of DVDs for guests to borrow. In rooms: flatscreen TV and minibar (superior rooms and higher come with a DVD player and iPod dock).

Our favourite rooms

Mary Lane (a Superior Double) is set in the eaves, and has a low, beamed ceiling and a ruby-red complexion. Mary was a local servant girl who made good by marrying a diamond merchant; there’s even a portrait of her hanging by the glossy oak bed. Rook’s Nest has all the theatrics of a Poirot set: an ornately carved bed with black cherubs at its foot and a gilded faux bamboo frame; an Edwardian bathing machine on a raised plinth in one corner; a ceiling that moves at the touch of a button to reveal the spire above. There's no lift, so some rooms (such as the penthouse Rook's Nest) aren't ideal if you have trouble climbing stairs.

Packing tips

Remember geek specs and digital-print attire to blend in with the area’s glut of architects and graphic designers, and cat treats for Lady Grey (the resident feline).

Children

Little Smiths are welcome; cribs (free) for babies and extra beds (free for under-12s; £30 for older children) are provided.

Food and drink

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The Rookery Hotel - London - United Kingdom

Hotel Restaurant

There’s no restaurant, but you won’t feel the lack, given the wealth of dining options on your doorstep, and the hotel has a stash of takeaway menus. Breakfast is brought to guests’ rooms and spans pastries, cereal, granola, porridge and bacon sandwiches.

Hotel Bar

There’s a spirit-stocked honesty bar tucked away in a cosy corner of the Conservatory.

Last orders

Breakfast is served from 7am until 10am.

Room service

Staff can rustle up items from a small but discerning menu. In keeping with the rest of the hotel, in-room offerings have a traditional British bent: ham and mustard baguettes, cheese and chutney, and pie and mash.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Avoid anachronisms with a Georgian flourish or two: backdate your outfit with a corset, cravat, ruffles or a waistcoat.

Local Guide

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The Rookery Hotel - London - United Kingdom
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Worth getting out of bed for

Explore the two-mile Clerkenwell Historic Trail; admire the mediaeval priory of St John, the nunnery of St Mary, Farringdon Road (which lies above Old Fleet River) and St. John Street, which was once the ancient drovers' route down to Smithfield Market. Speaking of which, Smithfield, or London Central Markets, has been the site of a livestock market for over 800 years. Navigate the walk yourself, or join a guided tour. Hop on the bus to Spitalfields Market and trawl the stalls: Thursdays are dedicated to antiques and vintage; Fridays are art- and fashion-focused; on weekends, it’s a mixed bag (no stalls on Saturday). Browse the exhibitions at Rainbird Fine Art gallery (+44 (0)20 7608 3333) at 114 Clerkenwell Road.

Local restaurants

Fergus Henderson’s temple to nose-to-tail eating, St John Bar & Restaurant (+44 (0)20 3301 8069), is set in a former smokehouse just around the corner from Spitalfield’s market at 26 St John Street. Headline dishes include bone marrow on toast, lamb tongue salad, and chitterling chips. John Torode is famous for his TV appearances, but his London restaurant, Smiths of Smithfield (+44 (0)20 7251 7950), proves his culinary prowess. The three-floor building opposite the meat market houses a relaxed café-bar, elegant wine rooms serving home-made nibbles, a second-floor restaurant with a Mediterranean influence, and a top-floor dining room that celebrates rare-breed and organic British meats. Mark Hix heads up Hix Oyster & Chop House (+44 (0)20 7017 1930) at 36–37 Greenhill Rents, Cowcross Street. The building was once a sausage factory, then a fish restaurant; plenty of original features remain, including a marble and wooden oyster bar and the original wooden flooring and panelling. Don’t leave without sampling the eponymous shellfish, and don’t look too closely at the photos on the toilet door. Sample inventive British cuisine at Coach & Horses (+44 (0)20 7278 8990) at 26–28 Ray Street, Clerkenwell. Typical dishes include rabbit and pork terrine with medlar jelly and toast, roast mallard with red cabbage, and buttermilk pudding with elderberries and cinnamon doughnuts.

