Hotel Highlights

  • Prime Clerkenwell location, steps from the tube
  • Georgian styling: antiques, rich colours and oil paintings
  • Striking bathrooms with original features and witty touches

Overview

The Rookery hotel has more character in its bathrooms than some hotels have in their entirety; its charms include artful Georgian styling and a location in restaurant-rich EC2.

Smith Extra

Here's what you get for booking The Rookery with us:

For Club and Superior Double room bookings: a bottle of house wine; for Junior Suites and Suite reservations, a bottle of prosecco

Special offers

Exclusive rates, packages and special offers at The Rookery

10% off a two-night stay 15% off a three-night stay 20% off a four-night stay

Facilities

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The Rookery Hotel - London - United Kingdom

Need To Know

Rooms

33, including three suites.

Check–out

11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.

Rates

Double rooms from $230.88 (£138), excluding tax at 20 per cent.

At the hotel

Free WiFi and a stash of DVDs for guests to borrow. In rooms: flatscreen TV and minibar (superior rooms and higher come with a DVD player and iPod dock).

Our favourite rooms

Mary Lane (a Superior Double) is set in the eaves, and has a low, beamed ceiling and a ruby-red complexion. Mary was a local servant girl who made good by marrying a diamond merchant; there’s even a portrait of her hanging by the glossy oak bed. Rook’s Nest has all the theatrics of a Poirot set: an ornately carved bed with black cherubs at its foot and a gilded faux bamboo frame; an Edwardian bathing machine on a raised plinth in one corner; a ceiling that moves at the touch of a button to reveal the spire above. There's no lift, so some rooms (such as the penthouse Rook's Nest) aren't ideal if you have trouble climbing stairs.

Children

Little Smiths are welcome; cots (free) for babies and extra beds (free for 15-year olds; £30 for older teens) are provided.

Food & Drink

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The Rookery Hotel - London - United Kingdom

Hotel Restaurant

There’s no restaurant, but you won’t feel the lack, given the wealth of dining options on your doorstep, and the hotel has a stash of takeaway menus. Breakfast is brought to guests’ rooms and spans pastries, cereal, granola, porridge and bacon sandwiches.

Hotel Bar

There’s a spirit-stocked honesty bar tucked away in a cosy corner of the Conservatory.

Last orders

Breakfast is served from 7am until 10am.

Room service

Staff can rustle up items from a small but discerning menu. In keeping with the rest of the hotel, in-room offerings have a traditional British bent: ham and mustard baguettes, cheese and chutney, and pie and mash.

Smith Insider

Dress code

Avoid anachronisms with a Georgian flourish or two: backdate your outfit with a corset, cravat, ruffles or a waistcoat.

Local Guide

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The Rookery Hotel - London - United Kingdom
Eat, drink, see, do: local favourites and more…

Local restaurants

Fergus Henderson’s temple to nose-to-tail eating, St. John Bar & Restaurant (+44 (0)20 3301 8069; www.stjohnrestaurant.com), is set in a former smokehouse just around the corner from Spitalfield’s market at 26 St John Street. Headline dishes include bone marrow on toast, lamb tongue salad, and chitterling chips. John Torode is famous for his TV appearances, but his London restaurant, Smiths of Smithfield (+44 (0)207 251 7950; www.smithsofsmithfield.co.uk), proves his culinary prowess. The three-floor building opposite the meat market houses a relaxed café-bar, elegant wine rooms serving home-made nibbles, a second-floor restaurant with a Mediterranean influence, and a top-floor dining room that celebrates rare-breed and organic British meats. Mark Hix heads up Hix Oyster & Chop House (+44 (0)20 7017 1930) at 36-37 Greenhill Rents, Cowcross Street. The building was once a sausage factory, then a fish restaurant; plenty of original features remain, including a marble and wooden oyster bar and the original wooden flooring and panelling. Don’t leave without sampling the eponymous shellfish, and don’t look too closely at the photos on the toilet door. Sample inventive British cuisine at Coach & Horses (+44 (0)20 7278 8990) at 26–28 Ray Street, Clerkenwell. Typical dishes include rabbit and pork terrine with medlar jelly and toast, roast mallard with red cabbage, and buttermilk pudding with elderberries and cinnamon doughnuts.

Local bars

Sip Portuguese wine and sample petiscos (Latin tapas) at Portal (+44 (0)20 7253 6950; www.portalrestaurant.co.uk). The restaurant and wine bar are housed in a sleek glasshouse at 88 St John Street. Redhook (+44 (0)20 7065 6800; www.redhooklondon.com) at 89 Turnmill Street has a cocktail and oyster bar, and serves up succulent seafood and steaks in its restaurant. Have a pint at Fox & Anchor (+44 (0)20 72 501300; www.foxandanchor.com), a cosy pub at 115 Charterhouse Street; if you’re feeling hungry, nibble on Scotch eggs with curried mayonnaise or opt for a hearty main (typical offerings include rabbit and cider with thyme and bacon dumplings, and monkfish cheeks with cockles and mussels.)

Local cafés

Pop along to St Ali (+44 (0)207 253 5754; www.stali.co.uk) on Clerkenwell Road for coffee with a kick and amazing brunches (we love the huge Mexican-style corn fritters with spinach, grilled halloumi and poached eggs).

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Clerkenwell’s gastronomic heart

The Rookery

12 Peter's Lane , Cowcross Street, London, EC1M 6DS, United Kingdom

Planes

London City airport (www.londoncityairport.com) is eight miles away, and runs regular flights to over 30 destinations, including Paris, New York, Edinburgh and Barcelona.

Trains

King's Cross St Pancras is less than two miles away, served by Virgin and First Capital Connect (www.nationalrail.co.uk). Farringdon tube station is just steps away (www.tfl.gov.uk).

Automobiles

With such great public transport connections (and bearing in mind the congestion charge), it makes no sense to bring a car; instead, live like the locals and zip around by bus, train or Tube.

Reviews

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The Rookery Hotel - London - United Kingdom

Anonymous review

by Rachel Juarez-Carr , Wordsmith and picture taker

Standing alone in the pouring rain while trying to find the entrance wasn’t the most auspicious beginning to a hotel escape. Mr Smith promised he'd be punctual – he wasn't; my phone said the sun would shine – it didn’t. On the positive side, I had been primed that the Rookery is housed in a row of historic homes – it is – hence, my inability to decide which d...

Read more

The Rookery

Anonymous review by Rachel Juarez-Carr, Wordsmith and picture taker

Standing alone in the pouring rain while trying to find the entrance wasn’t the most auspicious beginning to a hotel escape. Mr Smith promised he'd be punctual – he wasn't; my phone said the sun would shine – it didn’t. On the positive side, I had been primed that the Rookery is housed in a row of historic homes – it is – hence, my inability to decide which door to use. Suddenly, one flings open and a welcoming blonde ushered me in to the dark-wood corridor.

A thousand things begged to be admired – paintings, books, a cat slinking around – and it was so warm and cosy that I was almost glad to have been caught in the rain first. The friendly pair checking me in gushed about how lovely my suite was with genuine glee, and 30 seconds later I was bounding up the stairs to the Rook’s Nest, my two-storey home for the night.

Back in the 18th century, were you to bed down in a rookery, you wouldn’t be sure to wake up. If you did, you’d most likely be minus your purse. For a ‘rookery’ or ‘stew’ was a city slum, its cramped tenements teeming with prowlers. Now, a night at the Rookery – that’s another story. Set in Clerkenwell – itself a former stew – the hotel is inspired by Georgian London. Rooms are named after some of EC1’s ribald characters of yore: Dr Dodd was a disgraced preacher; Jack Ketch an incompetent executioner; Sally Salisbury a prostitute hanged for murder. Guests can savour a potted account of these long-gone locals when they stay, and some rooms are decorated with original paintings of their former inhabitants.

To my not-so-nefarious Mr Smith, who was by now hot on my heels. A Californian, he finds London exotic even at its most pedestrian. Saucer eyes surveyed the Rook’s Nest, making his face worth immortalising in oils for a portrait befitting for the hotel’s motley collection. ‘Oh, most hotels in London are like this’, I fibbed, feigning indifference. Then he found a button that slides the centre of the ceiling back to reveal a spire stretching upwards. My gasp rather rumbled that perhaps this place is anything but your usual city stay.

We sprinted up our staircase – I love hotel suites with stairs – to find our living room with its antique desk, orchid-adorned coffee table, green leather bucket chairs and books stacked everywhere. Views of St Paul’s dome definitely outdo the one I have at home of my neighbour’s shed, and they sure impressed my Angeleno guest.

A ‘bathing machine’ downstairs was the next twist in our tale: if a black-and-white rolltop bath in the bedroom isn’t exciting enough, the Edwardian tub’s punctured-metal contraption showers you from all angles. Hilarious, particularly when you’re three inches from a life-size statue of a washing maiden clutching a cloth to her bosom. Half drowned, thoroughly amused, we next raided our mini-bars: he lounged on the gold-covered bed with Belgian chocolate–covered raisins and I munched my way through spiced peanuts one-handed while drying my hair.

Cedar Creek: A Tale of Canadian Life, one of the zillion assorted titles scattered around, proved remarkably engrossing for Mr Smith. He finally looked up from the peeling-cover hardback book to find me cross-legged in a towel on the floor photographing an anatomically correct whip-wielding cherub.

Tempting as it was to stay in, we made it downstairs to the Conservatory. We hadn’t discussed it, but I’m pretty sure by this point we were both pretending the Rookery was our house. The honesty bar did nothing to dispel our folie à deux: Mr Smith lounged on a settee contentedly admiring the green paisley curtains, while I played the dutiful Mrs and poured us some experimental cocktails. The Rookery doesn’t have a restaurant – but who cares when you have St John’s, Moro and Modern Pantry just around the corner? We dined a minute away at Vinoteca, followed by cocktails in the Zetter Townhouse’s lounge.

Drenched again, it was late when we made it back to our new home: we tiptoed through the corridors, giggling at the eccentric characters such as the beard-stroking man contemplating his chessboard. Back in our sumptuous suite, we dragged all three sets of heavy gold curtains closed and the true nature of the bedroom revealed itself in all its theatrical glory. By day, it’s a dark-walled womb; by night it’s an opulent stage set for performance: we opted for dramatic readings of books plucked at random from the shelves.

Hoarse from reading strange books in gin-fuelled silly voices, the huge bed beckoned. I don’t know if it was the cocktails, the bad acting or the rainy dash back from Clerkenwell, but once I’d bid goodnight to the gold-loin-cloth-clad blackamoors at the head of the four-poster, I’d barely mumbled ‘This bed is absurdly comfortable...’ before I’d fallen asleep.

Dawn’s light reflecting off the shiny bottoms of our cheery cherub bedmates was an eye-opening first sight of the day. Ordinarily I’m a massive fan of hotel black-out curtains, but in the Rook’s Nest I recommend leaving the curtains a tiny bit open: waking up in a really big room with sunlight sparkling on the myriad gilded surfaces is exciting. And, who wants to sleep until noon when you have booked breakfast in bed?

Our morning spread was delivered to our door precisely on time; I rashly volunteered to lug the weighty tray up to our lounge, doggedly determined to use every inch of our upstairs space even at the cost of a wrist-sprain. Perfectly executed bacon rolls took the edge off feeling forlorn about saying farewell to our characterful perch. But, as Mr Smith consoled, we’ll just have to return to these Dickensian digs to stay in the room that boasts a loo set in a wood-panelled confessional.

The Guestbook

Whenever you book a stay at a Smith hotel with us, we'll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what other Smith members had to say in The Rookery's Guestbook below.

 

SilverSmith

Stayed on 29 Mar 2014

We loved

I loved the decor of the room and the quiet position.

Don’t expect

I would like tea-making facilities in the rooms please!

Rating: 7/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 1 Feb 2014

We loved

The staff was so friendly and the room was comfortable.

Don’t expect

I'd prefer a shower rather than a bath.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 27 Nov 2013

We loved

I liked the quirkiness of it. We felt as if we were stepping into a Dickens novel each time we turned into the lane leading to the door. The staff was delightful – every one of them was ready to share time, a smile and a good word with us.

Don’t expect

The choice of fruit with the breakfast could be better – a hard, green apple is difficult to eat. I did suggest a banana instead but the apple reappeared.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 25 Nov 2013

We loved

I was here on business so it was perfectly located for the city and then the West End, depending on where meetings were. It also has the buzz of Smithfield Market and Farringdon's pubs and restuarants close by.

Don’t expect

Breakfast was not included in the price, but that meant we got to try local cafés, etc, so it wasn't a big drawback.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 22 Nov 2013

We loved

We loved the furniture, the ambiance, the exceptional staff and the fact that we got upgraded to a suite, which really toppped off our experience!

