The Culpeper: The Best Pub Hotel in London
There are about a million hotels in London, England. At least it felt that way when I was trying to book a hotel for our two-years-delayed honeymoon last fall. In reality, there are 1500 hotels across London offering more than 123,000 rooms ranging from capsule bunks near Kings Cross to five-star penthouses in Mayfair. We decided to break up our visit to make the best of the city: The first hotel was a splurge stay at The Laslett in notable Notting Hill and the second was a pub hotel in East London, The Culpeper. The former was a disappointment (an explanation of why merits its own blog post later) while the latter gave me one of the best night’s sleep I’ve ever hard… and it was above a bustling corner pub.
That’s right, a pub.
During my intense research saga of finding the perfect honeymoon hotel, I came across www.stayinapub.co.uk, a website devoted to the pub hotels of the United Kingdom. I didn’t realize pub hotels in London were still a thing — imagining the quaint little inns of yesteryear have gone by the wayside of trendy boutique hotels and mammoth chain accommodations — but NOPE there is a new wave of pub hotels and they are cool! Revamped city inns in London with luxe bathrobes, smart TVs and modern cuisine like The One Tun, The Clerk and Well and The Distillery are just a few I considered booking for our trip.
From the outside, The Culpeper looks like a regular local pub. Sitting on a corner of busy Commercial Street, it straddles two trendy East London areas: Spitalfields, home of the famous market and world-famous-curry-filled Brick Lane, and Shoreditch (a.k.a hipster central and Banksy aficionado beacon). The fun on the first floor is fueled by London craft beers, natural wines and signature cocktails, while the second floor is home to a quieter and more upscale restaurant kitted with turquoise banquets, copper accents and brick walls. The third floor is home to five charming rooms available to travellers wanting to experience the best of East London, just like Adam and I.
At The Culpeper in London, you get a drink at the bar on the house when you check in (and 10 per cent off food during your stay).
Who is Culpeper and why is there a pub named after him?
The Culpeper is an old school pub hotel; there are no elevators or fancy bellman. After checking in at the bar where we downed a bottle of local craft beer, we were handed an antique skeleton key and brought to Room 3 on the third floor. Don’t let the grungy-looking walls scare you — it’s supposed to look this way. The Culpeper takes the shabby chic aesthetic to a whole other level. The plaster walls are treated with paint so that it almost feels like the place might crumble around you, but somehow this makes it cozy? I don’t know how they made it cool, but they did. (And, in case you were wondering, the place is named after 17th-century herbalist Nicholas Culpeper in an ode to the abundance of natural wines and herbaceous cocktails that flow at the bar)
Five rooms for rent
The five rooms are decorated in the Scandi style with sheepskin rugs slung over Alcapoco chairs, Sisal rugs and colourful throws by Mandal Ververi adorning the foot of Hypnos beds. Each room has a Nespresso machine for your first-coffee-of-the-day-fix and a little glass cookie jar that was refilled daily along with reusable glass bottles of fresh and sparkling water. My only major complaint about the guestrooms is the lack of air conditioning. Because we visited The Culpeper in October, we weren’t in need of AC, but with no option to open the windows overlooking noisy Commercial Street, I can imagine the summers months could be impossibly hot on the top floor of this heritage brick building.
Despite the fact that we were sleeping above two floors of restaurant and bar brouhaha we didn’t hear a thing. The restaurant only serves until around 11 pm, so it proved to be a very useful buffer for sleeping. That said, if you like to go to bed at 8 pm, this may not be the spot for you: get out of bed and head downstairs to make some new friends!
Have a look-y at the loo
The gorgeous blue tile made the small but clean bathroom feel stylish and while we both missed a bathtub, it did the job for our three-night stay. I loved the oversized handwash by the sink and the large shampoo and body wash bottles stocked within the standup rainfall shower. The large towel warmer and fluffy towels were more than appreciated.
It’s all in the details: little touches at The Culpeper make a big impact.
Eat (lots), drink (lots) and sleep (well) at The Culpeper
A huge breakfast is included with the price of a good night’s sleep at The Culpeper. Not only is there a great selection of a la carte dishes like the full English breakfast with blood sausage and roasted tomatoes, but there is a full continental buffet complete with fresh-squeezed juices, pastries baked in-house and all the espresso drinks you can manage. Slowly starting the day people-watching commuters while eating harissa eggs on vacation was a highlight.
The pub skews modern British offering up a variety of small plates like beer-battered haddock, pan-fried liver with Madeira and shallots or crispy whitebait with garlic aioli while the restaurant offers heartier mains replete with game meats, fish and vegetables. In the summer the rooftop garden becomes the Piculpeper, a natural-wine-focused bar with a giant pickle statue visible from miles away.
In addition to the bounty at The Culpeper, some of the best bites we had in London were steps away from the hotel.
The Culpeper pub hotel in London
We paid £120 a night at The Culpeper, which included the huge breakfast we devoured every morning — a steal in my opinion! The average rate for a hotel room in London is £136 (more than 200 Canadian dollars), so I was happy to pay the rate for the attentive housekeeping, bountiful a la carte breakfast and Shoreditch-adjacent location. The Culpeper offers lodging ideal for couples or solo travellers who want to make the most of East London’s dining scene, street art and shopping. I know where I’ll be eating, drinking and sleeping on my next visit to London.
The deets on The Culpeper
40 Commercial Street
+44 20 7247 5371