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The Über-Cool Urban Lodge
The Hoxton Hotel (London)
Member Name: Hishyeness
The Hoxton Hotel (London)
Date: 07/04/11, updated on 07/04/11 (128 review reads)
Advantages: Great balance of budget and luxury. Efficient service. Funky décor.
Disadvantages: None to speak of
It's not often that I resent being put up in a hotel for the night. However, when the stay(s) in question come in the middle of a tortuous month-long deal negotiation that involves fourteen hour days, several all-nighters, and an intimate knowledge of most of the take-away establishments in our corner of London's Square Mile, staying over becomes a necessary chore rather than a pleasure in of itself. That said, over the course of the last three weeks, I have stayed at the Hoxton Hotel nine times and now know the place inside out - to the extent that I have invented a bingo game based on the rooms I have been assigned during my various stays.
First things first. Apparently, the Hoxton is not a hotel, but rather, an "Urban Lodge". Situated in über-cool Shoreditch, on the fringes of the City, the marketing bods have even to reversed the last "N", ostensibly to add to its chic cachet. That said, gimmicks aside, the Hoxton is rather different from its competitors in the immediate area (Travelodge. Holiday Inn Express, Crowne Plaza Shoreditch and the Hilton Islington are all within reach and at a similar price point). It's strap-line is "Luxury where it matters, budget where it counts" and, on every level, it measures up very well against this claim. My place of work has a corporate rate of £139 per night (before VAT), but, apart from its periodic (and well documented) £1-a-night room sales (which I have never managed to take advantage of) their rack rate is a reasonable - for central London - £169 per night.
You notice the difference in emphasis and style as soon as you walk in the front entrance. The lobby area is a wide open and high-ceilinged space that accommodates some widely spread seating areas, large rustic wooden tables and a roaring fireplace, as well as the discreet reception area and the Hoxton Grill - an excellent, American style bistro that, as expected, majors heavily on meat and is usually heaving later in the week. In keeping with the "urban" theme, staff are dressed in checked shirts reflecting the predominantly brown, yellow and grey motif. Check-in is quick and efficient, and staff will explain the workings of the hotel if its your first stay. You'll get an electronic card key and a card with your room number scribbled on it.
The décor is quite funky, with exposed brickwork and piping, lots of metal and bold, coloured lighting. Rooms are sleek, relatively minimalist and polished, with a double or twin bed configuration adorned with the hotel's signature "Rock, Scissors, Paper" cushions and a stylised representation of a London landmark on the wall (St Paul's mostly). Tea and coffee-making facilities are provided, along with a carton of fresh semi-skimmed milk in the fridge. You are also given two bottles of Prêt-a-Manger still spring water for free - which makes a refreshing change from the usual hotel practice of charging you an arm and a leg. I found the beds very comfortable, although the pillows are a little too soft for my liking, and the bedside lamps don't offer much help if you're planning to read for a bit.
There is a desk in every room, above which is a large fold-out mirror and a 28" flat-screen LCD TV with a generous selection of channels, although the picture quality is not particularly clear. The desk has a drawer, which is always left open when you enter the room, that holds a pencil, bottle opener, coffee and tea, a hairdryer and a guide to the immediate area around the hotel. Wardrobe space is limited -it'll do for a couple of days, but much more than that would prove a stretch. Soft drinks, snacks and small bottles of wine are available at reception, but, rather astonishingly, they are no more expensive than what you would pay in the convenience stores across the street.
As part of the service, you also get proper down duvets, leather headboards, free WiFi everywhere in the hotel, and a free hour of phone calls to most places. The bathrooms are functional but stylish, with nice, fluffy white towels, toilet paper that's kind to your derriere, a generous bar of Pears soap, and complimentary toiletries. However, the best part is that the Hoxton has dispensed with the bath, and replaced it with a very nice tiled shower enclosure with a rain head shower and a separate hosed nozzle to help you get to (ahem) hard to reach areas. Even the bathroom mirror is treated so it doesn't steam up.
Carrying on the Prêt theme (the Hoxton is owned by Sinclair Beecham who also co-owns the sandwich place), whilst a typical £20 hotel buffet breakfast is not included in the rate (the Hoxton Grill do a £10 All English or a £5 bacon butty) you do get a "light" breakfast which includes 250ml of freshly squeezed orange juice, a banana and a pot of granola topped yoghurt and fruit compote in the morning. The system is quite cool (well, it would be, wouldn't it?). There is a brown paper bag on the desk. You simply tick off whether you want breakfast for one or two, and what time you want it (between 6am and 9am), place the bag on a hook outside your door, and viola! it's there in the morning.
A LITTLE BIT DIFFERENT
The owners have made a real effort to break normal hotel conventions - such as heading the bill "the Damage", doing away with mini-bars, and making their in-room signs humorous and irreverent (ex. each one is headed "Stupid Sign No...), but it's not change for the sake of it. They have really struck the right balance between providing the extras people actually want, and cutting back on the things they don't. For me, the most important thing was to get a good night's sleep before battle commenced again the following day, as well as the efficiency of check-in and check-out. Trust me, when you roll up at 4:30am after sixteen straight hours of hard bargaining, the last thing you want is some trainee in the graveyard slot pfaffing around trying to get your room sorted (Hilton Islington, take note!).
Staying at the Hilton up the road on a number of other nights (when the Hoxton wasn't available at short notice) provided an excellent contrast and reference point, and pound for pound on value, service and facilities, the Hoxton would win every time. It doesn't have a gym or pool of its own, but you can use a local partner for a fiver, its location on Great Eastern Street, near Old Street station gives it excellent transport links (Liverpool Street is also a 10 minute walk away), and the "Internet Café" in reception, which has a variety of different sized Apple Macs, is free to use (although they are always busy). Having experienced excellent and consistent quality, and value for money in nine of its 205 rooms, I can't recommend it highly enough.
The Hoxton Hotel
81 Great Eastern Street
London EC2A 3HU
020 7550 100
Check-in from 14:00
Check-Out at Noon
Late check-out at £5 per hour until 16:00
Luggage storage available
Front entrance is NOT in Congestion Zone
Rear Entrance (Willow Street) IS in Congestion Zone
There is no on-site parking
All major credit cards accepted
Room service available (though very limited overnight)
© Hishyeness 2011
Summary: An excellent, well-sited and value for money hotel, especially for overnight and short stays.