Friday, January 6, 2017
Where to Stay in Amsterdam: The Hoxton
I'm no stranger to The Hoxton: John and I first stayed at the Shoreditch location years ago. It was his birthday, and I pretended to grab the bill at the restaurant, while I actually went to the front desk check in, before surprising him with a mini London staycation. We had such a great time in the perfectly proportioned, design-led rooms, that I vowed to go back someday. And I did: for the occasional drink and pop-up event.
Fast forward to a few years later, the Holborn branch of the hotel landed practically on my (work) doorstep in Bloomsbury, and soon, I found myself there grabbing post-work drinks with friends and attending workshops in the "Apartment" events space.
So, when it came to selecting a hotel for me, John, and my parents to stay at during our Amsterdam trip, I only had The Hoxton in mind. I've always loved the ultra-cool, yet non-pretentious vibe of the brand; the comfortable and cozy, but smartly decorated rooms. I even loved the "breakfast in a bag" concept (you leave a paper bag outside the door of your room and it's magically filled with fresh fruit, yoghurt and juice the next morning).
Situated in the former Mayor's house on Herengracht, an upmarket, well-positioned street on the canal, staying at The Hoxton Amsterdam was an absolute pleasure. I can't describe it in any other way.
Like its London counterparts, The Hoxton Amsterdam is undoubtedly cool. Unlike its London counterparts, however, it just might be the coolest of the three.
Its location on Herengracht makes it an ideal location both for the foodie-inclined (me) and the shopping savvy (also, me). Acne Studios is just a 3-minute walk from the front door, for example.
At night, a well-heeled, beautiful crowd - dressed as if straight from the & Other Stories website - descended on the lobby, which had been transformed into a buzzing lounge space, complete with a DJ. And of course, it was decked out in festive gear - the Christmas tree looking like it always belonged there, nestled between the tables and spiral staircase.
At any one time, you might lose yourself and forget you're in a hotel, thinking that you're at some ridiculously cool Dutch house party instead - save that when you want to excuse yourself and retire for the evening, an elevator discreetly located at the back of the restaurant and bar can whisk you to one of the 111 bedrooms waiting upstairs.
Speaking of upstairs, there's seating for light bites and drinks on the mezzanine-level of Lotti's Diner, which is part of the hotel. It's stunning: replete with leather seats and steel-framed windows leading onto a balcony and stairway, respectively. There's a retro photo booth in the corner, where I took turns posing for strips of black and white photos with my mom and dad; a fantastic way to commemorate our trip together.
After returning from a fun (but exhausting) day trip to Cologne for the Christmas markets, we returned (rather gratefully) to the chilled-out vibe of the Hoxton for dinner, where I had this delicious burger and the best truffle fries I've ever tried (other restaurants tend to use a tad too much truffle oil/shavings, but this little number was just right).
Staff at both the restaurant and front desk are super friendly and very enthusiastic, offering directions, bottled water, and maps at the drop of a hat. Despite a small crowd waiting to be checked in on our arrival, I distinctly remember being greeted quickly and cheerfully. Perhaps I've been living in London for too long, but I couldn't get over how nice everyone was!
It was interesting staying at The Hoxton with my parents, who commented (with both incredulity and awe), "There's no one over 40 here!" I think it certainly appeals to a younger crowd, so if you qualify for a senior citizen discount at the Concertgebouw (AKA my parents), then you might feel a bit like a mom or dad crashing their kids' party. But everyone made us feel very welcome and not the least bit self-conscious.
I loved our stay at The Hoxton Amsterdam precisely for the reason that it didn't feel like staying at a hotel - but rather, a (very chic) friend's house. Funnily enough, I'd really wanted to book an Airbnb for our trip but decided in the end that a hotel would be better suited for my parents. The Hoxton was a great compromise in this respect: un-stuffy yet beautifully designed, smart but relaxed, and perfectly sized.
If you're planning a trip to Amsterdam this year, I'd highly recommend it.
We stayed at The Hoxton Amsterdam at a press rate; all opinions are my own.