For some time we had been hearing all about Clerkenwell and how it is now THE most happening place in London. We had already checked out south London, and been quite impressed with Bermondsey. So we thought why not go further afield, this time east to see what's new and happening. And we were suitably impressed.
Clerkenwell dates back to at least the 12th Century when the area was named after the Clerk's Well. The discovery of various springs led to the establishment of monasteries during the medieval period, which were later dissolved under Henry VIII in 1539. The combination of the Great Fire in 1666 and the industrialisation process swelled Clerkenwell's population as artisans, craftsman and numerous prisons were built in and around Clerkenwell. The eventual changes in manufacturing technology forced many companies either into bankruptcy or out of the area. For years, the Victorian and Edwardian warehouses were deserted and disused.
Today Clerkenwell is one of the Capital's fastest growing areas among young professionals. Loft living, art spaces and even one of Europe's biggest night clubs has opened in the area.
In the last few years, the real-estate potential of these unconventional spaces close to the City was realised and renovation began in earnest. Today, Clerkenwell, in a word, is boomtown. Tradition and modernity are one with the Smithfield meat marketers starting up business as clubbers make their way home from the various night spots.
So we pitched up at The Rookery for the night. The Rookery is on the outskirts of the "square mile" just a short distance from St. Paul's and the Bank of England. The Rookery hotel takes its name from the colloquial terms - stews or rookeries - given to this part of London in days past- rough, unlawful streets long gone which attracted all manner of villains including, reputedly, Charles Dickens's immortal rascal, Fagin. With it's antique emporium at the heart of Clerkenwells' resurgence, The Rookery is centrally located in the heart of Clerkenwell. And its style is very much reflective of this period.
It was quite late when we checked in, there was one staff member on reception and the check in process was swift, which suited us just fine as we were desperate to hit the hay, after a long day running around London.
Our room was on the ground floor; the receptionist helped us with our luggage and showed us to our room. The room was perfect if I was sharing with my husband, tonight I was sharing with my sister! The room was far too romantic to be sharing with big sis. There was a lovely huge antique bed, and a great lounge area for relaxing. Fortunately the bathroom was completely separated from the bedroom, as Dal is prone to taking late night showers, whereas I am more interested in hitting the sack the minute I enter the room. Our room was on the ground floor; the only negative thing about it was that whoever was in the room above was walking around half the night in very noisy high heels. After tolerating it for approx thirty minutes we called reception to make them aware of the situation, five minutes later and it was taken care of.
Breakfast at the Rookery is brought to the room, which is great. The sizes of the portions are extremely generous! So make sure you are hungry. For breakfast I ordered cereal followed by bacon filled ciabatta rolls. The bacon was scrumptious, grilled to perfection. Dal ordered the granola over which she poured strawberry yoghurt. She had also ordered a croissant, instead of bringing just one croissant, there was a whole basket of pastries which were still warm, and too hard to resist.
Despite the fact that the Rookery is located in the heart of Clerkenwell, it's a lovely little quiet retreat. The staff are very good at responding to every requirement.
The only downside for me was that there is a cat! She practically lives at reception, not very good for someone like me, who is allergic to cats.
Before we knew it, it was time to leave. At reception we ordered a taxi, and parked our luggage at Left Luggage, to collect later on whilst we went to town to shop until we dropped.