Opened by the owners of the imaginative Hazlitt's and the Gore, this homely little hotel full of old curiosities and flights of fancy is in a traffic-free alleyway among the restaurants of fashionable Clerkenwell. Created from a row of converted listed Georgian cottages, it is packed with character and ‘time-warp’ detail: wood panelling; period shutters; open fires; flagged floors; even a special creaky sound put into the treads of the new stairs to make them seem old. Pretty bedrooms have little half-shutters, fresh Egyptian cotton sheets, summer and winter duvets. Mini-bars and ‘workstations’ are discreetly hidden behind antique doors. Bathrooms are delightful, with Victorian fittings, exposed copper pipes and wainscotting. The suite, on two floors, has a rococo French bed, attendant blackamoor and an Edwardian bathing machine; an electronically controlled panel shuts off the upper floor for business meetings.
  A conservatory, with open fire and leather chairs, serves as a day room, opening on to a tiny terrace garden. Breakfast, continental, is on trays: fresh orange juice, coffee and croissants prepared and baked by the hotel’s own pâtissier. We visited recently and enjoyed the vaguely Dickensian atmosphere as much as ever. Try nearby Portal restaurant in St John Street – good Portuguese food.