A new hotel transforms a scary local landmark into a party destination
Located opposite the Town Hall on Old Street, the Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch aims to be the next hot destination for sleeping, eating and partying in East London. Its owners established their formula when they converted the old Great Marlborough Street Magistrates Court in Soho ten years ago. Then, as now, they took a listed building with a colourful backstory, and gave it a contemporary makeover, while retaining key period architectural details such as panelling and fireplaces.
In Shoreditch, the Baroque-style Grade II listed building has been spruced up, and given a new extension. These now house 86 guest rooms and 42 suites, a restaurant, two bars, a roof terrace, spa, bowling alley and cinema.
To add a certain frisson, they’ve once again kept the interiors of the former courtrooms. Courtroom number 2 now houses the ‘Jailhouse Bar’, described by the press release as a “place to take the ‘cuffs off’ and unwind”. The prison theme is pretty much worked to death in the cocktail menu, which features regrettably-named offerings such as the Ball and Chain, Chokey, and Liquid Cosh.
As in Soho, the hotel’s designers have repeated their trick of turning former police cells into private bar seating. Thankfully, the old benches in the latter have been replaced with deeply buttoned leather upholstery, but the cinderblock walls and high barred windows remain, together with graffiti portraits of infamous former inhabitants, such as the Kray twins.
The restaurant, called Judge & Jury, is located in what was once Courtroom number 1. The old panelled walls have been retained, and now provide a woody contrast to seating decorated in shades of grey with accents inspired by barristers’ pink ribbon. The menu aims to serve up reworked British comfort food, and currently includes dishes such as Cornish crab croquette with red chilli and pineapple salsa, baked cod with wild mushrooms, puy lentils and double cream fricassee, and a range of steaks and other grill-ables. Prices for mains range from £11 to £22.50.
Perhaps wisely, there’s not much reference to police cells or courtrooms in the rooms and suites, which are instead decorated in a standard-issue contemporary luxe style, with plush fabrics, hints of gold and a neutral colour palette. The entry-level room type, known as a Dalston King, is a reasonable 26 m2, or 280 square feet, with a published rate of £179 per night.
335–337 Old Street, EC1V 9LL