Local bars

Sip Portuguese wine and sample petiscos (Latin tapas) at Portal (+44 (0)20 7253 6950). The restaurant and wine bar are housed in a sleek glasshouse at 88 St John Street. Redhook (+44 (0)20 7065 6800) at 89 Turnmill Street has a cocktail and oyster bar, and serves up succulent seafood and steaks in its restaurant. Have a pint at Fox & Anchor (+44 (0)20 72 501300), a cosy pub at 115 Charterhouse Street; if you’re feeling hungry, nibble on Scotch eggs with curried mayonnaise or opt for a hearty main (typical offerings include rabbit and cider with thyme and bacon dumplings, and monkfish cheeks with cockles and mussels.)

Local cafés

Pop along to Workshop Coffee Co (+44 (0)20 7253 5754) on Clerkenwell Road for amazing coffee and even-more-amazing brunches (we love the huge Mexican-style corn fritters with spinach, grilled halloumi and poached eggs).

+ Enlarge
Clerkenwell’s gastronomic heart

The Rookery

12 Peter's Lane , Cowcross Street, London, EC1M 6DS, United Kingdom

Planes

London City airport (www.londoncityairport.com) is eight miles away, and runs regular flights to over 30 destinations, including Paris, New York, Edinburgh and Barcelona.

Trains

King's Cross St Pancras is less than two miles away, served by Virgin and First Capital Connect (www.nationalrail.co.uk). Farringdon tube station is just steps away (www.tfl.gov.uk).

Automobiles

With such great public transport connections (and bearing in mind the congestion charge), it makes no sense to bring a car; instead, live like the locals and zip around by bus, train or Tube.

Reviews

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The Rookery Hotel - London - United Kingdom
The Rookery
The Rookery 12 Peter's Lane Cowcross Street London EC1M 6DS London United Kingdom

Anonymous review

by , Wordsmith and picture taker

Rating: 10/10 stars
Standing alone in the pouring rain while trying to find the entrance wasn’t the most auspicious beginning to a hotel escape. Mr Smith promised he'd be punctual – he wasn't; my phone said the sun would shine – it didn’t. And, I couldn't figure out which door to go through, given that the hotel's made up of a row of historic homes. Suddenly, one flings open an…
Read more

The Rookery

Anonymous review by Rachel Juarez-Carr, Wordsmith and picture taker

Standing alone in the pouring rain while trying to find the entrance wasn’t the most auspicious beginning to a hotel escape. Mr Smith promised he'd be punctual – he wasn't; my phone said the sun would shine – it didn’t. And, I couldn't figure out which door to go through, given that the hotel's made up of a row of historic homes. Suddenly, one flings open and a welcoming blonde ushered me in to the dark-wood corridor.

A thousand things begged to be admired – paintings, books, a cat slinking around – and it was so warm and cosy that I was almost glad to have been caught in the rain first. The friendly pair checking me in gushed about how lovely my suite was with genuine glee, and 30 seconds later I was bounding up the stairs to the Rook’s Nest, my two-storey home for the night.

Back in the 18th century, were you to bed down in a rookery, you wouldn’t be sure to wake up. If you did, you’d most likely be minus your purse. For a ‘rookery’ or ‘stew’ was a city slum, its cramped tenements teeming with prowlers. Now, a night at the Rookery – that’s another story. Set in Clerkenwell – itself a former stew – the hotel is inspired by Georgian London. Rooms are named after some of EC1’s ribald characters of yore: Dr Dodd was a disgraced preacher; Jack Ketch an incompetent executioner; Sally Salisbury a prostitute hanged for murder. Guests can savour a potted account of these long-gone locals when they stay, and some rooms are decorated with original paintings of their former inhabitants.

To my not-so-nefarious Mr Smith, who was by now hot on my heels. A Californian, he finds London exotic even at its most pedestrian. Saucer eyes surveyed the Rook’s Nest, making his face worth immortalising in oils for a portrait befitting for the hotel’s motley collection. ‘Oh, most hotels in London are like this’, I fibbed, feigning indifference. Then he found a button that slides the centre of the ceiling back to reveal a spire stretching upwards. My gasp rather rumbled that perhaps this place is anything but your usual city stay.

We sprinted up our staircase – I love hotel suites with stairs – to find our living room with its antique desk, orchid-adorned coffee table, green leather bucket chairs and books stacked everywhere. Views of St Paul’s dome definitely outdo the one I have at home of my neighbour’s shed, and they sure impressed my Angeleno guest.

