Tried & Tested

Hotel review: The Hoxton, Chicago

1 Dec 2019 by Jenni Reid
Hoxton Chicago

Background

The Hoxton brand was founded by Sinclair Beecham, co-founder of Pret a Manger, in 2006. Business Traveller interviewed Beecham the following year and reviewed the first hotel in Shoreditch.

In 2011, the Hoxton was acquired by UK-based developers Ennismore, which has opened two more London hotels (in Holborn and Southwark), and expanded to Amsterdam, Paris, New York (Williamsburg), Portland, Downtown LA and Chicago. Befitting their origin in hipster-hub Shoreditch, they are all stylish hotels that attract a cool crowd.

The group is currently rolling out a co-working concept across its properties called “Working From_”  and recently announced that guests will be able to customise their arrival and departure time during booking at no extra cost. You can also book a room for the day, from 10am to 4pm.

Hoxton hotels to offer flexible check-in and check-out times

What's it like?

The hotel is in a building that was once filled with meatpackers and mechanics, exemplifying the surrounding Fulton Market neighbourhood’s regeneration (or, put another way, gentrification).

The bottom levels have a red brick exterior, on top of which a grey brick extension takes it up to 12 floors, while numerous large windows have smart black frames. Local firm GREC Architects led the refurbishment, while AvroKO designed the public spaces. The hotel opened in April 2019.

Stepping into the lobby, it’s immediately clear how much thought has gone into the decor. The room is adorned with numerous plants; the rugs, sofas, chairs and pillows feature various textiles and patterns; the walls are a light green with wood panelling; floor-to-ceiling windows let in light while a large open fireplace adds cosiness. Custom artworks curated by gallerist Anna Cerniglia are dotted around the property and are intended to showcase “the creative reach of Chicago’s art community”. The whole space feels luxurious and welcoming.

The Hoxton Chicago

Ahead of you when entering is a little lounge and a table with some newspapers. To the left is a large bar area, which extends out of sight into a restaurant, and to the right is a counter selling coffee and smoothies. Further in on the right is the reception.

I was greeted at reception warmly, if briefly, and told that wifi and a light breakfast option were complimentary.

Hoxton Chicago

When I arrived on a Saturday evening the bar was buzzing, as were the ground-floor and rooftop restaurants. That night, it provided a good way to feel as though I was out in the city even though I was too jet lagged to actually leave the hotel.

However, on the Sunday afternoon the hotel’s popularity was less appealing. I had a few hours to kill until my taxi to the airport and it was pouring with rain so I just wanted to sit inside on my laptop, but the main lobby was so busy that I ended up giving up my seat for an elderly couple and having to venture outside anyway.

Hoxton Chicago

Still, most of the time I really liked the open-plan reception/lounge/bar space. The above picture was taken early Sunday morning when a log fire was roaring, the smell of fresh coffee filled the air and the lobby was an oasis of calm.

Also, had the flexible check-out option been available when I stayed (it launched a couple of weeks later) it would have solved this issue.

Where is it?

North Green Street in Fulton Market, the former meatpacking district in the west of Chicago that’s fast-gaining trendy restaurants, bars and offices. Next door to the Hoxton is a WeWork above a craft brewery, and Google has a seven-floor office a street over. Wandering around, you may also notice a sweet smell coming from the nearby chocolate factory.

Fulton Market

Rooms

The 182 rooms come in three sizes: Snug (19 sqm), Cosy (21 sqm) and Roomy (28 sqm). All fit two people, but in a Snug room you’ll get a queen-sized bed, in a Cosy you’ll get a king or two singles, and in a Roomy you’ll get a king and extra storage.

The design is a bit more minimalist than downstairs but still very stylish. Bare concrete ceilings pay homage to the building’s industrial origins but below this things get more plush, with dark leather headboards, brass lamps, two-tone wall paint and custom bedding by Chicago-based artist Cody Hudson.

Hoxton Chicago

There’s also a vintage-style wooden cabinet, velvet pouffe, full-length mirror, chair and lamp. No rooms have desks, although it would be possible to work from the chair, and the whole hotel has free, fast wifi that’s easy to connect to.

Request a room on a higher floor if possible, as you’ll get great views over the city. This area has few skyscrapers so the Hoxton is among the best vantage points.

Hoxton Chicago

Pictured below is the storage that was available in my Cosy room. It was adequate for one night as I could put my small suitcase on the marble top cabinet and hang a few items next to it. It’s a good set-up since with a wardrobe the space would feel more cramped. But if you’re here for a longer stay and want to unpack, I’d upgrade to a Roomy room.

