Search This Blog

Friday, 8 July 2011

Fox & Anchor hotel and restaurant, Clerkenwell

The Fox and Anchor is tucked away on Charterhouse Street in Farringdon, an area that never ceases to amaze me with its endless supply of original fun places to eat, drink and hang out. Unlike most gastro pubs in London the F & A also caters for stay-over trips as a mini hotel making it a perfect home away from home. Character it has in abundance, a bustling gloriously English pub with a top notch and cosy dining room at the back, and six lavish rooms upstairs.

Squeezing past a group of happy drinkers, we followed the kind waiter up the small staircase to our room. The door swung open and ahead a deluxe suite waited patiently and beautifully for us to try out all its amenities. We were staying in the Market Suite, perhaps the most extravagant of the six, with a spacious separate living room and mini terrace. We walked round to discover a plush sofa and working desk, a king size bed, two plasma TVs with sky, DVD player and Bose speakers, and best of all a stunning bathroom area with an enormous free standing copper bath, two sinks, a large walk in drench shower and a detached loo; stylish Miller Harris toiletries were conveniently placed for our use. I found the whole room truly breathtaking, especially considering the bustling little pub that it sits above. Each of the rooms are named after a London location (Barbican, Smithfield, St Pauls, Charterhouse, St Bart’s and the Market Suite) and are decorated accordingly and uniquely, with a large silkscreen print of the place above the bed.

Once I had examined and admired every fascinating feature of our room we wandered down for dinner. We were seated at the cutest little alcove table, intimate and romantic, lit by candlelight with elegant art deco vases arranged around us. The staff in the pub are helpful and friendly and made us feel immediately relaxed. The pub space is limited, but they utilise it well with wooden tables occupying every gap; in one corner a jazz duo gently strummed some familiar standards. I found the ambience, complete with the music quite idyllic, exactly the right kind of setting for an enjoyable meal.

When I couldn’t decide on a white wine, our waiter bought three tasters from his recommended bottles, a kind gesture, we settled on a light French variety that was delicious and very drinkable. With the chilled wine came a complimentary snack, a little bowl of chewy salty and very yummy pork stratchings, homemade on the premises, with a little dish of spicy English mustard to dip into. Another waiter came to reel off a long list of delectable specials, but we decided to go for choices from the menu. To start: scotch egg & curried mayonnaise (£6.50) and summer salad of merguez & rocket (£6.95) and for mains: the fox and anchor burger with chips (£15.50) and Camden town beer battered cod, chips & mushy peas (£14.50). The portions were very generous and the ingredients fresh and of high quality.

My salad was exquisite, a wonderful combination of salty spicy sausage with peppery rocket, and the most delicious vinegary dressed... apparently the scotch egg was very good too! Our mains came swiftly, I noticed the waiters enquire at each of the tables regularly if everything was alright, an attention to detail that I always appreciate - impressive considering the restaurant was full to the brim. My burger was delicious, made from the finest meat with crispy bacon and melted cheese and a bowl of the best goose fat chips, thick but perfectly cooked. The cod looked just as fresh, accompanied with a hefty portion of chips and peas. The meal was faultless but all the dishes are very rich, and looking through the menu there aren’t many lighter options.

Desserts came immaculately presented in pretty dishes: I had a very naughty Eton mess, piled high with strawberries, cream and super sweet meringues, calorific beyond belief but totally worth it. My friend had the apple and blackberry crumple that arrived steaming hot with a dollop of creamy vanilla ice-cream. We were offered digestifs but retired upstairs to our boutique suite, the envy of all the other diners!

I slept blissfully, the bed was adorned with the softest, bounciest pillows and duvets. I was overjoyed in the morning when I got to make a splash in the epic bath, fast running and powerful taps ensured the vessel was filled within minutes and it was surprisingly comfortable once in. Breakfast had less of the cosy charm - the pub, now empty felt a ghost of its former self, tables were bare and the sound of last night’s laughter was long gone. Needing to get off to an early appointment I went for breakfast just after 7am. The morning menu is a meat feast, I wasn’t too hungry so just opted for a large mug of Earl Grey tea, but perhaps it would have been nice to have something a little more continental if it had been available.

It sounds silly but I couldn't help feeling a little like Eliza Doolittle as I wandered through the early morning streets of Farringdon, past Smithfields market and the tall dusty buildings. I had a happy skip in my step after an absolutely fabulous stay at the Fox & Anchor. You’d never think from the exterior that this venue is so magical, luxurious and special inside. It is worth visiting either for a hearty meal and a tankard of F&A real Ale, or for a luxurious night’s sleep. With weekend rates starting at only £115, this hotel is much more worthy of your money than a far inferior room in the centre of town.

115 Charterhouse Street, City of London EC1M 6AA020 7250 1300, visit website and book here.


  1. love the fancy look..
    and the food looks super yummy!! =D

  2. I love the cozy feel of the hotel and the great taste in room design :)The food looks great too

  3. I love the outdoor seating area. I would love to have a little private corner to have morning coffee.

  4. I love this post..
    hhhmm.. yummy.. ^^