What? Batty Langley’s appears in a moment as you turn onto the cobbled stones of Folgate Street, leaving noisy Bishopsgate behind. Immediately on the left of the street, there’s the Londoner’s favourite, The Water Poet pub; adjacent to it is the entrance to Batty Langley’s hotel. Walk in and be immersed within the design world of the eponymous Batty Langley, an eminent 18th century architect of the area. The building tells his story, which is well worth immersing yourself in for the day and night, although if you are escaping, Spitalfields Market, the sensible luxury of the City and the noisy throws of Shoreditch are all minutes away on foot.
New? Not quite new – it opened in 2015, but comparatively new to how old the hotel feels, given that it is modelled on 18th Century design.
Where? Batty Langley’s, 12 Folgate Street, Spitalfields, E1 6BX www.battylangleys.com
On the Menu? Batty Langley’s is designed like a personal home, with a Tapestry Room (with honesty bar) and Library, and although those are full of excellent reads (Dickens, of course) and plush sofas, you’ll not find a restaurant in sight. The idea is that you take breakfast or dinner in your room, which makes sense when you see the rooms, which are each their own fairy tale. Food is classically British, and dishes make use of the best seasonal ingredients.
The Look: The entrance is flanked by two large photos, one of Mrs Langley and one of the man himself, almost scaled to size. Big, plush statement sofas sit next to antique furniture upon which stand artfully placed bowls of fruit, which position the eye as you check in. It’s informal and personal process without fuss; expect to be offered the story of Langley by the manager on arrival who due to the intimacy of the hotel makes time for every guest. The corridors and stately rooms are all luxurious, with grand photos of eminent creatives, and big thinkers, of the 18th Century.
Each room is named after a prominent local figure from the Georgian period; you’ll know yours by the name on the chunky bronze key. Settle down amidst the curves of the four-poster bed and read a little more into the hotel’s history in the bedside guide, Langley was a leading figure in modern grand design but you’ll learn more about his opulent work by traversing your room from side to side. In ours, a Junior Suite, a spectacular feat of plumbing – all bronze piping and embossed porcelain – meant our toilet was more like a thrown than a loo, and the closet-sized shower had handmade piping jets from either side, a neat demonstration of the personalisation Langley put into his work in his day. The roll top baths, all from the era, are the statement piece though and big enough for two they cry out for Champagne and strawberries for hours; the in-room speakers channel music from the TV.
Rather than perversely over the top, Batty Langley’s commitment to restoration demonstrates how these antiquated luxuries would have once felt ingeniously modern. At the same time, the roll top bath casts shade on every modern bath ever, and makes us think the same of modern housing for not reconciling such luxuries with contemporary design. Baths are so pokey these days!
What We Ate: Breakfast exposes the highest quality British ingredients, in classic dishes. The list is topped by an excellent salmon bagel, with moreish cream cheese, and a chunky bacon baguette. Ambitious eaters can warm up with a warm granola with bitesize chunks, and all the requisite maple syrup for drizzling.
A refined evening menu also serves dinner; the best of which was a sizeable chicken hot pot with runner beans and mash; a seafood pasta dish was also exquisite; the little packages of seafood draped carefully in good olive oil, although I could nearly count the shells on one hand so the dish needed a little chasing afterwards in Shoreditch in order for me to feel full.
What We Drank: Simple, classic cocktails without fuss are the order of the day: bloody mary’s for breakfast, Champagne cocktails and help yourself to the honesty bar, which has London-based artisanal spirits (amongst other things) available for your own pouring.
Go With: Your lover! Who else? It’s an indulgently decadent, and ultimately romantic, experience at Batty Langley’s.
Final Word: A low-key paradise, where finest 18th century craftsmanship for the few is now available for the many, with prices beginning at £229, which given the personal detail in each room – and the ideal location – is a steal.
Batty Langley’s: 12 Folgate Street, Spitalfields, E1 6BX