Walking into The Hoxton in Paris’ 2nd Arrondissement, I checked and then re-checked my Google map to make sure my Uber dropped me in the right location. As any smartphone equipped traveler may know, it’s easy to get sucked into the specific instructions of a robotic GPS voice, or worse, trust a rideshare service to take you to a place you’ve never been before, without actually gaining a sense of place. The first time I arrived in Paris, fresh off the RER train from Orly Airport, I carefully navigated the curving streets to find an address I’d scribbled down in an empty Moleskine journal, a journal I’d hoped to fill with observations about the city.
But as of this past fall, I felt familiar enough with Paris and unwaveringly confident in my iPhone to dedicate half as much attention to navigating the city. Which is how I arrived, confused, standing in the shadow of a swooping spiral staircase, across from a marble-topped bar, where a bearded bartender shook up various hues of cocktails. In ripped jeans and a T-shirt, I felt severely underdressed (and overtly American in what seemed to be a sea of Parisians) and embarrassed to be lugging a suitcase, backpack and shoulder bag in the hyper stylish space. But before I could re-confirm I was in the wrong place, a woman in a henley shirt offered to help with my bag, guiding me past chic, velvet tufted furniture and an inner courtyard to a concealed check-in desk. I was in the right place — and it was unlike any other boutique hotel. I had, after all, discovered this place and its signature black and white gridded sheets on a fashion influencer’s Instagram, and everything was starting to add up: The anti-hotel hotel has arrived.
The Hoxton, which has properties in London, Amsterdam, Brooklyn, Portland, and soon in Downtown LA and Chicago, is redefining the boutique hotel experience to lure Airbnb-minded millennials into impeccably designed, immensely cool spaces that locals actually want to hang out at. Small details, like a complimentary light breakfast delivered each guest's door every morning rather than a (typically disappointing) breakfast buffet, and the ability to purchase local minibar items at The Hox Shop, rather than peruse a lackluster mini fridge full of stuff you don’t want in your room.
“For millennials and modern travellers, it’s about more than just a comfy bed and good shower; it’s about the whole experience. They want more. At The Hoxton, we engage with the community and become a real part of the neighbourhood, being a space for locals as well as guests,” explains Martina Luger, the London-based Chief Marketing Officer at The Hoxton. “Day and night, you’ll always find interesting locals and guests in our lobby, whether they’re brainstorming over breakfast, plugging away at a laptop or catching up with friends over cocktails. Our cultural programming brings the best of our neighbourhoods in and our Hox Friends initiative — a hand-picked group of locals who echo our values — share local tips and favourite spots to offer authentic recommendations and experiences to our guests.”
Each property is distinctly different based on location — Paris’ Hoxton was built in an 18th century mansion and retains various elements of French charm. “The design concept of each Hoxton is always inspired by the building it’s in and the streets and scenes that surround it. We strive to be a reflection of the neighborhood, with functional spaces and a residential feel,” explains Charlie North, Design Director at The Hoxton. “We use authentic materials and strive for a timeless and individual aesthetic. We always want our spaces to be comfortable and relaxed, and for guests to treat our lobby like their living room.” Free Wi-Fi, accessible outlets, cozy sofas and meeting-friendly setups recognize the way that a new generation of workers/travelers are also freelance or remote workers, meaning visitors can spend hours at a time in the lobby with coffee and a laptop, explore a city and then return for cocktail hour.
In the geotag era, design and decor is, arguably, more important than ever. North and his team use Instagram for research and inspiration, but don’t ignore the impact social media has on The Hoxton’s brand. “We’re acutely aware of setting out those Instagram moments when installing projects,” he says. “You can plan them into your design but there’s nothing more exciting than finding a selection of furniture pieces and materials and colours that just work when you’re installing a project. More people have access to design inspiration than ever before, via the likes of Pinterest and Instagram, so this is constantly pushing us to do new things, and keep our designs evolving and fresh.”
Moving into a Hoxton property isn’t quite an option yet, but recreating the experience at home is getting easier. The furniture, decor, dramatic accent walls, and even the food served at the Hoxton stir up a fair amount of Insta-envy. It’s like living in your favorite HGTV show, if only for a few nights. People love it so much the hotel has decided to sell its bedding, as well as other decor souvenirs in its hotel shop. Or, you could do what I did, and buy remarkably similar pieces (okay, and paint colors) after you check out and put the full Hoxton treatment on your own bedroom.