A ‘bathing machine’ downstairs was the next twist in our tale: if a black-and-white rolltop bath in the bedroom isn’t exciting enough, the Edwardian tub’s punctured-metal contraption showers you from all angles. Hilarious, particularly when you’re three inches from a life-size statue of a washing maiden clutching a cloth to her bosom. Half drowned, thoroughly amused, we next raided our mini-bars: he lounged on the gold-covered bed with Belgian chocolate–covered raisins and I munched my way through spiced peanuts one-handed while drying my hair.

Cedar Creek: A Tale of Canadian Life, one of the zillion assorted titles scattered around, proved remarkably engrossing for Mr Smith. He finally looked up from the peeling-cover hardback book to find me cross-legged in a towel on the floor photographing an anatomically correct whip-wielding cherub.

Tempting as it was to stay in, we made it downstairs to the Conservatory. We hadn’t discussed it, but I’m pretty sure by this point we were both pretending the Rookery was our house. The honesty bar did nothing to dispel our folie à deux: Mr Smith lounged on a settee contentedly admiring the green paisley curtains, while I played the dutiful Mrs and poured us some experimental cocktails. The Rookery doesn’t have a restaurant – but who cares when you have St John’s, Moro and Modern Pantry just around the corner? We dined a minute away at Vinoteca, followed by cocktails in the Zetter Townhouse’s lounge.

Drenched again, it was late when we made it back to our new home: we tiptoed through the corridors, giggling at the eccentric characters such as the beard-stroking man contemplating his chessboard. Back in our sumptuous suite, we dragged all three sets of heavy gold curtains closed and the true nature of the bedroom revealed itself in all its theatrical glory. By day, it’s a dark-walled womb; by night it’s an opulent stage set for performance: we opted for dramatic readings of books plucked at random from the shelves.

Hoarse from reading strange books in gin-fuelled silly voices, the huge bed beckoned. I don’t know if it was the cocktails, the bad acting or the rainy dash back from Clerkenwell, but once I’d bid goodnight to the gold-loin-cloth-clad blackamoors at the head of the four-poster, I’d barely mumbled ‘This bed is absurdly comfortable...’ before I’d fallen asleep.

Dawn’s light reflecting off the shiny bottoms of our cheery cherub bedmates was an eye-opening first sight of the day. Ordinarily I’m a massive fan of hotel black-out curtains, but in the Rook’s Nest I recommend leaving the curtains a tiny bit open: waking up in a really big room with sunlight sparkling on the myriad gilded surfaces is exciting. And, who wants to sleep until noon when you have booked breakfast in bed?

Our morning spread was delivered to our door precisely on time; I rashly volunteered to lug the weighty tray up to our lounge, doggedly determined to use every inch of our upstairs space even at the cost of a wrist-sprain. Perfectly executed bacon rolls took the edge off feeling forlorn about saying farewell to our characterful perch. But, as Mr Smith consoled, we’ll just have to return to these Dickensian digs to stay in the room that boasts a loo set in a wood-panelled confessional.
 

The Guestbook

{guestbook-intro}

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Extremely friendly and helpful staff! Beautiful townhouse setting.

Don’t expect

Modern up-to-date TVs – the entertainment system needs updating. The beds aren't king-size.

Rating: 6/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Really lovely hotel, would highly recommend, lovely staff, great room and an honesty bar!

Don’t expect

A restaurant, but we had a lovely breakfast in bed!

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The whole hotel. It was absolutely gorgeous, in a great area, and friendly helpful staff. Very comfortable and warm and delightful!

Don’t expect

All mod cons like super showers: this is an old building with beautiful period fixtures and fittings. 

Rating: 10/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Great location. Very friendly and helpful staff and a real feel of calm and serenity in the middle of London. A beautiful old building with tons of character.

Don’t expect

Much more than a bacon butty for breakfast.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The room, staff, the setting, good location.

Don’t expect

Power points were awkward, but staff supplied extension leads.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Amazing atmosphere; it's a very old building, but well maintained. The staff is exceptional, and there is a communal living area with a honesty bar. No room numbers: rooms all have a name of a person with their history.

Don’t expect

Very quiet hotel.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The ambiance of the hotel was great, and the staff was always very friendly! We had coffee at Workshop Coffee around the block. It was excellent!

