All week we’re running a special report on London’s hottest up-and-coming neighborhoods. You can find part one on Shoreditch here. Here’s everything that’s happening in Holborn, a neighborhood that is “boring no more.”
It used to be seen as the “boring bit” between the West End and the City, but since London Mayor Boris Johnson rebranded Holborn as “Midtown” in 2010, this central part of London has shifted from being chockablock with offices, to a bustling zone with new hotels, restaurants and nightlife. For visitors, its central location means easy access to Covent Garden, Soho and the theater district, plus the historical British Museum and Royal Opera House, and Oxford Street shopping.
A perceptible shift happened last year with the opening of the luxury Rosewood Hotel on High Holborn, and now with the arrival of the super-trendy Hoxton Holborn in September, the location has become a destination. This latest branch of The Hoxton Hotel, one of the original Shoreditch hotspots when it opened in 2006, has brought the same formula of cool—DJ sets, art installations and inspired events—to Holborn. Like in Shoreditch, The Hoxton has collaborated with the Soho House Group to run the hotel’s restaurants and spa area.
Even early on a Monday morning, the lobby was already humming with an expectant air: beside the front desk, young media-types sat on low sofas clicking away on MacBook Airs, a hipster power breakfast happening in the American-style Hubbard & Bell restaurant—a fashionable crowd, iPhones in hand, sipping bright green cold-pressed juices, likely before heading off to meetings at Google or Yahoo!, which have offices nearby. The setting is mid-century meets industrial chic, colored Eames chairs and yellow leather booths surround wooden tables, nicely popping against white-painted brick walls. Hubbard & Bell spills into the lobby with a bar area, which was so busy when the hotel first opened that they had to force a line. Other dining options include Holborn Grind for coffees and, in the basement level, a branch of the successful Chicken Shop, open for lunch and dinner, serving rotisserie free-range chicken and fixings.
The hotel has 174 rooms in four different categories; Shoebox, Snug, Cosy and Roomy. Each cleverly designed and much nicer than we expected at prices currently ranging from approximately $112 to $435. Beds are outfitted with puffy duck-down duvets and 280 thread-count sheets; we loved the brown leather headboards and whimsical throw pillows with “#” symbols. Bathrooms are tiled in black and white with walk-in showers furnished with fluffy towels and a custom range of Pen and Ink amenities. The Hoxton brand is all about embracing the community, so they commissioned an art student from the nearby St. Martins College of Art and Design to create and frame prints for each room. The charming wallpaper is also custom-designed, with drawings of English bulldogs and Charles Dickens, by a local designer.
|Hoxton Holborn offers four accommodation categories; this is one of its Snug rooms.|
We saw “Cosy” room #128, which was comfortable enough for two people; the inventive space to store luggage beneath the bed helps! Other perks we love about Hoxton, the “no rip-off policy”: mini-fridge in every room with free milk and water, the Front Desk sells snacks at normal shop prices; free Wi-Fi and a free hour of calls; and our favorite freebie, a breakfast bag filled with yogurt, granola, banana and an OJ delivered to your door.
Nightly events, from poker classes and readings by best-selling novelists to DJs and fitness classes, are organized under the “Hoxtown” moniker and held in The Apartment, a series of unconventional meeting rooms off the lobby that can be rented out for private functions of up to 250 people. For a bit of respite with an edgy style, there’s a nail salon, The Cheeky Parlour, also an import from Shoreditch, with pink neon on the walls, six nail stations and three pedicure chairs.
|The Cheeky Parlour, a nail salon, offers a brief respite from a London getaway.|
While there is no official concierge, the friendly front-desk team is on hand to offer advice and give out the handy “Hoxtown Guide to Holborn,” a useful pocket-size guide-cum-map with suggestions on food and drink, culture, shopping and beauty. Tips are available online at www.hoxtown.com/guide as well, and include unusual ideas from a visit to the Hunterian Museum, which houses 400 years of medical history, including severed limbs and skeletons, to a rousing game of ping pong at hotspot Bounce.
Travel agents can reach out to General Manager Toby Garden ([email protected]) with any queries.
Stay tuned to www.travelagentcentral.com for the rest of our London’s Hot Neighborhoods Special Report, where we’ll be covering Shepherd’s Bush and top London day trips.