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Review: The Counting House, London

Review: The Counting House, London

It’s fitting that in the middle of London’s financial centre, you’ll stay overnight in a converted bank. The Counting House was originally designed by H.C. Boyes and built in 1893 as Prescott’s Bank and was subsequently home to Dimsdale, Fowler and Company, National Provincial Bank, eventually becoming a part of the National Westminster Bank in 1970. BritMums stayed here to see how financial history translates into a comfortable stay — read our review to see what we liked, what we didn’t and how the food is in this historic pub with rooms.

Now you can eat and drink under its grand rotunda, with some original tiling, galleried nooks where you can imagine tellers once sitting and upstairs mezzanine for the really moneyed class. Now the mezzanine is a great place to have supper. The Counting House really delivers by being so distinctive, with visual personality.

I found The Counting House via Stay in a Pub, a great site for finding interesting pubs with rooms. My stay was organised by Stay in a Pub. Book The Counting House and find loads of other great pubs with accommodations on StayinaPub.co.uk.

The Counting House | 50 Cornhill | London EC3V 3PD www.the-counting-house.com

The rooms at The Counting House London

bedroom at The Counting House
room sign at The Counting House

The 15 rooms are situated in an area of the building that was once a gentlemen’s club established in 1895 (the kind with cigars, not Champagne rooms). I loved that the rooms were all named after coins: tuppence, farthing, shilling, florin, even tilbury — a shipwreck treasure coin.

These names are a small detail but it’s the kind of interesting element that when staying with kids or teens could prompt all manner of conversations about money, how it changes over time, physical money versus electronic forms and so on. I daresay you could even sneak in a teaching moment about saving and spending. (My daughter, always alert to the merest whiff of parenting, shuts these down immediately but clever parents could engineer it.)

As an example: There were 20 shillings to a pound and each was worth 12 pence — a value that probably seems daft to kids today. But tell them that originally 240 silver penny coins actually weighed one pound. Imagine how heavy the pennies would be to buy some trainers or their Xbox! And while 1971 might seem like ancient history to them, you could remind them how recently the UK changed to the current decimal system by telling them your age or their grandparents’ age when it happened.

Personally, I’d love to get a list of the room names and challenge the kids to put them in order of value to see who has the best guesses, or get them to figure out the cost of the pub’s fish and chips using your room’s coin.

Our stay at The Counting House

guest room at The Counting House London
A view of Shilling, our room at The Counting House

We stayed in Shilling, a twin room, with 2 comfortable beds and a small sitting area with a love seat. It had a lovely view over rooftops and the tower of the neighbouring Grade 1 listed St Michael’s Cornhill church, which survived the Great Fire of London in 1666. (The church itself did not, and was rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren.)

Our room, while in a converted space, still featured a proper-sized bathroom with full-size tub and room to move around and relax. There are also family rooms and doubles.

It would work well for couples with a baby (there’s a diminutive lift for getting up to the hotel reception area, then stairs to access the different rooms). I’d love to stay with my teenager.

a selection of dishes from The Counting House

Review of The Counting House pub food

The main room under the rotunda is busy and very lively. There’s seating on the gallery above the main room and several smaller rooms for dining off the main one. You’ll find pub favourites (burger, fish and chips), but for us the standout was the Mini traditional East End meat shortcrust pie. Tasty pastry and rich and delicious filling served with mash and red wine gravy — highly recommended! We ordered the small starter size of the meat pie and the Mini roasted cauliflower & Lincolnshire Poacher shortcrust pie along with Sharer Nachos (melted cheese, roasted tomato salsa, guacamole, sour cream, jalapenos) and a side of Braised leeks, hispi cabbage, peas. It was more than enough for two.

They also have plant-based nachos, a plant-based burger and a Chicken Tikka Masala, coconut & coriander pie that sounded particularly intriguing.

A delicious pie at The Counting House London
The mini East London meat pie was fantastic

What to do in the City with kids

We loved being able to enjoy the bustle of the pub, then retire to the quiet room, modern and stylish. You could easily stay 2 days and 1 night or 2 nights and use it as a base to explore the history of the City and Tower Hill along with the funky delights of nearby Shoreditch. I could see visiting with my teen, going exploring in the morning, having an interesting lunch then coming back to relax on the love seat or recline to admire the rooftops out the window and doze, then popping downstairs for a refreshing drink and going out again — to a tour at Tower Hill or a Jack the Ripper walk.

view of church through window at The Counting House London
A view from our window

What we didn’t like about The Counting House London

There were a few small niggles: There was a full-length mirror in our room — an essential especially for women — but it was mounted on a wall next to the bed, which made it hard to step back and see your entire outfit. I wish they’d put on an open space between the desk and love seat. Also, I could not find a hairdryer in the room. I’m sure they could have sorted me out if I’d called down but we were eager to get down to the pub so I did without.

Our verdict about staying at The Counting House

There are so many hotels, well-furnished and comfortable, that substitute flash or dependability for charm. This is one of several Youngs pubs I’ve stayed in and they all seem to take care to provide a stylish comfortable stay that still strives to be individual and welcoming. In that sense, the Counting House is a rarity, a welcoming affordable stay in the middle of London — in an area that bustles during the week and is quiet on the weekends.

Overall, you feel like you’re in the middle of the beating heart of the City with its rich culture and heritage but still have a clean, comfortable and quiet refuge in a wonderfully historic building.

Verdict: An interesting and historic former bank building in the City that won’t empty your pockets.

hanging closet and luggage rack in room at The Counting House, London
We like: Ample hanging space & a luggage rack

Amenities we loved:

  • Full-size bathtub
  • Kettle and coffee machine
  • Full-length hanging rail
  • Full-length mirror
  • Radio with Bluetooth for playing music from your phone
  • Nice complimentary toiletries, including conditioner for your hair
  • Folding suitcase rack
  • Desk
  • Sitting area with love seat
  • Comfortable beds
  • Effective heating and air-conditioning
  • Iron in the room

Book The Counting House and find loads of other great pubs with accommodations on StayinaPub.co.uk.

BritMums’s overnight stay (but not food and drink) was complimentary. All opinions are our own.

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About Jennifer Howze

Jennifer Howze is the Creative Director and co-founder of BritMums. She blogs about family travel at Jenography.net, tweets at @JHowze and Instagrams at @JHowze. Previously, she wrote the Alpha Mummy blog at The Times and as a journalist has contributed to The Times, The Guardian, The Independent, The Wall Street Journal, Travel & Leisure, Budget Travel, CNN.com, Allure, SELF and Premiere, among others. She won The Maggie Award from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America for a health article in Seventeen magazine.