When is a hotel not a hotel? When it’s an “anti-hotel”, of course – and that’s exactly what The Hoxton Hotel in Shoreditch, London, claims to be.
Opened by Sinclair Beecham, one of the founders of Pret à Manger, in 2006, The Hoxton, Shoreditch was the first in a small group of hotels that includes a place in Holborn and another to open soon in Amsterdam.
The Hox, as it is affectionately known, isn’t just about providing a luxury experience without rip-off prices, though: it’s about having fun and surprising guests in the process. Walk in through the front door on Great Eastern Street and you’ll pass between chained-up guard dog statues before entering the lobby, full of comfortable leather seating and a combination of exposed brickwork and retro décor touches. On the right, you’ll find the bar and the restaurant – The Hoxton Grill – and plenty of conferencing facilities at the back of the building. While I didn’t eat in the restaurant during my stay, I enjoyed a few drinks in the bar (which gets VERY busy at the weekends) – although at £4.50 for a small bottle of Aspalls cider, I made sure to limit my intake…
On the left is the hotel reception, staffed by friendly, casually-dressed team members and incorporating a small shop selling sweets and snacks at competitive prices so guests can treat themselves without needing to leave the hotel. Check in was quick and efficient, and, keycard in hand, I headed to the lift, taking in the row of shiny Macs available for guests to use during their stay.
For security, hotel guests need to insert their keycard before being given access to the lift to the rooms – which makes sense, with so many non-residents enjoying the bar and restaurant throughout the day. When I got out of the lift on the third floor, I was faced with a stunningly lit corridor, which certainly made a statement – I believe the colours differ from floor to floor too…
A word of warning when you enter your room, though: the doors at The Hoxton, Shoreditch have a habit of slamming very loudly behind you, which can be a little annoying late at night and early in the morning…
The majority of rooms are designed in pretty much the same style, with a few individual touches such as the designs of the cushions and throws that they feature. My double room was stylish yet relaxing – apart from the huge circular mirror in the wall on one side of the bed. As someone who’s not a massive fan of mirrors, it wasn’t really my cup of tea…
While the room itself was relatively compact, it had everything I needed. Various lighting settings allow you to illuminate your room in a number of different ways, while the mattresses are firm and super comfortable and decked with cushions, perfect for propping yourself up to watch TV. I found the pillows to be on the soft side, but it’s a matter of personal taste. There are also two plug sockets on each side of the bed – a feature that bugs me when missing from other hotels – and the tall, cushioned headboard certainly makes a statement.
On the other side of the room, the window is covered with both a roller blind and luxurious, thick and heavy curtains, which block out the light perfectly. Noise can be a problem, though: my room looked out onto the glass roof of the hotel’s bar, which can be pretty loud at night. Friends on the other side of the hotel also had issues with noise, thanks to the emptying of glass bottles into the outdoor bottle bin at the end of the night.
Back to the room, and beside the window you’ll find a leather-upholstered armchair, adorned with yet another individually designed cushion, on one side, and a wooden unit on the other that houses almost every single one of the room’s other amenities.
Here you’ll find a large, flat screen TV that can be pulled out and angled for perfect viewing. Above the television, a shelf containing various books – below the television, a pull-out shelf which includes the kettle, Clipper teas and Lyons coffee (including decaf), two mugs and spoons and a little bowl in which to place spent bags. I loved the attention to detail in terms of the design here, too.
Open the other drawers, and you’ll find a hairdryer, a selection of glasses and spare pillows, as well as a digital radio that’ll be playing chillout music on your arrival. And that’s not all: there’s also a compartment within the desk that opens from the top, where you’ll find the television remote, a corkscrew, a pen and paper and a guide to the local area.
Next to the bathroom, a small wardrobe area offers very little hanging space, thanks to the positioning of the room safe: having brought several dresses with me for the weekend, it was a bit of a squeeze. There’s an ironing room on one floor, though, should this be an issue. Below the wardrobe you’ll find your fridge – and unlike in other hotels, you’ll find no pricey minibar here: instead, you’ll simply find 500ml bottles of still and sparkling water along with a carton of milk, all of which are replaced on a daily basis. This also means that there’s plenty of space in which to store any snacks and drinks that you want to buy from outside – or from the competitively priced lobby shop that I mentioned earlier.
What’s more, free high speed WiFi and an hour of free phone calls for every room booking make the Hoxton a great choice for both business and leisure travellers alike.
In the bathroom, the rainfall shower offers a steady stream of perfectly hot water, and the Pen & Ink toiletries are beautifully branded and smell fantastic.
Breakfast is included at The Hoxton, Shoreditch, but it’s a little different to the norm. Every day you’ll be given a new paper bag: simply scribble on the number of people in your room who need breakfast and the time at which you would like it to be delivered and hang it on the hook outside the door to your room: the following morning you’ll be rewarded with a small bottle of orange juice, a banana and a pot of yoghurt with fruit and granola. For me, it was perfect: I could choose whether or not I wanted to eat, or whether to venture elsewhere on London’s food scene to enjoy the first meal of the day.
I spent three comfortable nights at The Hoxton, Shoreditch, in May 2015, and thoroughly enjoyed my stay. The bed was comfortable (bar the incredibly soft pillows), the room small but containing everything I needed, and the relaxed feel making me feel at home. Check out was simple (and available until 12pm, which was a bonus!), and the team were happy to store my bags in a locked room behind reception until I needed to catch my train. This was my second stay at this particular hotel, and while my stay was paid for by the company I was working with, one night stays are priced at between £99 and £299 depending on the room you choose, the date and availability. In my view, it’s well worth the price for what you get.