It took the movers two whole days to pack up my flat in London. 98 boxes later, it was time to say goodbye. This is serious stuff, this moving business, which I hope you can gather from the photo below. An entire SHIPPING CONTAINER. My thanks to the lovely folks at Interdean for doing all the heavy lifting. My movers Glen and Jason were veterans of the business, congenial and karaoke all-stars. They knew every word to every song on the radio, although they admitted they were tired of Lady Gaga.
Once my bed was packed up, it was time to move residences. So I moved into The Hoxton Hotel on Great Eastern Street in Shoreditch or, well, "City Borders." And you know what…with only one exception which was an extenuating circumstance…the Hoxton Hotel is now my favorite hotel IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. (My other favorite hotel in the entire world is The Four Seasons, Damascus. But the terrible stomach problems that forced me to decamp to the Four Seasons made me eternally grateful for just about anything during that last night in Syria. And dad, if you're reading this, yes, even in Syria, they have a Four Seasons. They even have–gasp–wifi.)
1. Free Wifi. EVERYWHERE. You might have heard that I bought an iPad while I was in New York in July. How awesome was it to sit down in the bar/restaurant area and just surf the net on my iPad with no passwords and no hassle?
2. Pret breakfast included. (The Hoxton Hotel is owned by Pret a Manger.) They give you a paper bag every night and you note what time you want your breakfast delivered and hang it outside your hotel room door. Wake up in the morning and open the door and there in the bag is a little Pret Pot (yogurt and fruit), a banana, and an orange juice.
3. The sign on the back of the hotel room door. Something like, "We paid £445 to install the safe in your room. Maybe you should use it."
4. The ironing room. I stay in a lot of hotels. And if you're not staying in a big American chain, there's generally no iron in your room. So you have to call down to the front desk and MAYBE they'll have an iron free and will send it to you. But generally, they'll say something like "Sorry but we don't have any irons at the moment." The Hoxton Hotel has dealt with this grandly by simply creating an ironing room. You need an iron? Just go to the ironing room.
5. Two free bottles of water and a little container of milk EVERY NIGHT. How lovely is this? Compare it to the big American chains that want £7 for the bottle of Fiji. The Hoxton Hotel is just GIVING IT AWAY. Awesome.
6. Cheap decent wine at the front desk. I was feeling a little celebratory one night (I stayed at the Hoxton for three nights) so I bought a half bottle of wine from the front desk. It was nice and it was French and above all…it was £4.95! Think about all the minibars out there that charge you something like £25 for a bottle of wine.
7. The price. It was right. That being said, I was on a corporate discount. But still, seriously awesome hotel pricing for London.
8. Free international calls for up to an hour. They must be using VOIP.
9. Pear's soap. I thought this was cute. It was a whole bar of soap, and they give you the box and tell you to please take it home when you leave.
10. Did I mention the free Wifi...everywhere??? (Sorry…still after my free-wifi-all-the-time in Jordan and Syria, I seem to arrive at every restaurant/bar/hotel asking, "Do you have free wifi?")
On the downside, the hotel room wasn't the largest I've ever stayed in, and they really need to do something about the curtains. They have black-out curtains, but none of those gauzy curtains to block out the stares of the office workers across the road. And you know, the room walls were a bit scuffed up, and there was no one to help me with my THREE suitcases when I checked in…and out. But besides for that, this was a great hotel and I will very gladly return. I just need a reason to now, don't I?