In the same way that the The Ned enhances the magic of the memory of Mary Poppins in the old Midland Bank down at Bank Junction, the Courthouse Hotel in Shoreditch has sympathetically converted a Grade II Baroque building which was once the Old Street Magistrates Court and Police Station into a fine, plush hotel – within walking distance to our Barbican Estate.
The Kray Twins stood trial here in 1965 for “demanding money through menaces” and in its time the police station held Eric Arthur Blair (otherwise known as George Orwell) in its cells. In one of his essays, Orwell describes 48 hours in custody in December 1931 after drinking “four or five pints”. Apparently, it seems that it was his intention to be arrested, “in order to get a taste of prison and to bring himself closer to the tramps and small-time villains with whom he mingled”, according to biographer Gordon Bowker.
The Courthouse Hotel is imposing but still charming and has 2 main buildings: the original – with all its nooks and crannies, mosaic floors, leaded windows and magnificent staircases and the new building (behind) stylishly tacked on but allowing the whole to enjoy all the modern corporate and spa luxuries. Just about the only way you will know which building you are in is which lift you take; the multiple lift locations give you an excuse to get lost and discover all that this place has to offer.
The staff are excellent and abundant – I think they realise that the buildings are slightly warren-like, so the staff are well-placed to guide you just when you need it.
The Courthouse Hotel features 86 guest rooms and 42 suites and after its £40 million renovation, it prides itself on the space and individual character of each of the guestrooms.
‘Upper 5th Shoreditch’ with our Barbican towers in the distance on the left
Definitely visit for a drink in one of the police cells in the ‘Jailhouse Bar’ and don’t miss the ‘Upper 5th Shoreditch’ rooftop terrace bar (if the weather is kind enough). The rooftop terrace also features summer barbeques from time to time.
The ‘slammers’ in the Jailhouse Bar.
We went out for a walk in the evening and the area was buzzing and vibrant with life. Wild Shoreditch nightclubs and revellers – the streets were full of all ages and purposes well into the early hours, but you don’t hear a whisper in the rooms; this place is an oasis.
As well as the full breakfast menu (and Sunday’s brunch options) the restaurant also offers à la carte dining and afternoon tea, all at typical London (but not vastly extortionate) prices.
Overnight stay prices aren’t cheap, but this is a 5-star hotel, and we are so close that we can keep a watchful eye on special offers. Personally, I would be tempted back by the brunch, the subterranean 2-lane bowling alley, the spa and 10m long heated pool. The function rooms underground can be configured to hold small to vast numbers so keep this in mind for events and parties.
Subterranean bowling alley
The bowling alley, in particular, strikes me as a fun-focused venue for a function. It can host private parties of up to 100 with the capacity to host a DJ and a private bar and is a fantastic alternative to more formal spaces.
With so many extra-curricular facilities here, the Courthouse Hotel cleverly packages accommodation with other offers to tempt us: from ‘Pamper Packages’ including free massages to the ‘Stay & CineBrunch Package’ with breakfast, brunch, 90 minutes of free-flowing prosecco followed up by a movie in the luxurious 196-seat cinema.
Email Shoreditch@Courthouse-hotel.com, call on 0203 3105555 or check their website shoreditch.courthouse-hotel.com for the best prices and special offers.
335–337 Old Street, EC1V 9LL