Step through the discreet pale blue door of this discreet Georgian townhouse in one of the quieter streets that cross this fashionable part of the capital, and you find yourself walking into what appears to be the home of a wildly eccentric rich old relative, someone who’s collected an eclectic jumble of souvenirs and design styles from their globe-trotting and stuffed them all in here.
The Zetter Townhouse is the third and quirkiest member of the Zetter group of hotels. It’s colourful and fun, with a cocktail list to match.
Its 13 bedrooms (of course it’s 13) range from deluxe doubles rattling with knick-knacks to spacious suites that feel more like a charming pied-a-terre with their relaxed living areas, culminating in The Apartment with its antique furniture and spectacular view of the London skyline. All are indulgently furnished and decorated in rich colour schemes.
Clerkenwell itself, on the eastern side of the city centre, has lately become a centre of gastronomy boasting Michelin-starred restaurants, historic pubs and epicurean cafes, but after wandering its vibrant streets you might still want to take a weekend afternoon tea at the Townhouse with its imaginary family, Great Aunt Wilhelmina and Wicked Uncle Seymour – who might even tempt you into a chilled glass of Champagne.
Then it’s cocktails amid the gentle homely buzz in Wilhelmina’s Lounge, where you can browse a list that pays homage to the area’s distilling heritage. Old recipes for tinctures, bitters and herbal remedies have inspired the mixology and the bartender can serve you up some unique concoctions from Bee Pollen Rum Old Fashioned to Nettle Gimlet.
Designed to go with the drinks, a menu of small plates make for a light supper or perhaps an appetizer before you pick your direction and head out to discover what delights the surrounding byways of Clerkenwell have to offer.