Q: What is it? A: A charming place in Clerkenwell – often very sensible rates.
There’s a meat market nearby.
The Smithfield meat market is not a reason to stay in Clerkenwell. But it explains why you are telling your driver to take you to Cowcross Road. Well there, you need to find a tiny door in the narrow alleyway. Look out for the oval sign and ring the doorbell. These days, when hotel staff too often think that their Dido flip (insert hair style of choice here) is the main reason why guests are checking in, it’s quite refreshing to be greeted by two men that can best be described as… blokes. These blokes have a pun, a joke or a smart ass remark ready at all times. And they’re pleasant and helpful too.
Wooden beams, antique beds…
It’s Clerkenwell, so it’s not centrally located, it’s not pricey and it’s not fancy. But it is homey. The 33 rooms at the Rookery are named for characters from the Rookery’s lawless days, including criminals and prostitutes. I stayed in Joseph Smith on the ground floor. Let’s say that it’s not one of the most practical rooms I’ve stayed in… It feels quite small with the bed being almost as large as the room. It comes with plenty of odd angles and you need to go down a rather steep flight of stairs to find a closet. In fact you need to take the same route to get to the subterranean bathroom. Yes, it’s located one full floor beneath. Highly unpractical. I instantly liked it a lot.
Sorry, no restaurant.
I really wish it had, as I bet it would be a pleasant place for dining. Plus, the hotel offers only limited room service. But this is Clerkenwell. If you go out for a meal or a snack you’ll have plenty of good alternatives to choose from. Also, one of London’s better club venues, Fabric, famous for it’s massive sound system is located nearby. Saturdays are house nights and Craig Richards have played here for ages. If you’re not familiar with Clerkenwell, check it out on the map. See? Leicester Square isn’t exactly next door. That is also one reason why room rates at the Rookery are very humane, at least by London standards. And in my opinion the location itself might be a great idea for coming here. Stay in Clerkenwell and enjoy it!
And finally: What is a rookery?
The dictionary will tell you that it’s a colony of breeding animals but it was also used as a name for dense slum housing in nineteenth-century cities, and especially London. Pete Doherty was famously arrested here, after breaking the nose of a documentary filmmaker.
Nearest tube: Farringdon or Barbican stations.
12 Peter’s Lane, 6-8 Cowcross Street
Clerkenwell, London EC1M 6DS
ADDITIONAL HISTORIC NOTE:
The name of this room is Joseph Smith, who was a 15-year old boy who was caught stealing 3 lb of sausages. He had recently been flogged for stealing a handkerchief, so this time he was to feel the harsher side of the law and was transported for seven years. That meant Hobart, Tasmania (yes, think the Sydney-Hobart yacht race). He eventually became a farmer and brought up a family of seventeen children. as respectable Methodists in Geelong, Victoria.
It’s not just Doherty. The area is famous for being just outside the law. In Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, Clerkenwell Green is where Fagin and the Artful Dodger induct Oliver into pickpocketing amongst shoppers in the busy market once held there. And as it was put in an article: ”It’s still the place to catch sight of the occasional bit of villainy.”