115 Charterhouse Street London EC1M 6AA
Visit the Website 020 7250 1300
As I stepped into the Fox and Anchor I felt like a star caught out by the paparazzi. Sadly, the group of tourists were not papping me but the historical facade of this Smithfield gastropub and boutique hotel.
The pub used to be one of the traditional morning haunts of traders at the nightly Smithfield meat market round the corner. The bar has been lovingly restored to its traditional glory. Upstairs things have changed a little......
The Fox is owned by Richard Balfour Lynn the CEO of MWB who run the successful boutique hotel chains, Malmaison and Hotel du Vin. Rooms above a pub have never been like this. Five interior-designed air-conditioned rooms and one suite with large decked terrace have burnished copper basins, free-standing roll-top baths and drench showers. A clever touch in the bedrooms; headboards featuring a stunning photograph of the local scene after which each room is named – St Bart's, St Paul's, Charterhouse – lord it over the sumptuous beds.
The rooms are cozy boudoirs draped in dusky jewel-toned velvets – perfect for a winter retreat (I stayed in December). The style is the opulent best of old an new; modern minimal sofas nod to the old diamond pane pub windows. Beds are large; their firmness is, as Goldilocks said, not too hard or too soft but ‘just right’ and they are clad in fresh white cotton. A well-lit wardrobe/dressing area and even a kettle with tea and coffee (something I wish more luxury hotels went in for), free WiFi I, plasma screens, DVD players and mood lighting complete the luxury take on a traditional pub.
The bathroom was the real star of my St Barts room. It was almost as big as the bedroom – a tasteful mix of modern, mushroom mosaic tiles, an old-style claw-foot bath and an original Victorian loo. Book the Smithfield room and you’ll get a double length freestanding bath at the end of your bed. There’s also a huge drench shower the size of a dinner plate in a shower stall built for two. Did I steal the toiletries? They are by cool London perfumer, Miller Harris so, yes indeedy.
Thick curtains provided effective blackout and windows are double glazed for quiet but if you are used to a completely noiseless sleep, ask for a room at the back – remember that Smithfield market still gets into its stride around 2am.
Though it is is no longer filled with market traders before 7am, the pub does open for breakfast and serves a very fine Eggs Benedict.
Any downsides? There’s no room service but, with the pub downstairs, that’s hardly a problem. The Fox and Anchor has the perfect combination of a friendly informal style and impeccably high standards. I’m keeping its number in my little black book listed under ‘hideaways’. This hotel is a keeper and one I would definitely like to return to.