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The Zetter, London 

86–88 Clerkenwell Road
Tel: 44 207 324 4444
view web site ›'s insider take:

The giant red Z on the front of this hotel tips you off (as if you hadn't already been primed by the "aren't I gorgeous?" vibe of the entire neighborhood): The Zetter isn't the shy and retiring type. One of the converted warehouses indigenous to Clerkenwell, the place may read as nonchalant, but you know full well every inch was born in a sketchbook, mood board, or blueprint before the hotel opened in 2004. In fact, design darlings Precious McBane are behind the witty vintage look: dusty pink, turquoise, or hot orange-on-white color schemes in the 59 rooms, along with Louis seats with mock-70s floral upholstery and Knoll chairs in Eley Kishimoto fabrics. Rooftop studios earn technology brownie points for body-temperature–regulating Freshbeds. There are HansGrohe rain showers in the bathrooms and second-hand Penguin Classic paperbacks on the nightstands—plus hallway vending machines (think splits of Champagne, not Fritos) instead of minibars. The first floor is an all-day restaurant with walls of window, lots of achingly cool locals, and a vitrine of YBA works. If that doesn't appeal, the arrival of head chef Diego Jacquet in 2006—formerly of the Trafalgar's Rockwell Bar and Restaurant, El Bulli, and Aquavit—might just do it for you. Almost best of all, the rates are (for London) way low.

From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:
This Victorian warehouse turned 59-room hotel on heavily trafficked Clerkenwell Road is missing nary a detail of what constitutes a cutting-edge big-city boutique hotel: duck-down pillows, CD/DVD players, and 24-hour room service (from the fashionable Italian restaurant downstairs). It also happens to have a few good ideas of its own, including hot-water bottles, complimentary mineral water drawn from the hotel's own well, and a soothing color scheme of ash-gray shag carpet, tan walls, and taupe laminates. A communal espresso maker is tucked away next to the ice machine on every floor, and a drinks vending machine pairs Smirnoff vodka with a can of Red Bull to make the ultimate clubgoers' cocktail. The only thing missing is the serious housekeeping and service needed to pull it all together.—2005 Hot List

When to go: London is at its buzziest from fall through Christmas.

Which room to book: A rooftop studio with a terrace and views over London

Amenities: Bar/lounge, 24-hour Room Service, Wheelchair-accessible

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