The Zetter

Clerkenwell, London, United Kingdom Book from

Reviewed by Liz Simpson
Bright, breezy and popular with a hip crowd, this Victorian converted warehouse hotel makes an ideal city base
If this was your first visit to Clerkenwell, you’d struggle to believe that the area used to be pretty gritty, best known for Smithfields meat market and centre of the printing industry. But just as New York’s Meatpacking District became hip, Smithfields still stands proud and everything around it has regenerated. The Zetter, one of the city’s original boutique hotels, was a brave new opening back in 2004. Owners Mark Sainsbury and Michael Benyan took a bit of a punt, but their hotel was was one of the main reasons this neighbourhood became so cool. Now, you emerge from the Tube to weave through bustling streets, past bistros and boutiques, stylish gastro-pubs and chain coffee shops.

Inside The Zetter, décor is trendy but the ambiance is friendly, so it’s popular with foreigners including families, though best suited to couples. Rooms, some huge, some small, have a distinct boutique style: hot pink or lime detail against white linens and white walls, quirky Rob Ryan artwork, and lots of little luxuries. Guests can dine at Club Zetter and The Atrium, or stroll across the courtyard to the utterly fabulous Zetter Townhouse cocktail bar for pre-dinner sharpeners.


  • A pleasingly informal atmosphere, thanks to friendly but excellent staff
  • Little extras in the 59 rooms: Ren toiletries, robes and hot-water bottles; Nespresso coffee machines and milk frothers in the Rooftop rooms
  • A social wine bar, tasty bar snacks and breakfast was a feast
  • Its location: you’re an easy walk from St Paul’s, a bus ride from Hoxton and Brick Lane, and a short walk from the Tube. Or hire bikes from reception to spin all over London
  • The Rooftop rooms have amazing views over the London skyline from their balconies


    • The dinner situation changes periodically, from pop-up restaurant to tapas bar - you might want to check when enquiring
    • Some of the cheaper rooms are small and a bit dark. Fine for a sightseeing base, but if you’re here to relax, you’d want to upgrade
    • Breakfast costs extra
    • Bathrooms are bijou
    • No car park

Best time to go

Any time of year; London buzzes with life throughout. Spring/summer is amazing if the weather's good - everyone is full of joy, and parks, pubs and outdoor eateries teem with life. Autumn/winter is lovely as it rarely gets below freezing, and you can cosy up in your hotel room or down in the bar.

Our top tips

Head over the courtyard to sister hotel The Zetter Townhouse and spend a few hours in its fabulously quirky cocktail bar. Try the Flintock, which contains gunpowder tea tincture, so is delivered to your table with a bang and a bright flash of light!

Great for...

City Style
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 59
  • Breakfast only (+ walk to restaurants)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Bicycles Available
  • Free gym pass
  • Guidebooks to borrow


There are 59 rooms, spread over 4 floors. All are different, but each has a main colour pop - perhaps hot pink, neon orange, sunshine yellow or electric blue. Style is a mix of modern and vintage - Regency armchairs pimped up with vibrant fabrics, leather headboards, whimsical art, and lots of technology.

If you’re here to relax and spoil yourselves generally, book a Rooftop room. We stayed in a Rooftop Deluxe, and it was marvellous, with a terrace we could sit out on, sweeping views of the London skyline including The Gherkin, and loads of in-room space. The very comfy kingsize bed was dressed in crisp white linens, with a hot-pink throw matching a hot-water bottle and a shag rug on the parquet floor. There was a pot of pink orchids, a pile of Penguin books and a gorgeous Rob Ryan print on the wall. We requested an iron; it arrived in minutes, with a big smile. And we loved all the little extras: a Nespresso machine and separate milk frother, handfuls of Ren toiletries, thick robes to pad about in. It was quiet at night, not too hot (the downfall of many a hotel), and to be honest, we’d struggle to fault a thing. There are also Rooftop Studios and Rooftop Superiors, both gorgeous, just a bit smaller.

If you’re here to sightsee and simply want a London base, one of the smaller rooms will be fine. We really liked the Guest rooms, which maximise their space and still feel full of colour and comfort (though some are a little dark). The more expensive (non Rooftop) rooms offer more space and natural light, plus a desk (Superiors) and twin beds on request (Deluxes). Ceilings felt a little low in a couple, but all are lovely rooms in general.

The non-Rooftop rooms have a tea and coffee station on each floor.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Communal drinks facilities for other rooms
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Hot water bottle
  • Internet access
  • Ipod dock
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Nespressos in Rooftop rooms
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet


In the morning, the Atrium's floor-to-ceiling windows are flooded with light for breakfast. A cooked meal is worth splashing out on (we'd recommend the avocado, bacon and mozzarella bagel with a 'Morning Melon' smoothie), and if you're still hungry you can pay a bit extra and indulge in the enormous continental buffet (pastries, homemade granola, fresh juices etc).

This is also where you can get coffee and pastries throughout the morning, as well as light lunches such as salads and sandwiches. In the summer months eat alfresco on St John's courtyard.

Come evening, Club Zetter specialises in wines, craft beers and cocktails. It's probably not the place for a formal meal, but they do tapas-style small plates and tasty charcuterie and cheese boards.

If want a change of scene, we'd recommend Gaucho Smithfields for steak, The Peasant for gastro-pubbery, and tapas bar Morito in Exmouth Market (little sister to the famous Moro). Or you could head across the courtyard to the fabulous Zetter Townhouse for one of their eclectic concoctions; the Rose Gimlets are legendary.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu


  • Stroll around villagey Clerkenwell, a hotbed of creativity and cool, loft-style living. There are historic local sites (a 12th-century priory, former prisons and a Norman church) and loads of independent shops. Great pubs, too - The Eagle was London's original gastro-pub

  • Stroll to nearby Exmouth market for kooky boutiques and pie & mash cafés

  • Smithfields meat market is the last surviving wholesale market in central London and well worth a look. Trading hours are 4am til midday. Or have a steak dinner at Gaucho Smithfields

  • Hire a bike from reception and head over to Brick Lane for a world-class curry, arty Spittalfields market (daily) or to admire flowers at Columbia Road market (Sundays only). On the fringes, Hoxton is renowned for its cutting-edge vibe

  • Cycle or walk to beautiful St Paul's Cathedral

  • Watch world-class modern dance or classical ballet at Sadler's Wells

  • Night owls should try hip club Fabric, set in an old cold house of Smithfields. Cargo in Shoreditch, a quick cab ride away, is also brilliant

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Ballet
  • Cycling
  • Historical sites
  • Live music
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Shopping / markets


Children are welcome and stay for free in a baby cot or pay a small supplement for an extra bed in their parents' room. Or there are connecting rooms available.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

Superior rooms can fit a baby cot; the larger rooms can fit an extra bed.

Kid Friendly:

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