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Friday, 15 July 2011

The Zetter Townhouse, hotel and restaurant in Clerkenwell

The Zetter Townhouse is a completely unique and enchanting converted Georgian house. For me it is even more than this though, with a family made up of eccentric artists, my home is not dissimilar to ZTH with its musicological artefacts hanging daringly on the walls and mismatched decor defining a lovely but unconventional living space. Consequently I felt oddly at ease in this fascinating location as well as understanding the passion for beautiful intriguing objects.

Before coming to ZTH I had heard many people mention this special Townhouse, a gorgeously designed hotel cum cocktail parlour. I’d never quite accepted the glowing reputation, at least not until I saw it...

Despite parking directly outside we walked straight past this inconspicuous hotel - there are no gaudy signs, only a discreet doormat welcoming you in. We were kindly escorted straight up to our room, walking through the exquisite cocktail lounge to a secret lift in the corner.

Our room was magnificent, decorated with the most wonderful bits and bobs, cute painting here, antique radio there, it was a feast for the eyes. A writing desk, grand double bed, tall standard lamp, chest of drawers, flat screen TV (the only non-retro amenity!), and majestic wardrobe furnished the spacious room. To one side a luxurious bathroom was fully equipped with REN products, giant marble bath, rain dance shower, complimentary slippers and wonderful fluffy bathrobes…even a vintage Roberts digital radio sat on the shelf here for our enjoyment.

A mouth-watering fruit salad had been left for me on the table, as well as a generous selection of glossy magazines. Quirky extras are plentiful; bottled spring water from the ZTH’s own borehole is complimentary and sits on the bedside table; an honesty snack bar is fully equipped with refreshments should you need anything, and a little fridge stocks a range of drinks including pre-mixed bitters and cocktails. Rare Tea Co teas and ground coffee along with a teapot and coffee maker are free to use.

ZTH is located in a cluster of trendy cafes and bars in Clerkenwell - so if you fancy exploring there are plenty of options. Across the road, at the Zetter Hotel, is Bistrot Bruno Loubet where you can eat delicious French food. The chef has a partnership with the Zetter company and has even created a special grazing menu for the ZTH residents and visitors.

Famous for its genius mixology, guests come from near and far just to try the ZTH cocktails. Each poured into a unique vintage glass, these house cocktails look and taste really special. My favourite was ‘Les Fleurs du Mal’ (Rose vodka, lemon juice with a hint of La Maison Fontaine Absinthe) an inspiring mix of flavours that plays on one's palate, the kick of aniseed absinthe works surprisingly well. We also tried ‘Twinkle’ (Wyborowa, elderflower cordial & Perrier Jouet champagne), ‘The Richmond’ (Chivas Regal 12yr, apple honey & Lillet blanc), and ‘The Flinktock’ (Beefeater 24 gin, gunpowder tea tincture, sugar, dandelion & burdock bitters & Fernet Branca) - the last of these were a little too strong for me, but fascinating to taste nonetheless.

We ordered a selection of plates to share from the thrilling menu of exotic sounding treats for supper. The crunchy Parmesan shortbread to nibble on with our cocktails came first on a pretty blue vintage plate. Then for starters we tried: Grilled merguez, crushed harissa chick peas, Grilled vegetables dip & toasted sliced baguette, and Pan fried Halloumi cheese, lemon, chilli & oregano. Each dish came beautifully presented: vibrant combinations of flavours and textures that had obviously been carefully and skilfully developed. The halloumi was our particular favourite, the salty chewy cheese was dressed with the sweetest sauce with a little chilli kick.

Then for seconds, two of the supper bowls: Broad beans & lovage pesto risotto for me, and the dish of the day, Chicken curry for my companion. I was initially surprised by the small-ish portions, but they were filling and wholesome and for £5.50 it was the perfect amount. My risotto was delicious, seasoned well, healthy and green, for once I didn’t feel like I needed a ton of parmesan on top, which certainly says something about the quality and freshness of the ingredients. The curry was good too, a Korma-esque light chicken curry accompanied by vegetables and rice.

After another round of cocktails, (we couldn’t resist trying two more of the Zetter concoctions) we finished with a hefty slice of the cake of the day, which happened to be chocolate and banana, a winning double act. The cake was obviously recently homemade, because I could still smell the sweet aromas, and the sponge was wonderfully bouncy.

I denied myself a third cocktail and we crept back upstairs to our hidden wonderland, to bounce on the marshmallow soft mattress and splash around in the large marble bath, before melting into a deep sleep in bed. The next day I woke after a long rest, we had a leisurely morning before wandering downstairs to eat breakfast among the divine relics. Frothy cappuccinos, fresh orange juice and our cooked breakfasts of choice came promptly, the ideal lazy morning. I was sad to leave.

Modern luxury in a bijou, antique heaven - the Zetter Townhouse is a place to fall in love, and fall in love with.

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  2. Thank you so much for your visit and your comment.
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    Have a sweet weekend, Tereza.