THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE
Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch
335 – 337 Old Street, London EC1V 9LL
Reviewed by Michael M Sandwick
New York City, 1978. At that time, SoHo was a rat-infested hole in the wall, but the warehouses provided unbelievably cheap space. A few clever people realised this and opened the first galleries and restaurants. Five minutes later, the average Joe couldn’t even afford to window shop.
Shoreditch, 2016. I am having the most marvellous flashback to those carefree days. No wonder this is my favourite part of town. I love to wander where edge and graffiti butt heads with out-of-reach designer goods. Where you can eat a pulled pork sandwich on the street, followed by a 5 star skinny latte. Where your luxury hotel offers cocktails in a jail cell where the infamous Kray brothers were once incarcerated!
The Old Street Magistrates Court and Police Station is grade II listed and one of London’s best examples of an Edwardian, Baroque style building. Architect firm, Consarc and Sundara, the interior designers, have made the most of it, retaining and restoring the original features with care. The new build in the back looks a bit like a tank, but hides some of the hotel’s best bits: a spa, cinema, bowling lanes, roof terrace and enormous banquet facilities. A wonderful marriage of old and new.
The 86 rooms and 42 suites range in price from £169 to £524. My deluxe room with seating area was enormous. Just under the eaves, it boasted the building’s 2 south-facing round windows and a sensational view of the city. The room was beautifully appointed from the down covered king-size bed to the marble tiled bath. Comfortable? To say the least.
Next, the spa. With every intention of gorging myself at dinner, I decided to hit the gym. It had everything I needed to work up a virtuous sweat. The pool had a powerful jet stream on one end. Swimming against it, I felt like a salmon, desperate to make it up stream. Exhausted, I took 20 minutes in the sauna.
My guest and I then enjoyed a G&T in the aforementioned cell before dining in the bar. Dinner hasn’t quite been thought out. The room was frigid and the pub food menu nowhere near the quality of the hotel itself. Neither was the price! Crab thermidor tart (£6.50), duck rillettes (£4.95), blackened salmon (£13.95), buttermilk chicken (£11.95), ginger sponge and apple crumble (£4.95). All simple, well prepared and comforting, if not memorable. A bottle of South African Chardonnay (£30) was a bargain.
Service was the best part of the meal. Here, like the rest of the hotel, there was a plenitude of staff and all were smiling, friendly and helpful. I never wanted, or had to ask for anything.
After a gorgeous night’s sleep, greatly enhanced by very effective blackout curtains, I moseyed on down to breaky in the courtroom itself. My favourite room. Stunning oak panelling just screamed with austerity. I could almost hear the judge sentencing me to 30 days.