Had I been the sort of prodigal monarchist jet-setter with the desire to stay in London during the Royal Wedding, I know where I would have laid my Pimms-soaked, bunting draped cadaver. Forget the glitz of The Ritz; the pomp of The Dorchester or the Middleton-favoured opulence of The Goring: The Zetter Townhouse is my new hotel heartthrob.
Brought to us by the creators of Clerkenwell’s chronically cool Zetter hotel, just a hop, skip and a jump (or a drunken waddle, depending on your disposition) over the cobbles of St John’s Square – is one of London’s hottest new drinking and sleeping spots.
Unlike the slick contemporary vibe of the Zetter, on entering the Townhouse, which is set in a splendid Georgian mansion that previously languished as a lawyers, you’re greeted by a dizzying array of paintings, curiosities, rugs and antique accoutrements – the highlight of which is a taxidermied tabby cat in a sky blue dress (pictured below) and a stuffed kangaroo. I’d find it quite impossible not to love somewhere there gives such things pride of place near the mantel piece.
Like the shared abode of Miss Haversham, Vivienne Westwood, the bald guy from Crystal Maze and Uncle Monty, its stylings are a hotch-potch of British eccentricity. Carefully contrived clutter like candles, gramophones and vintage radios crowd the mismatched furniture, creating a cosy, splendid space in which to enjoy a drink and nibble.
And what drinks! The cocktail lounge is a partnership between The Zetter and the creators of the zeitgeisty cocktail den 69 Colebrooke Row: Tony Conigliaro and Camille Hobby Limon (whose pub the Charles Lamb in Angel itself held a cracking Royal Wedding street party on the big day).
House cocktails are a steal at £8.50 – I enjoyed the Twinkle, a restorative mixture of Perrier Jouet, Wyborowa and elderflower cordial and a les Fleur des Mals – a sense sharpener of rose vodka, lemon juice, with a hint of La Fontaine absinthe and whipped egg white. It’s a new rival for Danger of Death’s Ivy Gimlet – until now my favourite cocktail in London.
Snacks, sharing plates and plats du jour have been designed by Bruno Loubet, the French chef who stormed London with his bistro opening at the Zetter last year, after a hiatus down under. It’s perfect food to accompany drinks – think classics like daube of beef (a steal at £6.80); Vietnamese crab salad; charcuterie boards; pates; Bruno’s piccalilli and zucchini fritters. The only thing about this cracking hotel bar that I don’t think works is the music playlist, whose trite French accordion ditties seem somewhat incongruous.
Upstairs, 13 beautiful, individually designed bedrooms offer lucky residents the chance to crash out in style. Furniture is unique and antique, with colourfully upholstered chairs, golden goose headed lamps and elaborate lampshades. My favourite room (pictured below) featured an in-room bathtub with a golden porthole mirror, as well as a desk and chair, turquoise walls and crimson velvet curtains. It’s all very A Little Princess.
I also noticed that each room had its own tea making facilities – something that for some unknown reason most hotels seem to be misguidedly intent on fazing out, in favour of upselling room service. I don’t want to have to make a call and wait for some poor waiter to bring me a porcelain pot before I can get my caffeine fix. The folks at The Zetter seem to have realised how annoying that is.
And what’s more, if you find yourself feeling playful after a few of the expertly crafted cocktails (which the clued-up staff will talk you through with much zeal) take a wander downstairs, past the decoupaged walls to the games room, where you can plug your iPod into a dock and kick back with a game of ping pong. Perfect.