Antique Owl

Beady eyed bird looking for collectables and design stuff

Hermitage Rd. & co, Hitchin

Anyone who knows me, will know that I’ve been a fan of Hermitage Road coffee shop in Hitchin for a while now. Despite being attached to a very popular restaurant and bar, the intimate (read: tiny) coffee bar downstairs always felt like a bit of a well kept secret – good quality coffee, good music (usually) and friendly staff.

On top of that, I always found the decor really pleasing; not pretentious, with an industrial, reclaimed style which felt like a little bit of soho in the suburbs. So when I heard that the coffee shop was expanding and would also become a little shop selling all sorts of home decor, I did get pretty excited I can tell you.

The shop has been open for a few weeks now, but I finally made my way there today for a flat white and a nose around. As expected, the decor is still rather lovely, especially in the cafe area at the front…

Hermitage Road cafe

The cafe in itself is really nicely laid out, so you feel as though you are sat amongst the products; this little area at the front of the shop, and directly behind the main window, had a really satisfying mix of tiling (check out that black grout), scaffolding, and beaten-up old industrial furniture.

Hermitage Road coffee

Its really difficult to see in the above picture but I assure you that there is a rather beautiful copper wire light-fitting in amongst that lot – the wallpaper kinda hides it a little bit.

Hermitage Road mid-century

One of the most pleasing things about the shop was the furniture used to display the products, from mid-century style sideboards and shelves, above, to cheap but effective scaffolding like in the below.

Hermitage Rd. & co


I am becoming a bit of a fan of scaffolding and it’s obviously fairly trendy at the moment as you’ll know if you’ve been watching The Great Interior Design Challenge on BBC2. Honestly – if I could move into one of those eco-homes tomorrow I would…

Tassen cups


In terms of what the shop sells I’m going to level with you and say it’s a bit of a mixed bag. While there are some gems, like the gorgeous German Tassen bowls (pictured above), some (well-hidden) Plumen lightbulbs and some nice mid-century-style vases dotted about, theres also a lot of twee – especially as you move further back in the shop.

At the risk of sounding like a bit of a cow, shabby chic, chintzy Cath Kidson-esque prints and “distressed” furniture never really did it for me, and it’s a style which is now ubiquitous on our highstreets. Even bars and cafes are falling upon this “eclectic trend” with old kitsch framed prints, lampshades and mismatched furniture to add interest. I’m glad to see something more interesting making it to the burbs, but I’m also getting a little tired of it already.

So I may have high expectations but I really hoped that Hermitage Rd. would have pushed that industrial look further and followed the lines of their decor a little more rather than falling back on this style.

Some industrial or cafe lamps, Anglepoises, smart kitchenware and witty tea towels that you don’t see anywhere else would have been nice… or maybe I’m just hoping that someone will set up a shop just like Pedlars but within easy distance from my house?

That said I’m probably a bit too much of a critic, and judging by the people coming through the doors, the stock that they have, sells – so whadda I know? In fact I came away with a little something something, this smart black geometric vase, cute eh?

New black geometric vase



2 comments on “Hermitage Rd. & co, Hitchin

  1. Sarah
    November 14, 2014

    I completely agree! There are some lovely pieces, then some hideous signs, scarves, hand held mirrors and loads more shabby chic tat! I wonder if they have different buyers?!!

    • antiqueowl
      November 14, 2014

      I’m not sure! I still like the shop, I guess setting up is a risky business, gotta hedge your bets with the product!

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This entry was posted on November 12, 2014 by in Designer Owling, Owling about town and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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All copy on this blog remains the property of Samantha Villis. Please ask permission copying or re-blogging. I dont bite. Images are my own unless otherwise stated. I try to give credit for images whenever possible.
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