High-class hotel that comes with a budget price.
GORDON BARR enjoys a night in one of his favourite London hotels, The Hoxton, in hip and happening Shoreditch
IT NEEDN’T cost a lot to enjoy the high-life in our capital city. But you don’t always have to compromise on the finer things in life when saving a few pounds.
The Hoxton is a prime example of that and it’s a hotel I have stayed in on several occasions since it opened in 2006.
Not only is it slap-bang in one of my favourite areas of the city, it doesn’t break the bank to book a room there.
On opening, it represented a welcome wake-up call for London’s hotel guests – and a revolution for its hoteliers.
From that moment there was no longer any need to sacrifice style for budget. The Hoxton combines destination sleeping, drinking and dining with rates that start from £1 a night. Yes, that’s right, £1 a night, though you have to be very, very lucky to get that rate. That said, even if you’re paying more than that, it’s still a lot cheaper than most hotels – especially those of this standard. Built on the site of an old car park, set on the fringes of the City and a stone’s throw from Liverpool Street railway station and Old Street tube, The Hoxton was planned meticulously right from the start. Pret a Manger founder Sinclair Beecham’s overriding aim was to create a hotel which could provide stylish, comfortable and affordable accommodation without any of the extortionate extras. The Hoxton applies an easyJet approach to pricing – the earlier you book the less you pay – meaning that five rooms a night are sold for that figure of £1. The standard rates start at £59, rising to £79 and on to a top price of £199, and the rooms are better than I have been offered in many a five-star establishment. They’re not huge, but they are tastefully decorated and designed with everything you need for a pleasant stay.
The corridors leading to the rooms have an industrial look about them, which all adds to the ambience of the hotel. The corridors are mood-lit (by Isometrix) so that each floor has its own colour. Door frames of aluminium keep edges sharp and smart. One of my biggest bug-bears with so many hotels these days is the lack of coffee and tea-making facilities – the basics really. I just can’t understand why some topclass establishments cannot offer these when charging astronomical sums to say there. At the Hoxton you don’t only get ‘real’ coffee and tea in your room, you’re given a carton of milk in your fridge – none of this long-life or sachet malarkey. It also means you can stock up your fridge (which also has mineral water) with other things. There is a flat screen TV for movies and internet, while well-lit en suites are tiled in a glossy, dark chocolate. They boast a walk-in shower and generous vanity area, and all are furnished with fluffy towels, C O Bigelow ‘smellies’ and proper-sized Pears soap. They even encourage you to take these away with you! Outside the bedroom door is fixed a hook from which can be hung the free, room-service breakfast – a Lite Pret bag. Over the six upper floors, each of the 205 guest rooms is cleverly designed to maximise comfort, space and style. Puffy duck-down duvets and 260 thread-count linen cover the beds and their money-no-object mattresses. Sandy walls are mercifully bare of prints and posters, instead etched with a relief study of the City of London’s skyline.
Downstairs there are further touches more typical of London’s pricier hotels. The lobby is furnished with soft leather chairs and settees, and vibrant panels of art, all of which sit before plateglass windows overlooking the constant hum of Great Eastern Street. The lobby opens on to The Grill restaurant and bar where you can order cocktails and tasty grub to be served in the diner or outdoors in the courtyard. With red leather booths and a feel of New York City, this is a great place for business or pleasure. DJs keep the lobby busy on the weekends and The Grill serves food until midnight. The Hoxton remains terrific value for money and I just wish that more hotels would follow suit.