“An imaginatively restored trio of Georgian buildings, just north of The City, with antique-furnished, wood-panelled bedrooms”
Spread across 3 townhouses and 4 storeys, the 33 bedrooms - no two of them alike - are beautifully conceived, showing layer upon layer of history and a phenomenal attention to detail. There's a judicious sprinkling of antiques - carved oak bedheads, green leather writing desks, fine rugs and prints, all in late C17th-early C18th style - coupled with wood panelling and rich Georgian colours from Farrow & Ball and John Oliver: dark plum, duck egg green, Etruscan red, clotted cream. Expect silk curtains, damask covered sofas, hardback books, flattering lighting and the odd bust or stone fireplace. But it's not overdone, and the overall effect is of a home rather than a museum, comfy rather than formal.
Mattresses are thick, pillows plump, and the Egyptian cotton linen felt divine to slide into. All bathrooms feature restored plumbing of brass, copper and nickel, and roll top Victorian-style baths. Only two rooms have showers.
The three single rooms actually hold standard double beds but are the smallest in floor space. Standard Club double rooms have queensize beds - Edward Cave has striking church furniture, while Henry Carey, set at the junction of one house with the new build, has windows to two sides.
The 10 Superior rooms are larger again and distinguished by the addition of DVD players. Romantic Mary Lane on the top floor has a vaulted, beamed ceiling, a Gothic-style carved bed and a vast bathtub big enough for two.
The two Junior Suites on the ground floor have distinct living areas and four-poster bedrooms with larger, more extravagant bathrooms. Sir Walter de Manny has a separate anteroom as well, while the bathroom is ingeniously concealed downstairs in the cellar with a faux Georgian window; Theophilus is one large room with a green leather writing desk and an amazing copper bath.
The open-plan Rook's Nest suite, housed in the new section over two floors and with windows to three sides, has a sumptuous kingsize bed cornered by four blackamoors, opposite a fabulous Victorian bathing machine. Its upper level has a retractable crow's nest, porthole windows and a writing desk underneath the panelled eaves.
There's no restaurant at The Rookery, nor a breakfast room, so before retiring be sure to mark up your choices and serving time (between 7 and 11am) and hang it on your door knob.
The breakfast tray (not included in the room rate) holds home-made jam and marmalade, the Rookery Reveille (muesli with bananas and yoghurt) or the Continental (home-baked rolls and pastries), freshly squeezed orange juice, as well a choice of tea, herbal infusions, coffee or hot chocolate.
A simple room service menu - fresh ravioli filled with spinach and ricotta, or wild mushroom stroganoff with rice - is available from noon until 10.30pm, while pizza and smoked salmon sandwiches are available all day. You can also get bar drinks. We sank into the conservatory's comfy sofas with pre-prandials by the fireplace; in summer you can slip outside into the little patio garden.
For dinner, it's no hardship to have to eat out: Clerkenwell is a gourmet ghetto with cuisines of every stripe. Club Gascon, just across Smithfield Market, is Michelin-starred; Portal and influential St John, on St John Street round the corner, are both justly popular - the latter famous worldwide for its 'nose-to-tail eating'. We've heard good things about the conveniently located Hix Oyster & Chop House, which is just along the road. Bleeding Heart is across Farringdon Road, Moro up the road offers superb Spanish/Moroccan cuisine, while Smiths, almost next door, does a roaring trade in everything from brunch burgers to fine dining.
If you want a light lunch, there are plenty of sandwich bars and delis hereabouts. London's Italian quarter is adjacent, as is the original Jewish enclave; both have left their gastronomic imprint on the area.
Children are welcome; babysitting cots and rollaway beds can be provided on request. There are two rooms on two floors which both have lobby doors that lock to provide a family space. Some superiors and deluxe rooms have sofabeds. Cots and rollaway beds are free for younger kids.
Cots Available, Extra Beds Available
Babysitting available by arrangement
Baby cots available on request
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking