Review of the Month: The Rookery in London’s Clerkenwell
What should I expect?
The Rookery is spread across three Georgian townhouses in the neighbourhood of Clerkenwell. Part of the attraction is that it feels very much like a personal discovery, lying discreet and unannounced down a cobbled lane, a short walk from Smithfield meat market. The impression continues beyond the hefty front door – you can imagine plotting some sort of scandal and intrigue here. Creaking corridors lead in several directions from the reception, ending up at a bedroom door (each named after a historical local character of general disrepute) or in one of the lounges. Every corner turned reveals an antique (writing bureaus, Regency chairs, occasional tables, Georgian busts and so on) or a piece of bespoke artwork. Worth seeking out is the bonnetted lady peeking out behind a painted curtain on the top floor.
What’s my room like?
The rooms follow Georgian styling, cocooning the guest from most reminders of 21st-century London. The overall mood is opulent, but not ostentatious, with big, ornate beds and sofas meant to be sunk into for an afternoon. For a particular treat, book into the Rook’s Nest, a two-storey apartment up on the top floors, with a super-king-size bed (guarded by cherubs) and in-room rolltop bath. There’s a dining room and lounge area on the second floor big enough to hold a substantial party and views over the rooftops to St Paul’s Cathedral.
What am I eating?
There’s no restaurant, but the likes of pot-roast chicken, mushroom risotto and posh sarnies can be ordered through room service. There’s a decent wine list too, with a number available by the glass. Tea and cake is served by the fire in one of the lounges at the weekends, with an honesty bar open 24/7. Breakfast is brought to your room on a tray – we can wholeheartedly vouch for the whopping bacon sandwich.
What’s in the neighbourhood?
Clerkenwell is a fast-homogenising part of London, with a slew of chains opening in recent years. There’s still plenty of individual character here though. Be sure to take a stroll round Smithfield meat market: you’ll want to rise at dawn on a weekday to see it in action (smithfieldmarket.com). We think Oriole Bar, beneath the market, serves the best and most imaginatively presented cocktails in London – try the Blood and Bone (oriolebar.com).
Good to know
There’s no lift, so ask for a ground-floor room if the stairs might be a problem. Some of the lower-level bedrooms suffer from a bit of late-night noise.
What’s the damage?
There are 33 rooms and suites at the Rookery. Club doubles start at £193 per night;the Rook’s Nest is from £516 (rookeryhotel.com).
The Rookery is a sister hotel to the fellow Georgian-built Hazlitt’s in London’s Soho