Where to stay: London

The Zetter ****
Clerkenwell, just north of the City (financial district)
Cool, quirky and “happening” hotel with an environmental conscience


The Zetter opened in 2004 and quickly acquired a reputation for being among the “coolest hotels in the world” and was named Visit London’s Best Small Hotel 2006, having been singled out for its style, comfort and “quirky personality”.

It is in Clerkenwell, a gentrified area just north of the City (financial district) renowned for its restaurants, galleries and clubs. The hotel was converted from a five story Victorian warehouse known locally as the Zetter building (as in the Zetter football pools family).

The 59 bedrooms are decorated with muted English heritage paints on bare brick, Eley Kishimoto textiles and panels of vintage wallpaper. Creature comforts include duck-down duvets, raindance showers, wool-knit covered hot water bottles, and a selection of Penguin classics. There are flat screen TVs, a digital library of 4000 free music tracks and wireless internet connection. Thoughtful extras include a wide range of in-room spa treatments and access to a personal shopper. Instead of mini-bars, swipe-card vending machines on each floor supply disposable cameras, champagne, and toothbrushes. The rooms are recently double glazed and compact, while the top floor houses seven rooftop larger studios with floor-to-ceiling windows and patios with wooden decks and city views.

The ground floor restaurant overlooks St John’s Square through its giant sash windows. Its modern Mediterranean menu changes monthly, catering both for grazers and those wanting a full à la carte meal. The Zetter Bar is housed in the building’s distinctive five storey central glass atrium. 

Green features

The Zetter proudly proclaims it has an environmental conscience. Its design and construction are key factors. Sustainable and recycled materials were used including timber and reclaimed bricks. Carpets, doormats and linoleum are made from natural materials. The heating and cooling systems feature high efficiency condensing boilers, ozone benign refrigerant, and heat recovered from the bathroom ventilation exhausts. Natural pigment, water based paints and CFC/HCFC free insulants were used throughout.

The conversion is cleverly conceived and sensitive to the original architectural features. It takes full advantage of natural light: the windows are large and well-proportioned and the semi-elliptical atrium was installed with walkways at each floor level from which all of the rooms are accessed.

On hot days skylights pop open automatically in the atrium thanks to infra red sensors to ventilate the building. (If it rains the sensors shut them again.) The bedrooms are air-conditioned using water pumped from the hotel’s own bore hole and this equipment is automatically switched off if the windows are opened to reduce running costs.

The bedrooms have an occupancy detection system controlled by a swipe card which switches the power and heating on and off to save energy. They also have temperature sensors and low wattage lighting for the same purpose. The bathrooms have dual flush cisterns and aerated taps to reduce water consumption.

Under the leadership of Justin Pinchbeck, the General Manager, the Zetter gives the impression that still more green initiatives are on the way.

ecofriendlytourist.com visited The Zetter in April 2007


The Zetter
St John’s Square
86-88 Clerkenwell Road
London EC1M 5RJ
Tel: +44 (0)20 7324 4444
Fax: +44 (0)20 7324 4445

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