Sunday, 20 May 2012

The Hoxton Urban Lodge, Hoxton, East London

Shoreditch, London
Monsieur and I love the nightlife of London’s edgy East End but not the epic journey home, so just for once we’ve decided to treat ourselves to a night in a hotel. The Hoxton on Great Eastern Street is a great location, runs regular £1 sales on rooms, and bills itself as an ‘Urban Lodge’ - a home away from home. Perfect, we thought, let's give it a try.

Friday, 6.35
Entering from the street, The Hoxton feels more like a cool club than a hotel - the lobby is teeming with people, mostly trendy Shoreditch types but quite a few City suits too. At the Reception desk we’re greeted by a friendly jeans-clad girl who runs through what’s included in our (very reasonable, pre-paid online) room rate: WiFi, an hour’s UK landline calls and a light Pret breakfast. Amazing!

Oh how we needed that bed
The leather-lined lift sets the tone for the rest of the hotel - sexy, dark, a little louche. As we get out on the fifth floor and make our way along the moodily-lit corridor it feels like we’re in a David Lynch movie. Our room is large, light and plush without being luxurious, feeling more like a private apartment than a hotel.
Cute notes around our room - we don't mind if we do!

We’re certainly made to feel at home by the quirky signs around the room; they’re more like the kind of helpful Post-Its a friend would leave you than the usual stiff instructions we see in hotels.

Another homely touch is the free mineral water and fresh milk in the fridge to which we’re cheerfully encouraged to ‘Just help yourself’. We like.

The view out over the City is superb but we don’t have too long to enjoy it - we’re booked in for dinner at Hoxton Grill downstairs. The restaurant is located off the lobby of The Hoxton but is operated by Soho House Group, and it shows in both the decor (which reminds us of the dining room at Soho House Berlin) and the super-polished but informal service. The menu’s great, a selection of modern American diner favourites with some brasserie classics.

Loved the Hoxton Grill, and our flirt with the waiter
Monsieur 2 keeps it simple with tomato soup followed by steak and chips, both excellent - the soup flecked with shreds of fresh basil, the steak a 10oz rump cooked exactly medium-rare just how he likes it. I try salt beef hash - thick slices of good beef on a fat potato cake, topped with a poached egg - and tiger prawn and chorizo gumbo. I love the glossy, spicy sauce and huge shell-on prawns, but I’m not convinced that the slices of thin sausage aren’t frankfurter rather than chorizo. We’re glad we let our gorgeous, flirty waiter talk us into dessert; the raspberry ripple cheesecake and ultra-decadent banana fudge sundae are fantastic.

Stuffed and a little drowsy we decide to revive with a shower back in our room. The sleek slate-tiled bathroom has a gorgeous rainfall shower, just what we need to bring us back to life before heading out into the night...

The gay scene in this part of London is small but perfectly formed and as edgily unconventional as the area’s fashionable population. We start off at the George & Dragon on Hackney Road, a bric-a-brac stuffed pub playing great music, then move on to the Nelson’s Head up the road. Finally we head for The Joiners Arms, the cool, grimy bar-club. We love the place and only stagger out when the lights go up.

3.16 (ahem)
Quirky touches around our room made us feel right at home
Staying at The Hox was definitely a good idea - we’re falling into bed fifteen minutes after leaving The Joiners not the usual hour-plus. Looks like we’re not the only ones to have sampled the area’s nocturnal delights - many doors on our corridor are displaying the fun ‘Go Away!’ swing-tags and there’s some serious moaning-and-groaning coming from a few doors down...

Saturday, 10.20
Our Breakfast Bags were very welcome first thing.
Thank God we only have to reach out the door to their dedicated hook for our breakfast bags. Granola, juice and a banana, plus fresh coffee from the in-room selection, take the edge off our hangovers.

After a long shower, we’re feeling human again and decide to brave the journey home. Checking out, we realise it’s only the second time we’ve needed to interact with The Hoxton’s staff as guests are left so completely to their own devices. It’s in keeping with the home-from-home ethos but maybe feels a little impersonal.

As we leave, the lobby’s just as buzzing as when we arrived; The Hoxton rocks right around the clock. We’ll certainly consider it for our next night out up East and definitely be back for more fab food and flirting with the staff at Hoxton Grill.

N: The Hoxton
T: 020 75501000
A: 81 Great Eastern Street, London, EC2A 3HU
Our rating:

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Learn more about The Hoxton's £1 sales at

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