Cool, Cheap, London, Hotel. Pick any three. Every couple of months we get an email from a far-flung friend or colleague saying something like: “Can you recommend a cool hotel in London that’s not too expensive?” Having lived in London for the past few years, we can say that this is no easy request, especially for those travelling under their own steam (ie: not on expenses) and carrying a weaker currency. And maybe that’s why we’ve been procrastinating posting about London hotels! A couple of months ago our friend John Ryan sent us the usual hotel/London/CanYouRecommend? email. We sent him a bunch of ideas, and he ended up at the Hoxton in Shoreditch. Finally, it looks like we can fill the above request with ease.
So John, tell us a bit about it: The public restaurant/bar area at the Hoxton is beyond hipsters – fairly pricey food (and average, although it is London I guess) and dumb beautiful people giving service. But the hotel side is just lovely. Very friendly staff (like, not ‘Have a nice day’ types… friendly like your friends … conversational, not transactional). There’s also the lovely attitude: when I booked, the invoice had a line item that said something like “Pointless taxes” with a “0″. When I checked out, the account was headed “The Damage”. And every little sign and instruction had that same tone and voice. A sticker on the window showing you how to open it was titled “Stupid Sign #41″…
Cheap & Cheerful Dinner: Cay Tre: Cool, reasonably priced and very tasty Vietnamese restaurant which offers the usual classics plus some more original house specials, eg: a quail and aubergine curry hot-pot (yum). (301 Old St, EC1V 9LA; Tel: 020 7729 8662) Or try their unimaginatively named but more glamorous premises nearby at Viet Grill. Drinks: for a casual sporting atmos, try Bar Kick, featuring table foot and reasonably priced cocktails; for speakeasy with a jazz twang, try The Night Jar. A cool night out: Bistroteque: hipster restaurant and bar in Hackney (take a cab). The bar is like Cuba circa 1960. The restaurant is a white, concrete loft with some of London’s cutest looking waiters. They have good menu du jour deals for early diners. Book ahead. Ideally combined with an art gallery hop along Vyner St as part of First Thursday openings. (23-27 Wadeson St, E2 9DR; Tel: 020 8983 7900.)
ABOUT JOHN: John Ryan is a travel content veteran and all round digital guru. He was the managing editor of Lonelyplanet.com and the site received several Webbys during his tenure. He also co-authored the very odd and shamelessly eccentric Micronations about real life non-UN recognised countries, such as the self-proclaimed empire, the Republic of Whangamomona, where the presidency was shared between a poodle and a goat. These days John can be found in Melbourne where he runs his own website strategy agency, the hiply named Sitegeist. He also does a mean air guitar.