Georgian townhouse treat next to London’s Square Mile.
HIDDEN AMID A WARREN of tiny streets that was once home to London’s notorious rogues and roués (it takes its name from a gang of thieves who once ruled this area) The Rookery stands just a stone’s throw from The Square Mile, London’s financial epicentre.
This row of beautifully restored Georgian houses
at the end of a narrow Dickensian lane feels rather like a throwback to storybook London
. The 18th century meets the 21st with a splash of theatrical Gothic
as you step inside.
The Rookery echoes with Clerkenwell’s colourful history, and interiors in this enticing boutique hotel are brimming with period charm without being try-hard. Mellow wood panelling, flagstone floors, oil paintings, antiques and cosy open fires
in winter lend an at-home warmth that makes it feel more like a private club than a hotel
. The owners have filled the place with some of their own quirky artworks and antiques, and it all works a treat.
Hit the spot
In the midst of buzzy Clerkenwell, close to London’s Square Mile.
Bed down in a Deluxe room for the full Rookery charm: a huge period four-poster, silken drapes and a Victorian clawfoot bath.
Request a room at the back for the soundest sleep – Clerkenwell is big on nightlife.
Great nest to hide out in the City.
Bedrooms – all different – have a cosily romantic vibe
and are named after some of the people who have lived here during the last 250 years. Expect antique beds with ornate carved wooden headboards
, crisp linen sheets, beamed ceilings and windows adorned with silken drapes.
Bathrooms come with big Victorian roll-top baths
, generous bath-shower combos or walk-in showers
, with plenty of fluffy towels and Aveda toiletries. Technics include free wi-fi and flatscreen TVs
The Rookery’s luxurious Deluxe rooms go one better, with four-poster beds and a sitting area
. Then there’s the Rook’s Nest
. This swishy duplex suite at the top has what’s probably London’s most lavish bed
– a huge affair flanked by a quartet of dusky, lamp-bearing gilded cherubs. You’ll also find an original Edwardian bathing machine, and rooftop views to St Paul’s cathedral
from the top floor attic lounge.
Downstairs, there’s a well stocked honesty bar
in The Rookery’s cosy lounge, and a pocket-sized garden filled with urns of flowers – ideal for a glass of bubbly before heading out
. Witty decorative touches around the place include a trompe l’oeil painting of a young milkmaid peeking naughtily around a half-open door, and the fresco of smocked peasants – sly portraits of the owners – leading cows to market.
You’re in the happening heart of Clerkenwell here
, so request a room at the back to ensure the soundest slumbers. This fascinating quarter of London simply hums with history, and if you’ve done the West End, this is the place to soak up a new and fascinating slice of London away from the big tourist crowds. Cosseting staff will help ensure you love your stay.
Click on any picture to enlarge it and move through the gallery.
There’s no restaurant, and continental breakfast (an optional extra) is delivered to your room.
You are utterly spoilt for choice here, so there’s every excuse to be gluttons. Try Smith’s just around the corner for great steaks and plenty of buzz
from the after-work crowd. Vinoteca wine bar on St John Street is great and there’s the famous St John restaurant, famous for its offal-based dishes
, just around the corner. Other top choices include Club Gascon and Portal, less than a minute away.
For quick and simple eats, try Carluccio’s just on the other side of Smithfield market. A host of great gastro-pubs nearby include The Eagle on Farringdon Road.
Continental breakfast only – with a wealth of restaurants in the neighbourhood.
Under the duvet – breakfast is brought to your room.
See & Do
This part of London is heaving with historic interest and things to do.
From here you can walk to a galaxy of attractions in and around the City of London: the Millennium Bridge and Tate Modern gallery, Tower Bridge, Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, St Paul’s Cathedral and the Museum of London.
You’re also within easy reach of the Sir John Soames museum in Lincoln’s Inn, the Dickens museum in Bloomsbury, the Old Bailey and the Inns of Court. It’s easy to get to Docklands, and the West End is just a cab ride away.
There are some brilliant Sunday markets around here perfect for browsing. Brick Lane (Liverpool St tube) has a distinctly ethnic vibe while Spitalfields has a fabulous ragbag of stalls selling fashion, organic foods and home accessories. Smithfield meat market is on your doorstep (open weekdays) and is well worth a peep. There’s great antique trawling to be had at Camden Passage, in nearby Islington.
For the bigger glossy stores, take a look around Broadgate (the retail complex by Liverpool St station) or Bankside, on the Thames near London Bridge. And if you’re hunting for that very special rock, head for Hatton Garden, London’s diamond mecca.
Old atmospheric pubs in the neighbourhood include the Jerusalem Tavern, the famous Fox & Anchor at Smithfield market (join the market traders here for a cooked breakfast) and the Coach & Horses. For more cultural diversions, you’re within easy reach of Sadler’s Wells theatre and the Barbican concert halls.
It’s not crooks and ladies of the night that frequent the streets of Clerkenwell these days, but big City spenders and clubbers. Fabric, one of London’s top clubs, is a street away. You’ll find multiple rooms for different styles and a regular line up of top DJs taking to the decks. Lots more clubbing can be had in nearby Hoxton and Shoreditch.
Assorted arts events – both free and ticketed – take to both stage and streets for the City of London festival.
The Lord Mayor’s procession winds through 800 years of London history, followed by fireworks on the Thames.
The Motor Show and the Boat Show are just two of the blockbusters staged at the ExCel centre in Docklands.
Peter’s Lane, Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6DS
Parking around here is expensive (available nearby for GBP 1 per hour), but you won’t need a car.
Mainline: King’s Cross Liverpool Street
Underground: Farringdon (100 yards) on the District/Circle lines.
Approx GBP 55 from Heathrow.
London Heathrow – 18 miles
Rooms and suites
30 rooms, 3 suites
Rooms come with antiques and ornately carved beds, while bathrooms have original Victorian fittings. You’ll find Aveda bathroom smellies, wi-fi, air con, LCD television, minibar and safe.
Deluxe rooms have huge four-posters, sofas, silken drapes and DVD players. Many have clawfoot baths and shower heads the size of dinner plates.
GBP 210 – 595 + VAT
Open all year
Minimum night stay?
Continental breakfast (charged) is served in your room until 10.30am.
Available 24 hours a day.
Welcome. Children under 12 can stay free of charge in their parents’ room.
Guide dogs only.
Yes – all rooms.
English, Polish, Spanish and Italian
Matthew Hearne – general manager