A novelty in London: You don’t have to sell your kids to stay here.
It’s not Soho. Nor is it Bloomsbury. It’s Clerkenwell and that Clerkenwell-thing is an important part of the trick. As it was written: ”Clerkenwell is what Shoreditch wants to be when it grows up.” Some would argue that this is not the most central part of London. True dat. That is also why a stay at the Zetter will not cost you an arm or a leg. Plus, you’d better ask yourself; where is central London? I realize this is something highly individual – despite going to London reasonably often, I haven’t been to Piccadilly Circus in ten years.
File under: Not spacious but smart.
The Zetter opened on the 15th of March 2004 and is the brainchild of restaurateurs Michael Benyan and Mark Sainsbury. They bought a Victorian, five-storey warehouse and turned it into a 59-bedroom hotel. The restaurant got a needed upgrade in 2010 and is now run by celebrated French chef Bruno Loubet, hence its new name, (UPDATE: what looks like lamb sausage tastes uplifting).
Rooms are by no means enormous but Precious Mc Bane cleverly designed shelves and storing around the bed. The bathroom comes with a monsoon shower and is very much not London-ish, (i.e. good). With no minibar in your room, Zetter has instead installed… (insert drum roll here) vending machines! Swipe your room key and you’ll get a small bottle of Champagne; gin along with tonic; whiskey and cola or just a packet of M&M’s. Stuff from the vending machine ends up on your bill. Espresso or latte from the machine next to it comes with no price tag at all. That helps you to appreciate your stay at the Zetter.
Are you nuts? How could you call that cheap?
The expensive consultants at Mercer publish numbers every year and London has a solid position in the top three, (although sometimes Moscow, Oslo or Tokyo will make your plastic scream louder). A breakfast in Chelsea will cost you way more than your airfare if you fly here with a no-frills airline. Consequently, finding an affordable hotel in London is not easy. Sure, you may find hotels in Bayswater that will cost you less per night, but then leaf thin plywood walls and exotic lifeforms inhabiting the shower curtain will be part of the bargain.
I’ll gladly recommend the Zetter to anybody who is on a budget. What’s cheap and what’s not is of course a highly individual thing, but if you on visit hear a strange noise at the front desk, it’s probably me happily humming a happy tune when happily signing the card slip at check-out, as I know I’m getting my money’s worth.
86-88 Clerkenwell Road
London, England EC1M 5RJ