After expanding to Paris, New York, Portland and Chicago (reviewed here) in the past three years, the Hoxton returned to home turf in September with this, its third property in the capital (the others are in Shoreditch and Holborn). The following month the group made its LA debut, while it plans to open in Rome this autumn.
WHAT’S IT LIKE?
Stepping into the ground floor of the 14-storey new-build felt particularly inviting on a late afternoon in December, its glowing lighting and warm buzz providing a welcoming contrast to the biting cold outside.
The whole ground-floor public space is open plan, with reception ahead to the left, all-day restaurant Albie on the far left, a bar on the right, and further seating for relaxing and working in the middle. You can order from Albie’s menu wherever you are sitting. There’s also a street-side terrace at the front of the property for warmer weather. Floor-to-ceiling black steel-framed windows let in plenty of light while lots of greenery, exposed brick and framed art creates an organic, relaxed feel.
The hotel is obviously doing well at attracting local workers and groups of friends as well as guests to this space – whatever the time of day there was a nice hum of activity here with people eating, socialising or tapping on laptops. In fact on the Friday evening I was there I couldn’t find a seat on the ground floor so headed upstairs to the mezzanine bar, which works as an overflow area for people to have drinks or informal one-to-one meetings when downstairs is busy. The stairwell en route is filled with striking artworks.
Adding to the hotel’s local focus is a small retail area in the lobby where you can buy gifts such as stationery, ceramics and candles made by London companies. You can also buy alcoholic and soft drinks from reception at reasonable prices (fridges rather than minibars are provided in the rooms). The staff here, as throughout the property, are friendly and keen to help.
There is a bank of six lifts but three of those are reserved for the brand’s forthcoming co-working space, Working From, on floors seven to 12, which opens on February 3 (this will work on a membership basis and have more than 750 desks, five meeting rooms, a winter garden and wellness studio). One of the lifts is solely for Seabird, the 14th-floor restaurant, leaving two for the room floors, of which one wasn’t working when I visited, which meant quite a wait at busy times.
WHERE IS IT?
On Blackfriars Road, two minutes’ walk from Southwark Underground station – you will pass the Novotel and Ibis Blackfriars hotels on the way. Waterloo and Blackfriars rail stations are both about a ten-minute walk.
The 192 rooms are on floors one to six and are in five categories – Shoebox (average size 15 sqm), Snug (16 sqm), Cosy (17-21 sqm), Roomy (21-26 sqm) and Biggy (35 sqm corner rooms, one on each floor) – the first three of which have queen beds and the other two super-kings. I didn’t see a Shoebox room but even Snug felt decent in terms of space – I didn’t see much difference between that and Cosy (which I stayed in) other than a little more room around the bed. Here is a Biggy room:
Comfortable, stylish and well designed to make the best use of the space, the room interiors combine industrial-chic exposed brickwork, concrete ceilings and brass light fittings with softer touches such as deep-ruby velvet headboards, pale green wooden panelling and floral tapestry cushions. (The industrial theme is continued with the exposed steelwork in the corridors.)
Floors are wooden, there are limited edition prints on the walls curated by Shoreditch’s Jealous Gallery, and a selection of books selected by local people.
All have free wifi and one hour of international calls, a table to work at, 42-inch Samsung TVs, Roberts digital radios, handheld steamers instead of iron/ironing boards, safes, complimentary cartons of water, and tea and coffee (with fresh milk supplied in the fridge). Coat hooks on the walls augment the hanging space in the open wardrobe, and a full-length mirror was placed against the wall next to plug sockets.
Bathrooms are smartly tiled in pale green and have decent walk-in showers, bronze fittings and refillable toiletries by the Hoxton’s own Blank range of toiletries.
My third-floor Cosy room was peaceful with blackout curtains, user-friendly air-con and a pleasant view reflecting both corporate and residential central London, taking in high rises, the Rose and Crown pub, tennis courts and the top of the London Eye.
A complimentary breakfast bag containing orange juice, a pastry from St John Bakery in Borough and an apple is provided for each guest – fill in the card in your room and it will be left outside the door at a time of your choosing. If that’s not enough to kick-start your morning, an à la carte breakfast is served downstairs in Albie.
FOOD AND DRINK
Albie (pictured top) serves an all-day menu that takes inspiration from the French and Italian Riviera, offering both large and small dishes designed for sharing alongside starters and mains.
On the top floor and open for lunch and dinner, Seabird is a seafood restaurant that offers what it claims is London’s longest oyster list (I tried several types that all tasted as if they had been lifted from the sea just before landing on my table).
It’s an attractive, bright space with a large open kitchen, marble-clad raw bar and floor-to-ceiling windows. There are fabulous views of the Thames and many of the capital’s landmarks to be had from the covered outdoor terrace, although it was sadly much too cold and windy when I visited to stand out here for long. It seats 87 people inside and 78 outside, and the bar up here is a good alternative for a cocktail if downstairs is busy.
Small plates such as octopus roll with padron peppers and sobrasada aioli served in a brioche bun (£14.50) and charred baby gem with creamed sweet corn, salsa and hazelnuts (£12) were excellent, and our main for two, New Haven whole John Dory (£58) was grilled perfectly and accompanied by a zesty mojo verde. Service was warm and knowledgeable.
Next to the mezzanine lounge is the entrance to the Apartment, the meeting and event space that is common to all Hoxton properties. Here it comprises six rooms that can hold six to 50 people depending on configuration, some with balcony space. All are stylishly decked out and have access to a communal Pantry area stocked with tea, coffee, pastries, cereals and yoghurts. Or the whole Apartment can be hired for 120 guests standing.
There is no gym but the hotel has an arrangement with Bankside Fit Hub on Southwark Street providing day passes for £10, or else the Thames is nearby for a South Bank jog. The hotel has some bikes that can be used for free during your stay.
A good-value, stylish and buzzy hotel that boasts well thought-out rooms and a great top-floor restaurant.
Internet rates for a midweek stay in February started from £155 for a Shoebox room. Note that bookings are paid for upfront and can only be amended (for a £20 fee), with no refunds for cancellations. Rooms can also be booked for the daytime only (10am-4pm).
32-40 Blackfriars Road; tel +44 (0)20 7903 3000; thehoxton.com