Globe-Trotter’s guide to London’s preeminent design district.
London is often described as a city made up of individual villages, each one with its own distinctive style, vibe and character. With its cobbled streets, historic buildings and pretty public spaces, Clerkenwell certainly has all the hallmarks of an inner-city village. And if there’s one thing the area is known for – aside from world-class restaurants, bars and shopping – it’s design. Clerkenwell and neighbouring Farringdon have long held a reputation as London’s undisputed design hub, home to more creative and architectural businesses per square mile than anywhere else in the world.
Perhaps it was this creative energy that attracted Globe-Trotter to Clerkenwell back in 1938, when the company set up shop in a red-brick factory on St John Street. Though Globe-Trotter would later up sticks to Hertfordshire, those early years in EC1 still play an important role in the company’s story. So much so that this year’s autumn/winter collection pays homage to Globe-Trotter’s original London base, with recurring patterns taken directly from the Victorian factory.
To celebrate Globe-Trotter’s connection to Clerkenwell, we’ve put together a guide to our favourite things to see, do and experience in the local area:
DRINKING & DINING
It’s no secret that Londoners (and tourists) love a good old fashioned pub. Fortunately, Clerkenwell is positively brimming with boozers, and can even lay claim to kick-starting the gastropub craze when The Eagle opened in 1991. Around the corner you’ll find another favourite gastropub, The Gunmakers, while The Blacksmith & the Toffeemaker also does great grub and a fine selection of ale and craft beer. It’s also worth meandering through the area’s historic side streets in search of The Dovetail, ensconced in Jerusalem Passage, for super-strength Belgian beer. If you prefer a cool Pinot Grigio, then head to Noble Rot wine bar and restaurant on Lamb’s Conduit Street. And for a night on the town, there’s the gloriously eccentric Zetter Townhouse and its award-winning cocktail lounge.
When it comes to dining, Clerkenwell is quite the carnivore’s paradise, given its close proximity to Smithfield market, one of the largest and oldest meat markets in Europe. Try Michelin-starred fare at famous ‘nose-to-tail’ dining restaurant St John, or get your steak fix at nearby Foxlow, Chez Mal, Gaucho, and Hix Oyster & Chop House. The vibrant food stalls on Exmouth Market and Leather Lane provide all manner of culinary variety – from burritos to grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken pad Thai to banoffee pie. Do bottomless brunch in style at Bourne & Hollingsworth, tapas at Morito and afternoon tea at The Modern Pantry on St John’s Square – arguably Clerkenwell’s prettiest address.
ART & CULTURE
Make time between wining and dining your way around Clerkenwell to fit in some of London’s best cultural offerings. Clerkenwell has creativity in its DNA, with a dedicated design festival taking over the streets every May. It’s also home to some of the country’s most revered cultural institutions including Sadler’s Wells, the award-winning international dance venue, and Europe’s largest multi-arts venue, the Barbican. This icon of Brutalist architecture may not be to everyone’s taste, aesthetically speaking, but it provides cultural entertainment on a vast scale, from film screenings to free exhibitions, theatrical and dance productions to music workshops. Book a spot on the Sunday tour of the secret indoor tropical conservatory, home to exotic fish and over 2,000 species of plants and trees.
FASHION & SHOPPING
Clerkenwell is filled to the brim with the kind of independent curiosity shops that make shopping for that difficult relative a doddle. There’s quirky gifts and arty publications galore in Magma on Clerkenwell Road, while Persephone Books specialises in out-of-print work by 20th century female writers. Pick up some iconic white and blue homeware at Falcon Enamelware, original mid-century furniture from Forest London and hand-printed cards and stationery from Marby & Elm. For the fashion conscious, The Fold specialises in simple, beautifully tailored pieces for working women, while online retail giant The Idle Man opened its first store last year on Leather Lane and stocks a range of contemporary menswear brands and lifestyle products.