I’ve often wandered past The Rookery Hotel near Farringdon station and wonder what it was (I assumed it was some kind of restaurant or bar). It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to stay at this quirky boutique London hotel, I realised my mistake. The Rookery is a quintessential British hotel and one of Farringdon’s hidden gems. From the outside the brick facade of The Rookery Hotel in Farringdon is unassuming. Built in the 18th and 19th centuries, The Rookery Hotel was formerly a series of shops, with accommodation above – you can still see the tradesmen signs – in part of what was once one of London’s worst city slums (a rookery was an 18th century city slum).
Thankfully this couldn’t be further away from The Rookery Hotel as it stands today. Discreetly tucked away on the corner of St Peter’s Lane and Cowcross Street, I’d definitely class The Rookery Hotel as one of Farringdon’s hidden gems. It’s gorgeous. The converted Georgian terraces of the Rookery Hotel ooze character and Dickensian charm. This cosy boutique hotel has 33 rooms and two singles (including suites – the Rook’s Nest taking up the top floor is the most decadent which comes complete with its own Edwardian bathing machine and a spire that goes into the eves, hidden by a retractable ceiling) all named after former residents. Stepping inside The Rookery Hotel it felt as if I’d entered into a private members’ club. Surrounded by lots of dark wood and a distinctly masculine vibe, I was world’s away from the hustle and bustle of the city. In fact it was hard to believe I was in the heart of Farringdon.
We stayed in the Sophie Rood room, at the end of a seemingly endless, Crystal Maze-like corridor on the third floor (there are no lifts). Forget contemporary chic, The Rookery Hotel is all about old world charm. I loved the four poster bed, wooden slats and ornate busts dotted around the room of this historic hotel which has free wifi, and there were even books on the mantlepiece as well as a TV, fridge, minibar and safe all unobtrusively located within the wooden wardrobe. Spying a free-standing cast iron roll-top bath in the adjoining bathroom I decided to indulge in a leisurely soak – it would have been rude of me not to take advantage and put it to good use.
I also couldn’t believe my ears when I was told that The Rookery Hotel runs an ‘honesty’ bar. This means that the bar is left unstaffed, guests help themselves to drinks from the menu and write down in a book what they have had along with their room number. Given I’m very honest and that drinks were quite pricey (I don’t know if that’s to compensate for the fact that the hotel anticipates some people’s servings being a bit on the generous side, though I’d like to just put it down to London prices) we preferred to check out Farringdon’s nightlife. There’s plenty of it. The Rookery Hotel is one of the closest hotels to Farringdon tube station, it’s literally a 30 second walk. Plus it’s moments away from St John Street, a burgeoning foodie heaven with a plethora of restaurants nearby that include St John, Hix Oyster & Chop House, Smith of Smithfields, Bird of Smithfield, Polpo, Burger and Lobster and Portal a Portuguese restaurant. If you’re up for clubbing Fabric nightclub is just down the road too, though it would be a shame not to make the most of a good night’s sleep in the hotel’s comfortable four-poster beds.
The Rookery Hotel is also well situated for shopping as some of London’s best markets are within walking distance. The famous Smithfield Market is just opposite –considering its proximity the hotel is surprisingly pretty quiet. If you’ve got beef with that head to trendy Exmouth Market, another hotspot for foodies, a short walk away. As is Leather Lane Market, home to some great street food that includes the legendary Daddy Donkey Mexican food truck (Sharps always use to rave about it when he worked down the road in Farringdon).
My only gripe about The Rookery Hotel is that breakfast isn’t included. You can pay an extra £11.95 per person and have a selection of croissants and pastries delivered to your room. But as you can see as there are so many places to eat nearby in Farringdon which is why we opted to head out and buy our own. If you’re after a grown-up, luxury, romantic getaway in London away from the usual tourist traps The Rookery Hotel is the place to go. One thing is certain, you won’t be slumming it with a stay at the Rookery Hotel.