Finding a cozy, characterful hotel in the midst of a sprawling metropolis is no mean task – especially in London. The Zetter Townhouse Marylebone, ideally positioned in the fashionable and well-located shopping district, creates the atmosphere of a boutique, country-house hotel in a throbbing area of London. The 24-bedroom, red-brick Georgian townhouse hotel opened last August following the success of its two sister properties (The Zetter Hotel and The Zetter Townhouse Clerkenwell), both within the city’s financial district.
Just a short walk from the shops of Oxford Street and within a longer walking distance of Buckingham Palace and the West End theatre district, the Zetter in fashionable Marylebone is an ideal location for visitors to the British capital. It’s also just a few minutes’ walk from the Marble Arch tube station.
Completely and utterly eccentric. A fictional character, Wicked Uncle Seymour, supposedly “owns” the property (the Clerkenwell Zetter is “owned” by Great Aunt Wilhelmina) and the hotel has been modelled on Sir John Soane’s Museum with dark, deep colours on the walls, as well as horse-racing memorabilia, antique furniture, books and quirky objet d’art and curious finds scattered – really quite liberally – around. Bathrooms feature retro Roberts digital radios, Old Ordnance Survey maps on the walls and Zen lotions – and I particularly liked the gold, red and brown-striped Witney wool blankets (more commonly seen on racehorses in Newmarket) at the end of each bed.
IF I COULD CHANGE ONE THING
Actually, I’d change two: lower the baths and use better soundproofing on the windows. Only eight rooms have showers, three have baths and showers, and the rest have a showerhead over a bath that you must climb into. This last configuration looks beautiful, but the sides of the bath are high and require a gargantuan leap. As for the windows: This hotel is central, so if you are, like me, a light sleeper, request a room on the back of the property overlooking a quiet mews – Seymour Street isn’t the busiest road in the area, but it is certainly not the quietest, either.
A buzzing cocktail bar, Seymour’s Parlour, that doubles (triples?) as a reception area and breakfast room. London locals flock here at night to enjoy such bespoke cocktails as Turf Club (Old Tom Gin, Dubonnet, grape reduction, Peruvian bitter and grass) and Two-Pennie Trash (rye whisky, powdered malts and treacle).
WHOM YOU’LL MEET
In the bar, during the evenings, trendy London media types. Other guests during my stay included trendy, U.S. media types. Younger ones, too – I’d hate to think how older people get on climbing in and out of the baths.
EAT IN OR OUT?
Seymour’s Parlour “serves nibbles” (courgette crisps, fried chilli corn), “small eats” (all-British Scotch eggs, sausage rolls and potted shrimp) or sharing boards for two, including British charcuterie, meat, fish and cheese options. So if you need a big meal, head out. Breakfast is not included and took a long time to arrive, so perhaps enjoy a coffee in the room and head out to eat.
ROOM WITH A VIEW
While it’s not exactly a view, Lear’s Loft (named after poet Edward Lear, who once lived at this address) is a suite on the top, fourth floor of the hotel. It comes with many interesting amenities (a writing desk; hot water bottles in hand-knitted covers; a retro direct-dial telephone; two types of free coffee; both flat and sparkling water), but the standout is the al-fresco, roll-top, rooftop bath. It could possibly be the only one in a London hotel.
The Zetter Townhouse Marylebone, 28-30 Seymour St., London; thezettertownhouse.com; 24 rooms from £234 ($410).
The writer was a guest of the hotel.