Courthouse Hotel Shoredtich: Boutique hotel built from Kray gangsters’ jail

The entrance of the Courthouse Hotel. Photo: Jarek Klocinski

The entrance of the Courthouse Hotel. Photo: Jarek Klocinski - Credit: Archant

Emma Bartholomew travels down to Shoreditch for a night in an old magistrate’s court, where the Kray brothers were once held in the cells

Tthe Kray twins Ronnie (left) and Reggie, Britain's most notorious gangsters who were imprisoned in

Tthe Kray twins Ronnie (left) and Reggie, Britain's most notorious gangsters who were imprisoned in 1969. - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Judging by the grandeur of Old Street’s newest boutique hotel, it’s hard to imagine that at one time the East End’s most notorious gangsters – the Kray brothers – were banged up in the cells here.

The Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch has undergone a £40m transformation into five star luxury.

It wasn’t like this for Ronnie and Reggie when they were detained at Her Majesty’s Pleasure.

The Grade II listed building was the Old Street Magistrates’ Court from 1903 until 1996 and a police station until 2008.

The entrance lobby at the Courthouse Hotel. Photo: Jarek Klocinski

The entrance lobby at the Courthouse Hotel. Photo: Jarek Klocinski - Credit: Archant


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Back in the day there was accommodation for a “married inspector” on the first floor of the eastern half of the building and rooms for 40 single men on the second and third floors.

The western half of the building meanwhile contained two courtrooms, with a grand public entrance in Old Street.

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The only place the two buildings interconnected was through the ground-floor cells where 18 men and 11 women could be incarcerated.

You can get inside five of these cells now, which have been converted into private drinking booths in which you sit behind the old menacing heavy wooden doors.

The lobby at the Courthouse Hotel. Photo: Jarek Klocinski

The lobby at the Courthouse Hotel. Photo: Jarek Klocinski - Credit: Archant

The inside has been decorated with graffiti-style paintings of fantasy inhabitants like the Krays, and strangely, Banksy.

They’re at the back of the former Courtroom Number 1 which is now a casual dining restaurant.

The place was pretty quiet when we went for dinner on New Year’s Day, but had apparently been heaving the night before when the uber trendy “secret bar” Nola hosted a cocktail soireé.

Food is simple and hearty. I had a goats’ cheese salad while my friend chose smoked salmon, before we both tucked into fish and chips for mains, and a sticky toffee pudding for dessert.

The terrace bar at the Courthouse Hotel. Photo: Jarek Klocinski

The terrace bar at the Courthouse Hotel. Photo: Jarek Klocinski - Credit: Archant

Period features like the original courtroom wood panelling and restored stained glass windows add grandeur.

For a more fine dining experience, the Judge and Jury restaurant has just opened in the other courtroom where breakfast is served and writer Joe Orton stood accused of stealing books from Islington library.

The Kray twins - Reggie and Ronnie - were also charged here with demanding “money with menaces”.

We stayed in an Xscape – one of the hotel’s 128 rooms. It has a huge top-end bathroom where you can watch TV in the bath with all the channels you could wish for.

The pool at the Courthouse Hotel. Photo: Jarek Klocinski

The pool at the Courthouse Hotel. Photo: Jarek Klocinski - Credit: Archant

The bed is huge too and so comfy I could have slept for a week.

There can’t be many hotels which can boast of having a subterranean bowling alley but there’s one here and it costs £45 an hour to hire.

There’s also a luxurious basement spa with sauna, steam room and an “endless” pool where it’s quite amusing to try and reach the end against the current – I couldn’t do it.

All too soon our stay came to an all-too-sudden end - something Reggie and Ronnie didn’t have a problem with.

The bowling alley at the Courthouse Hotel. Photo: Jarek Klocinski

The bowling alley at the Courthouse Hotel. Photo: Jarek Klocinski - Credit: Archant

A stay in the Xscape King bedroom costs from £319 a night.

335-337 Old Street, EC1V 9LL

For more information email Shoreditch@Courthouse-hotel.com or call 0203 3105555

An Xscape room at the Courthouse Hotel. Photo: Jarek Klocinski

An Xscape room at the Courthouse Hotel. Photo: Jarek Klocinski - Credit: Archant

www.shoreditch.courthouse-hotel.com

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