High 5: Quirky London hotels on a budget

March 20, 2014



Generator Hostel, Bloomsbury
Even when it opened in 1995, this place blew the common notion of hostel accommodation – dank dorms and Cell Bock H-esque staff – clear out of the water. Suddenly, staying in a hostel could command you some respect – street cred, even. Its industrial interior and cosmopolitan vibe had a cool, cash-conscious crowd queuing up. And now, re-launching this month, its creative communal areas (including a funky bar with London bus DJ booth) and stylish rooms are sure to keep ‘em coming. Dorm beds from £12.

The Hoxton, Shoreditch
Aside from its hip address and enveloping, urban inner spaces (omnipresent exposed brickwork), your bedroom has a flat screen TV, rainmaker shower and Frette linen, and a Pret A Manger breakfast delivered to your door daily. In the restaurant – Soho House’s slick and outstanding Hoxton Grill – American classics such as pork belly with apple slaw and mac n’ cheese come highly recommended. Doubles from £59.

The Zetter, Clerkenwell
Once a Victorian warehouse, this bold, bijou, vintage-style hotel, hidden away on a quiet, cobbled courtyard, is fabulously eccentric and fun. For example, one four-poster bed has a headboard rescued from a fairground ride. Every room has hand—knitted hot water bottle cosies, personally selected Penguin paperbacks and oversized duck-down pillows. Steps away at sister Zetter Townhouse, try mixologist Tony Conigliaro’s Flintock cocktail: gin, gunpowder tea tincture, sugar, dandelion and burdock bitters and Fernet Branca (a mean little spirit from Italy). Doubles from £126.

Barclay House, Fulham
OK, so the address isn’t going to set your world on fire – it’s a lot more residential than rock star – but if pretty streets, cute caffs and calm suit you, it’s a good choice. Barclay House is a designer bolthole with Philippe Starck fittings, custom-designed beds, orthopaedic mattresses, flatscreen TVs and underfloor heating. Chelsea and South Kensington are easily reached in one direction; Richmond in the other. And, bizarrely, if you’d like to play the hotel’s grand piano during your stay, let them know in advance and they’ll have it tuned for you. Doubles from £120.

40 Winks, Stepney Green
An insalubrious location – opposite a housing estate on Mile End Road – belies the fabulous, fairytale-ness within. The family home of eccentric interior designer David Carter (who’s been called a ‘new Lord Byron’), it has just two bedrooms but, by God, they’re glamorous. On certain dates, the house is opened to a wider audience for its famous, flamboyant Bedtime Stories soirées (pyjamas are obligatoire) when professional actors and musicians arrive to take guests and visitors on narrative travels. Doubles from £120.

Mischa Mack