Don’t expect

An elevator!

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Friendly staff, lovely old building, great location. Breakfast in the room is a treat.

Don’t expect

Dining room. 

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The hospitality of the lovely staff, so attentive and so welcoming thank you. Loved the old fashioned rooms and the history behind each one.

Don’t expect

Pomp and circumstance, just a lovely chilled out cosy hotel.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The friendly service and the quiet conservatory.

Don’t expect

Asmall Breakfast selection in the conservatory.

Rating: 8/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The decor and the peacefulness of the hotel, as well as the friendly and helpful welcome from the staff.

Don’t expect

Tea or coffee making facilities in the room.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Loved the decor - beautiful antiques and amazing beds. Staff very nice and helpful.

Don’t expect

Your typical hotel vibe - feels more like staying at an eccentric friend's place!

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Gorgeous old building, full of nooks and crannies and antique furniture. Plush bathroom, and even though it was in a busy location, my room was very quiet in the morning (very good for a lazy lie-in!).

Don’t expect

I didn't bother with the breakfast, as there are so many places nearby to eat.

Rating: 9/10 stars

GoldSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Sitting in The Conservatory reading a book and sampling beverages from the well stocked 'honour' bar (or a civilised pot of tea with Florentine biscuits in the morning).

Don’t expect

Modern, slick, luxe Smith here. A step back in time to cosy, old-world London.

Rating: 7/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The area. We have always been a big fan of Clerkenwell, and this is a stone's throw from the markets, the green and the best meat restaurant in London. Impromptu afternoon tea and cakes (the most delicious chic cake I've ever had). Honesty bar v relaxed and means it is not over-staffed. They made up a separate bed which was thoughtful. 

Don’t expect

A breakfast room, all food served in rooms. The only thing I would say (and most hotels get this wrong) is that they could offer rooms on low floors to families. Three flights of stairs with a five year old is a bit more of a drag, than without one.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

We loved it all. Covert not overt. Charming and not formulaic. Could not say anything less than splendid. 10/10 in all areas.

Don’t expect

Noise – it's as quiet as a country pub.

Rating: 10/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The location and ambience of the hotel room itself - the big bath was also a bonus too along with the complimentary Smith extra of a bottle of red wine!

Don’t expect

A cheap breakfast - there are plenty of other places to have a nice breakfast in the locality.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Very charming, great history, fascinating area of London we wouldn't usually stay in.

Don’t expect

Breakfast offering could've been better: only a couple of choices and both rather pricey.

Rating: 8/10 stars

GoldSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Loved the period decor and almost 'gentleman's club' feel of the hotel, complete with creaking floorboards (but the most soundproof double-glazing ever). Perfect for a London break.

Don’t expect

The hotel doesn't have a restaurant and so a limited, and in my opinion eye-wateringly expensive, breakfast is served in your room.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Stepping back in time when you ring the doorbell and walk in! Wonderful friendly service - nothing too much trouble.

Don’t expect

The layout of the conservatory furniture could be more inviting. It is a great space but you can feel a little uncomfortable when seated at one of the tables for two.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

Relaxed vibe, beautiful rooms.

Rating: 10/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The Rookery's great characterful building and rooms were so quiet considering it's a very short walk to Farringdon Smithfield market. The hotel had a lovely conservatory with an honesty bar and very friendly staff. We also thought the room service breakfast was excellent.

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The hotel was beautifully presented with lots of charm, the service was great and overall was very comfortable and quiet.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I loved the unusual decor of our room, the room service with breakfast in bed and the attentive service to anything we needed.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

The atmosphere was laid back and the lounge areas were great to unwind in. I loved the staff and the neighbourhood too.

Don’t expect

The difference between a room with a shower and a room with a bath tub should be clearer for those not from a British background, although a morning bath is a great way to relax at the start of the day.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I loved the excellent staff – very attentive. The Georgian decor was very appealing and stylish. I loved the honesty bar as well; it's great to see a service run on mutual trust. I enjoyed the huge breakfast!

Don’t expect

Ideally the price point would have been a bit cheaper for the room we were in.

Rating: 8/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on

We loved

I loved the decor of the room and the quiet position.

Don’t expect

I would like tea-making facilities in the rooms please!

Rating: 7/10 stars