* Prices may differ from that shown
Now it's not often I'm ahead of the game in terms of style and fashion but occasionally I do seem to get lucky and I have a couple of finds under my belt in order that I can truly say that "I did that before it was fashionable". The Rookery is one such find.
Genuine, small boutique hotels are actually quite difficult to find in London. There are many hotels that claim to be different but, more often than not, they all boil down to the same, formulaic blandness that is the British (and now possibly Western-world) hotel. The Rookery is, genuinely, different.
For starters it's not situated in a traditionally chi-chi part of town (at least not from the guide-books' perspective). Nestled in a back lane behind the old Smithfield market, The Rookery is a maze of adjoining houses dating back 100s of years. It's all rather unassuming from the outside and I can't help but think of Dickensian bookshops whenever I walk past. The hotel is, however, ideally placed for both the buzz of the City (Square Mile) for business and the West End for shopping and entertainment. Smithfield itself, whilst once very much a place to avoid unless you were there to trade (although what I wouldn't say!), is now a rather up and coming part of town with many refurbished flats, bars and eateries that would easily compete with the more obvious gastronomic haunts such as the South Bank wharfs, Soho and Mayfair. Add in the fact that the nearest station is Farringdon (tube and train) with its excellent links to Kings Cross (and therefore the new St Pancras International) and I think this hotel is really likely to hit the big time soon.
I first stayed at the Rookery some 8 or so years back. My then boss was a fan of rather kooky places and eschewing the obvious Thistles, Hiltons and Four Seasons, would opt for places such as the Rookery when spending a night in town. On occasions when working late or entertaining clients after work I too would stay in town to avoid a long journey home. And so it came to pass that I stayed in the Rookery.
The Rookery is, in terms at least of London hotels, small. Comprising just 33 rooms, each individually furnished with period pieces. Each room is named, rather than numbered, and the names come from the people who reputedly lived in the buildings that now make up the hotel.
Despite it's rather historic appearance and feel each of the rooms is air-conditioned and has broadband connectivity- a must for the modern business traveller. This, however, is really the only nod to the modern business hotel. This is not, yet another, faceless corporate machine. You won't find an oversized lobby, or all-hours dining room. What you get is more akin to a Gentleman's club with an oak panelled drawing room resplendent with open fire. There's a very personal feel to the place and, for the staff, nothing is too much trouble.
The individual style of the place does give rise to a few problems. Bathrooms, whilst beautiful (often with roll-topped baths) don't always have somewhere to put your things which is convenient (although the generous supply of Aveda products makes up for this!). Rooms too often lack mirrors (although there will be one in the bathroom). What you will get, though, is a very comfortable night's sleep in decadent surroundings.
Catering facilities are basic. Continental breakfast, sandwich lunches and canapés in the evening is about the extent of the regular food service. Breakfast is taken in your room, other meals tend only to be provided for meetings. Drinks, similarly, are available as required (there is no "bar") but pretty much everything you might want is available.
Meeting rooms are available in the form of the conservatory and drawing room. These are reputedly well-equipped but as my office was but 2 minutes walk away I have never had cause to use them.
Whilst it's primary use is as a business retreat I'd say that this hotel was ideally suited for a romantic weekend break. It's ideally located and you're not going to feel like you have to stay in and around the hotel. If you do chose a quite night in where could be further from the hubbub that is outside?
Expect to pay upwards of £100 a night per person at weekends, rising during the week (as with many London hotels). There are special offers available from time to time and discounts available for booking online direct with the hotel.
Located in the heart of the business district. The Rookery is eloquently decorated to reflect the days gone by with beautiful antique furniture, stone-flagged floors, and open fires. All of the rooms are named after previous tenants who lived in the Rookery buildings over the last 250 years.