Batty Langley’s is an unusual name. But this is an unusual hotel. Open since 2015, this small hotel in the heart of Spitalfields has 29 bedrooms packed with bags of personality and British charm. Batty Langley (1696-1741) was an architect who published popular books to help home-owners plan beautiful Georgian houses. Examples of his work can be found across the globe, including in George Washington’s home at Mount Vernon.
To live up to its name, the building’s meticulous restoration took five years to complete, with enormous efforts to source antiques and original pieces for modern-day hotel use. Found on a quiet cobbled street lined with old-fashioned lamps and time-worn Georgian buildings, the hotel is a perfect spot for exploring this dynamic corner of old London. Spitalfields is filled with some of the capital’s most exciting bars, restaurants and boutiques, as well as fascinating attractions like as Dennis Severs’ House – an intimate portrait of the lives of a family of Huguenot silk-weavers from 1724 to the dawn of the twentieth century – just two doors away, plus the V&A’s Museum of Childhood and Spitalfields Market.
All bedrooms are individually designed and full of character; each is filled with antique furniture and pictures, four-poster beds, sumptuous colours and wooden panelling. Bathrooms are refurbished with amazing vintage fittings, including magnificent old lavatories, cast-iron roll top baths and period-style ‘bathing machines.’ Much like staying in a stunningly restored Georgian home, there’s also top-notch technology cleverly hidden and engineered behind mirrors and into cabinets.
Each room is named after an East London character, commemorating politicians, silk merchants, petty thieves, tarts and vagabonds who lived in the area. Names include pickpocket Jenny Diver, courtesan Kitty Fisher and of course, Batty Langley himself. I stayed in the magnificent Earl of Bolingbroke’s Suite – home to a hidden throne room (revealed by pressing the spine of a book in the suite’s library), and an enormous antique marble bath, which I’m told was installed by crane before the roof was completed.
Oil portraits adorned dark blue walls, and heavy gold silk curtains revealed a spacious roof garden with amazing views of the London skyline and a bespoke sundial marking historic London landmarks such as Tyburn Gallows, Kenwood House and Pentonville Prison.
Guests can help themselves to local tipples and Berry Bros wines from the honesty bar in The Tapestry Room, or well-stocked minibars in their room. Although there is no restaurant, a small room service menu of eight or so items included an excellent beef bourguignon. The following morning, I had breakfast in bed: a bagel from neighbourhood institution ‘Brick Lane Beigel Bake,’ heaped with smoked salmon.
A hotel for those eager to avoid the corporate norm, Batty Langley’s is a stunning property, packed full of British humour, eccentricity and atmosphere. For architecture fans, or anyone looking to impress overseas guests, Batty Langley’s offers a magnificent sense of place – you really couldn’t be anywhere but London. In my experience, there’s no other hotel in London like it.
Rates at Batty Langley’s start from £320 per room, per night including taxes, based on two sharing.
BATTY LANGLEY’S, 12 FOLGATE STREET, LONDON E1 6BX
T: +44 207 377 4390 E: RESERVATIONS@BATTYLANGLEYS.CO.UK