Travel Smart:
London’s Hippest Hotel

Gourmet’s executive editor skips the scene in the lobby to find everything he could want at a great price.
hoxton hotels

W hat you think about the lobby of the Hoxton Hotel probably depends on your age. If you’re under 30 or so, you may find it wonderful, a nonstop, high-decibel opportunity to party down with other youths from around the globe thrilled to find a decent, affordable place to stay in Shoreditch, which has become one of London’s hippest neighborhoods. If you’re over 30, it’s probably best to walk quickly through, with perhaps a sidelong glance at the fireplaces and taxidermy, on the way to your room. Fortunately, once you have reached it, age doesn’t matter. Though they are not huge, the rooms are designed with cheek and intelligence, and you’ll be amazed at what you get for about $200 a night in one of the world’s most expensive cities: Frette sheets, duck-down duvets, free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TV, powerful showers, free milk and water in the fridge, a “breakfast bag” delivered gratis in the morning, and 10-cent-per-minute calls to the U.S. In general, they’ve been able to provide all the things you really care about, while saving money eliminating inessentials. (There’s no booze in the fridge, for example, but it will be delivered very quickly from the bar downstairs upon request.) And the service, while occasionally baffling (our room had an unwanted cot in it, which we asked them to remove; they readily did so—leaving an equally unwanted crib in its place), is cheerful and quick. When the kids in the room next to ours decided to have a late-night bash, we were quickly offered a move to a quieter, and equally nice room down the hall.

The area is replete with under-30-something clubs, as well as some of London’s best galleries and restaurants, including Terence Conran’s new Boundary.

Sertl says: If you’re there on a Sunday, don’t miss the nearby Columbia Road flower market, a neighborhood classic. It’s not just a bounty of pretty blooms and hawkers with Cockney accents, though. Check out all the antique shops behind the stalls, many of which have great kitchenware, garden knick-knacks, and high-end tchotchkes.

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