London Update: Cockney Cool

The status of London’s East End rises thanks to a new group of artisanal hoteliers.

Next time you visit cool Brittania, why not take the ‘trouble and strife’ (wife) to the real heart of London. From its working class cockney roots, the outer London boroughs of Bethnal Green, Clerkenwell, Hackney, Islington and Spitalfields were made cool by the likes of Kate Moss and Guy Ritchie in his cult film Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, and not surprisingly, Soho House was at the center of the buzz. The exclusive members-only Shoreditch branch opened on the top 3 floors of an industrial warehouse in 2007 to much acclaim just as the funky area was starting to enjoy a new renaissance as a Boho-grungy artist ghetto full of galleries, design studios, architect’s practices, and photographic studios.

Now the club is opening 26 rooms to non-members, who will have the same privileges as club members, including meals in the Square Bar and the House Kitchen, as well as access to the rooftop pool, the New Cowshed Spa and the on-site bowling alley. The Shoreditch maintains the club’s old East London vibe with featured work from local artists and designers. Rooms are light and airy, featuring vintage twists within an urban setting. Overlooking Ebor Street or facing views of the City, bedrooms–four with private balconies–are fitted with credenza-style ‘tallboys’, wooden shutters and old-fashioned telephones. Bathrooms all have rainforest showers, complete with Cowshed goodies. The hotel’s bespoke ‘Borrow Me’ collection also includes vintage books and games, an iron and ironing board, and a sewing machine amongst other quirky items available for guests to enjoy.

Rates: From US$125 p/night for non-members. Special rates from $90 are available online to both members and non-members, subject to availability and pre-payment. For all general enquiries call +44 207 739 5040 or contact reservations@shoreditchhouse.com.

Other local establishments worth checking into are British design guru Sir Terrence Conran’s The Boundary, which opened in January 2009. Each room pays a tribute to a designer or design movement such as Le Corbusier, Charles and Ray Eames, Bauhaus or Mies Van der Rohe. The Rooftop Bar is spectacular with 360-degree views from Canary Wharf to the City’s Gherkin and Barbican across the rooftops and spires of East London. Snuggle up in a Welsh blanket beneath a large sail-like canopy with festoon lighting and down a Guinness by the warmth of the outdoor wood-bring fireplace.

Rates: From US$330 p/night. Phone +44 207 729 1051 for reservations or email: rooms@theboundary.co.uk.

40 Winks is possibly London’s smallest and most whimsical hotel, built in 1717 with only 2 bedrooms, and now run by its eccentric interior designer owner, David Carter, who lives downstairs and has created an eclectic and theatrical atmosphere that includes a popular bi-monthly “Bed Time Story Night.” Dressed in nightgowns, pajamas and slippers, guests are read short stories in the candlelit drawing room by featured performers over Horlick’s and hot toddies.

Rates: From US$155-215 p/night. Phone + 44 207 790 0259 for reservations or email: reservations@40winks.org

Latest posts by Kate Ayrton

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