The Hoxton

“Trendy budget hotel with an unusual policy on rates”

Review by Fiona Duncan, published 17th May 2009.

The things I do. Forget the Tube to get me to the Hoxton. Instead, I've hitched a ride on the back of a shabby red Sixties tandem. But I'm in good hands: my friend Tom Kevill-Davies at the front end (doing all the work) cycled from New York to Rio via Vancouver in search of great food (amusingly described in his book The Hungry Cyclist).

He knows a thing or two about great food in London, too, and takes me to Cay Tre in Old Street, around the corner from the hotel, a brilliant Vietnamese dive serving the freshest ingredients at knock-down prices.

The Hoxton is all about knock-down prices, too. So much so that its quarterly sale of rooms at just £1 and £29, a clever marketing ploy if ever there was one, attracts half a million worldwide hits in less than 20 minutes.

But is the Hoxton a bargain for all? Book six months in advance and you'll pay a mere £59. Book an earlier date, in the manner of budget airlines, and the price creeps up to a maximum £199. At around £130, to my mind, you no longer have a good deal; anything less: go for it.

And what of the hip-industrial hotel in hip Hoxton itself? It buzzes, like no other budget hotel. The huge ground-floor space, with eagle sculptures soaring above, incorporates sitting areas, bar, open-plan restaurant and internet café.

There are 205 bedrooms, all the same, boxy and unremarkable, but cleverly designed, found along corridors that are straight from 1984 (the book), with anonymous doors set in steel surrounds, and room numbers bathed in an orange glow. Annoyingly, my key card wouldn't work. Beds have Frette linen, and the small granite bathrooms have good power showers.

Then there's the Hoxton's pride and joy – its extras. Free Wi-Fi; Lite Pret breakfast (the hotel's owner, Sinclair Beecham, is also behind the Pret A Manger chain) delivered to your door; fresh milk and water in the fridge; Aveda shampoo and Pears soap in the bathroom.

Well, I can't say I'm reeling at that lot, and a proper breakfast downstairs included in the price, especially if it was anything over £130, would be nice.

More impressive are the phone calls at 3p per minute (5p per minute to the US), as many movies as you want for £7.50 a day, £5 for the use of a local leisure centre, and a 24-hour lobby shop that sells goods at retail rather than hotel prices.

But there's something else you should know, which the Hoxton doesn't trumpet. You have to pay in full on booking and if you cancel there's no refund. If you want to change the date, you pay a fee of £15 and if the room rate is less, you don't get the difference.

Call me an old-fashioned tandem cyclist, but I'd hate to be pinned down like that, and that alone would prevent me from booking this hotel.

81 Great Eastern Street, London EC2 (020 7550 1000; Doubles from £59 to £199. Specially adapted rooms for guests with disabilities.

The Hotel Guru verdict

3 out of 5

Well designed, but anonymous; some good views; net curtains needed in mine

5 out of 5

Young, fun (check shirts, jeans); high quality for a budget place

4 out of 5

Much more lively than most similar establishments; a good place to meet and relax even if you aren't

Food and drink
3 out of 5

Open-plan hoxton grill is pretty good, with a lively atmosphere

Value for money
4 out of 5

That depends on what you are asked to pay

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