Don’t expect

The only thing I would mention is the the fan in our room made a bit of a racket, but this really didn't concern me as I was so happy!

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 6 Oct 2013

We loved

The location and building are great, like a large home in the old part of the city. I liked the fabulous large bed (quite firm mattress), the burgundy decor of our room and the bathroom with old-style bath were great. The room was stylish in an antique way and very cosy (not small). It was perfect for a short romantic interlude with my wife. There are a number of great restaurants wihtin a short walk of the hotel, which is important as the hotel has limited facilities. Breakfast was very enjoyable in our room, including a decent capuccino.

Don’t expect

 A shower would have been handy but not essential.

Rating: 9/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 8 Sep 2013

We loved

I liked the excellent staff who were very helpful, amazing bath (huge and filled fast), comfy bed and the fact that it's quiet despite being in the city.

Don’t expect

The mirrors are hopeless for shaving.

Rating: 9/10 stars

GoldSmith

Stayed on 2 Sep 2013

We loved

I stayed at the Rookery for one night on a business trip. The place is really characterful if you'd like to step back to the Georgian period, but with modern facilities. The hotel staff is very caring and kind and they are at your disposal all the time. The rooms are very quiet and beds are comfortable; some of the rooms have very particular ensuite — there's no door but velvet draping and a cast iron bath tube in the middle (there's is nowhere to hang the hand shower, so it's not very practical). It's definitely a nice place to stay if you are on a romantic break or on holiday.

Don’t expect

It's not really the best if you are in a business trip; it's better for a romantic break.

Rating: 6/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 5 Jul 2013

We loved

I liked the good service, great location and nice cat in the hotel.

Don’t expect

The room was a bit small but I knew that; it really needs a proper shower, though.

Rating: 7/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 25 May 2013

We loved

Individuality of the hotel itself, convenient location, friendly staff, excellent breakfasts.

Don’t expect

To have tea and coffee making facilities in room: it's available from room service, I know, but having the flexibility to do it yourself is nice.

Rating: 10/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on 4 May 2013

We loved

My husband and I choose the Rookery for our wedding night in and it did not disappoint. Stepping though the doorway was like stepping back in time. The decor was beautifully finished in a traditional English style without feeling stuffy or old fashioned. The free-standing roll-top bath (complete with Ren products) and four-poster bed provided a wonderfully romantic backdrop to our first night together. This was topped off by the incredibly delicious breakfast in bed (we had the baker's basket with absolutely scrumptious fresh-baked croissants and the fresh fruit with granola). It was an incredible end to an incredible day and we will definitely be back!

Don’t expect

Nothing; we wish we could have stayed longer!

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 29 Sep 2012

We loved

Room design, bathroom, history.

Don’t expect

Breakfast should be included in the price. No tea or coffee facilities in the room is slightly cheeky, as is £3.50 for a room service tea.

Rating: 6/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 21 Sep 2012

We loved

The beautiful building, lovely decor in the rooms and the wonderful original bathrooms; great for soaking in the bath and relaxing – but not so good if showers are your thing. The brilliantly-stocked honesty bar. We made use of the umbrella in the room.

Don’t expect

The room was up in the eaves and was a bit hot on arrival, it cooled down however once the air-con kicked in. The room was also a bit dark which was fine for a one night stay (and very atomspheric), but I might struggle if it was for any longer as it was hard to put make-up on etc. It would have been nice to have had my bag carried for me.

Rating: 8/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 17 Aug 2012

We loved

It was a lovely hotel with friendly staff – a real find in Central London.

Rating: 10/10 stars

BlackSmith

Stayed on 8 Jul 2012


Located in a perfect spot for a quiet peaceful weekend stay, The Rookery offers a near-rural experience – exposed beams, narrow stone-floored corridors and personal service. The Honesty Bar and courtyard are particularly quaint. Surrounded by great restaurants, The Rookery gives you the city without the 'heat' or chaos which often follows staying in London. A must-return hotel.

Rating: 8/10 stars

SilverSmith

Stayed on 27 Apr 2012


Perfect and quaint hidden away behind Farringdon. Lovely service but no breakfast other than room service. If you want to have a feast just go to

Smiths of Smithfield

for the best breakfast around.

Rating: 8/10 stars