London’s Unknown East End & a Tour of the Zetter Hotel
Enriched with local London knowledge we walked to the Liverpool Street Station from where we caught the Tube back to the Zetter Hotel. Prior to going out for the evening I wanted to get a quick overview of the hotel and requested a tour of the facilities. Raquel Gallego, the Assistant Reception Manager, graciously volunteered her time and took us up to the top floor of this five story hotel. From this level, we were able to enjoy a look down the five-story atrium all the way to the bar on the ground floor.
Raquel Gallego from the Zetter Hotel shows us around
The Zetter Hotel is a converted Victorian-era warehouse that features 59 uniquely designed rooms of which no two rooms are the same. Rooms range from standard guest rooms to deluxe corner rooms, deluxe twin rooms as well as various categories of rooftop studios. We first went into a top floor studio that featured a queen size bed, a mini-bar and kettle as well as a so-called “Raindance shower” and bath. A large flat screen television with 15 satellite channels is available as well as an iPod docking Station. Internet access is complimentary, a feature that I, as a traveling journalist, always enjoy. 4000 music tracks are available free of charge to entertain the guests.
The cool staircase at the Zetter Hotel
Raquel showed me the rooftop balcony which featured two sitting areas, an ecologically friendly solar lamp, and a great view over London’s rooftops. Then we went to another room and checked out the most popular deluxe rooftop studio: room 503, a favourite destination for honeymooners. It features an oversize rooftop deck with a sitting area, two reclining chairs and a most gorgeous vista of some of London’s greatest landmarks: London’s business district highlighted by the unforgettable shape of the Gherkin, the dome of St. Paul’s Cathedral as well as the outline of the London Eye, London’s gigantic Ferris wheel. This is definitely a serene place of respite in the middle of the hustle and bustle of this busy metropolis.
Over a glass of lemon water, Raquel gave me more background about the Zetter and its surroundings. The water itself was actually from the hotel’s own 100 m deep well which provides a complimentary bottle of still and sparkling water to all hotel guests on a daily basis. The cold water was an excellent refreshment on an unusually warm spring day that featured temperatures in the mid 20s.
Looking right at the Gherkin and the Barbican from the Zetter’s rooftop studio
We briefly touched on the neighbourhood surrounding the Zetter Hotel: the Clerkenwell area has a great location between the City and the West End. The St. Pancras / King’s Cross tube stations are just one stop away, Liverpool Street Station is two stops away and the heart of London’s financial district, Bank Street, is also just two subway stops away. The neighbourhood itself is very popular with locals and savvy travelers alike as it teems with fashionable restaurants, bars, galleries and dance clubs. Some of the city’s best restaurants are located here.
Outside view of the Zetter Hotel
The Clerkenwell area itself has an interesting long-standing history. During the 17th century it was popular as a resort area that featured various spas, tea gardens and theatres. The Industrial Revolution caused the area to change and many breweries, distilleries and printing businesses located here. The post World-War II era brought with it a decline of these industries, but from the 1990s onwards gentrification efforts rejuvenated the area, and it has become a favourite residential neighbourhood for young professionals.
Cool sitting area inside one of the Zetter’s rooms
With its ground-floor restaurant and bar, the Zetter Hotel is a popular destination for locals and travelers alike, and many businesses take advantage of its meeting rooms and private dining facilities. Raquel added that because it is a small hotel, the staff is very close-knit and guests are treated like they are part of the family. Based on its style, comfort, quirky personality and its environmental achievements, the Zetter has been awarded Best Small Hotel at the Visit London Awards 2006.
The Zetter Hotel, a chic boutique hotel in a great location
Andrea and I have certainly been enjoying our time at the Zetter, and the location is unbeatable. Since we had to get ready for going out in the evening I thanked Raquel for showing us around this unique hotel. Minutes later we were back on the road to make our way out to Snaresbrook, a suburban area in North East London where we were planning to meet with local friends of Andrea’s. After an extremely hectic and action-packed day I enjoyed the ride in the subway and the relaxed evening that followed at Debbie’s house. Together with her family and friends, we spent a nice evening chatting, and over a selection of Indian food, we shared our impressions of these two whirlwind days in London.
Close to midnight we got back and dropped into bed exhausted, ready to rest up for the adventures that were yet to come on our third and last day in London.