Quite the staple in style-cities around the world, the high-end B&B – complete with in-the-know host, and a tragically hip locale complete with hipster community spirit – is an ever-increasing global phenomenon. So London, hippest of all hip cities, show us your hand. Oh. It’s like that is it? Not quite Monkey Tennis, but a nice idea for a TV show would be to arm some unsuspecting internationally savvy, design-conscious travellers with £85 and a city map and watch them do their worst. At best, they’ll find a Travelodge and a copy of Wallpaper* – and even that’d be a coup.
Quite simply, stylish accommodation that doesn’t leave your wallet feeling like it’s done the proverbial ten rounds is frankly non-existent in the capital – or at least it was until former music industry worker Annette Russell set herself up in an up-and-coming area of Hackney, East London. At present, Clapton has less of the hipster and more of the community spirit, and the local pubs, restaurants and cafés offer a welcome relief from the American Apparels and Urban Outfitters of Shoreditch – it’s rough around the edges, just as East London should be – but with super-cool bands (the likes of Salem, Glasser and Blondes) from Russell’s former life dropping by, it’s an area that’ll surely be finding itself uttered in the same breath as Williamsburg and Kreuzberg before long.
Inside, the local area’s favourable blend of old-fashioned and hip has certainly left its mark: original artworks, carefully curated antiques and art books sit side-by-side with a refreshingly beat-up sofa, original Victorian features, and Annette’s charming whippet Reggie. It’s a cheesy and well-worn line, but a night spent at Russell’s is like bedding down at a design-conscious relative’s house – complete with over-indulgent breakfast in the morning.
If you’re looking to break out of the big-chain mould, can’t stomach the excessive prices of the city’s most desirable design hotels, or just want an honest – but decidedly stylish – home from home. Look no further.