The Fox and Anchor, Smithfield

Frances Cottrell visits the Fox and Anchor in Clerkenwell.

On a rare sunny afternoon in London, Smithfield Market isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but a first glance at the Fox and Anchor opposite the meat market instantly makes you fall in love with the area.

The ground floor itself is nothing to write home about, but a glance above at the impressive façade covered in patterned tiles, gargoyle style foxes, leaded windows and a higgledy array of features and it’s easy to see why it’s something of a shrine to architecture fans in London and even further afield.

The Fox and Anchor itself is on the shabby side of shabby chic but looks familiar and inviting with Victorian features such as mahogany doors, etched glass and an ample helping of brass; but could do with a little tlc to support the stature of the exterior.

Inside the pub there’s an impressive selection of ales on tap that the pub serves daily from 7:00am (due to their licence) which are delivered in tankards to add to the sense of antiquity. Dinner was served to us in one of the “snugs” which adds to the cosy atmosphere but getting attention from your waiter can prove a bit of a challenge.

The meal was what you’d expect from a good pub in the city and offered a selection of old London favourites like a pint of prawns and hot, freshly baked pork pies, as well as the usual steaks and burgers on any pub menu across the country.

The rooms, however, were not at all what one would expect from this pub. The entrance is a narrow staircase, totally neglected by the interior design which is wonderful in the rooms themselves, so persist if it initially looks daunting!

We stayed in The Fox and Anchor’s Market Suite which is beautifully decorated and impressively spacious with a bedroom complete with a king size bed and large sitting area with desk and a galley-style bathroom.

Both rooms come with Plasma TVs and Bose sound systems and an additional perk of the private terrace the room has exclusive access to. Come the late afternoon it turns into a complete sun trap and a good tip would be to while away a couple of hours there looking out over the city.

The piece de résistance for The Market Suite is its very impressive bathroom with its immense free-standing copper bath, double copper sinks and a huge walk-in, drench shower. The standard of accommodation is very high, and this would definitely be a favourable city break for someone looking for quality but originality in the city.

Read our guide to the best restaurants in Clerkenwell or the best boutique hotels in London.

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