Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch, London
Slap bang in the middle of achingly cool Shoreditch, East London's hottest, hippest suburb.
Formerly the Old Street Magistrates' Court and Police Station, this imposing Grade II-listed Edwardian building re-opened its doors as a luxury 128-room hotel in May. Thanks to a sensitive £40 million refurbishment, evidence of its previous life abound, from the Metropolitan Police crests on the tiled lobby floor to the former holding cells that are now snug drinking dens in the bar (two of which allegedly held the notorious London gangsters Ronnie and Reggie Kray in the 1960s). Much of the building's original wood panelling and stained glass has been kept while new additions include a spacious rooftop terrace, a 196-seat cinema, an indoor heated swimming pool and a two-lane bowling alley. Attempts to soften the building's sombre legacy include an eye-catching gold statue of a Queen's Guardsman in the lobby and a painting of the Mona Lisa in handcuffs in the bar.
Room styles differ across the hotel's two wings, with those in the original magistrates building the more interesting thanks to deep purple lampshades, mauve sofas and bright blue chairs. The decor in the new wing is safer, with a more muted palette, but there's the consolation of city skyline views on the higher floors and two plush 60-square-metre sky terrace suites with private bars and mini-cinema lounges. Rooms in both wings have spacious modern grey marble-effect bathrooms with indulgent rain head showers and stylish black bathrobes. Splash out on a room with a bath and you'll get a striking standalone tub with a TV and waterproof remote control.
At the time of review the hotel hadn't opened the fine-dining restaurant that will occupy its intimate wood-panelled former courtroom (due mid-November). The interim offering in the bar is solid rather than spectacular with a limited menu in a high-ceilinged space that lacks intimacy. Breakfast is served in the former court waiting room, a sparsely decorated space with grey walls, dark wood and light brown bench seats. A skylight and a striking modern chandelier help lighten the mood but some colourful furnishings and artwork are needed. By today's mixology standards, the drinks menu on the rooftop bar is unadventurous but the panoramic city skyline views still make it a plum spot.
Shoreditch's revival is well-documented and the suburb is now home to a dizzying array of bars, restaurants and boutiques. Michelin-starred The Clove Club is opposite, restaurant-lined Hoxton Square is a trilby toss away and the likes of Brick Lane, Spitalfields Market and the Old Truman Brewery are but a short stroll. Explore the area's backstreets and you'll discover gems such as bespoke perfumer Le Labo, '80s-style diner The Breakfast Club and ABQ, a Breaking Bad-themed bar in an RV.
An impressive restoration that will hopefully hit its stride once staff settle in and its signature restaurant opens.
Complimentary fresh fruit smoothie and basket of pastries with breakfast.
Enthusiastic but unpolished service in restaurant and rooftop bar.
Our rating: ★★★½
TripAdvisor rating: ★★★★
335-337 Old Street, London. Rooms from £199. Phone +44 20 3310 5555, see shoreditch.courthouse-hotel.com
Rob McFarland was a guest of Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch.
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