Hoxton Chicago

The hotel I’d stayed at the night before had no drinks-making facilities, so it was a relief to see a loaded tea tray. This provided Cru Kafe coffee bags (I’d not seen these before, but they brew in water like a teabag would) plus English breakfast and herbal teas by Thrive Farmers. The teas come in those fancy mesh bags that apparently release microplastics into your cup, but I do think taste nicer. Fresh milk is complimentary, so it’s actually possible to make yourself a decent tea, which I attribute to the British ownership.

Hoxton Chicago

Next to the tea tray was a little booklet that tells you about the Hoxton brand, outlines the dining and leisure options (more on which below) and tells you about the events that are on.

It also lets you know that check-out is at 12pm, which can be extended for $10 an hour. I’m not sure how this will be affected by the new flexi-booking scheme. If you’re in a rush to leave, you can fill out your details on a card, drop in into a postbox in the lobby and have your bill emailed to you.

Hoxton Chicago

Like the main bedroom, the bathroom was small but very nicely designed. There was a big mirror, good lighting, a marble-top sink, an excellent rain shower, plenty of towels and full-size shampoo, shower gel and conditioner by Blank.

Food and drink

All guests have the option of a complimentary “breakfast bag”. You’re given a little piece of card which you hang on your door handle before bed to indicate you want one. Staff then come around some time in the early hours and replace this with a paper bag containing a bottle of juice, a piece of fruit and a pot of overnight oats (a sort of cold porridge with berries mixed in.)

Hoxton Chicago

For some people this will be a light breakfast, but they do tell you this in the information book, and fuller meals are available a la carte downstairs. I thought it was a really nice way to line my stomach first thing. I’m not sure exactly when my bag arrived but it was there when I looked just after 6am. I then bought a coffee to go at the lobby coffee shop.

Hoxton Chicago

There are two restaurants, one on the ground floor and one on the rooftop. Cira, on the ground floor, serves meals throughout the day, plus a weekend brunch menu. Cabra Cevicheria, pictured below, is a Peruvian restaurant that’s open for lunch and dinner. Since I was on a short stay I didn’t get a chance to eat at either. I did stick my head into Cabra Cevicheria on the Saturday evening and it was as packed as downstairs was.

Cira restaurant, Hoxton Chicago

In the basement is Lazy Bird, a speakeasy-style cocktail bar which is open daily from 5pm to 2am. There is generally live music at the weekend.

Room service is available to order by phone all day.

Cabra, Hoxton Chicago

Business

Chicago is the first Hoxton to debut the group’s new co-working space concept (see some pictures here). It offers library desks, ergonomic chairs, wireless charging points, armchairs, daybeds and communal spaces. Access is on a pay-per-month basis, or you can pay $30 a day for a desk.

All Hoxton hotels have meeting spaces, and the Chicago property has five rooms with 55-inch TVs, natural light and catering. These lead onto a kitchen stocked with drinks, pastries and snacks.

As mentioned, there’s free wifi throughout the hotel and the lobby would be a good place to work, but be warned it may be too busy to do so over the weekend.

Hoxton Chicago meeting room

Leisure

Instead of a gym, the hotel has a studio which puts on yoga and other fitness classes. There’s also a nice rooftop pool, although it is more for relaxing on a summer’s day than serious exertion.

Look out for pop-up exhibitions and shops in the lobby as well as the calendar of events and talks.

Hoxton Chicago rooftop pool

Verdict

A beautifully-designed property in an interesting area that’s a little outside of the city centre but has plenty of nearby shops, bars and restaurants. Features like the yoga studio, rooftop pool, breakfast bag, flexible check-in/out option and custom artworks give it a unique feel.

This hotel might not be to all our readers’ tastes; those who require a desk or prefer a quieter lobby bar, for example. But Hoxton hotels have some great benefits, not least that you get lovely rooms in city centres at reasonable prices. ‘Cosy’ rooms in Chicago start from $89/£70 a night, and in London Southwark a ‘Shoebox’ room starts from £80, which is seriously good value for such a good brand in central London.

Fact file

Best for Quality, affordable rooms and public spaces that may be Millennial-oriented but will appeal to all

Don’t miss A drink at Cabra Cevicheria to check out the rooftop view and try a Peruvian-inspired cocktail

Price A Cosy room in December currently ranges from $99 (on a Sunday) to $269 (on New Year’s Eve)

Contact +1 312-761-1700; 200 N Green St, Chicago, IL 60607

thehoxton.com, instagram.com/thehoxtonhotel

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