It can all get very cozy and almost personal when you stay at a hotel for a few days over Christmas. Particularly a hotel with a damned good bar and restaurant. So it was for me and the husband this year at the Hoxton Hotel in Shoreditch (in truth, we stayed here last year and the whole experience was so relaxing we decided to go for a repeat performance!)
There’s something rather indulgently special about being cherished by others at this time of year, particularly when you have spent the last ten years (or could it be twenty?) frantically trying to bring the whole thing together at home. All that turning the house into a Christmas fantasy, hoping like hell you have got what was ordered from Santa right, getting up at the crack of dawn to get the blessed turkey in the oven, peeling, chopping, simmering and skimming not to mention the impossible goal of looking groomed, calm and in control when the family arrives.
Instead, you arrive at the Hoxton on the 24th, Christmas is everywhere in the form of tastefully lit-up cane Christmas trees and papier mache reindeers, receptionists greet you warmly, Kathy, who has the perhaps-unenviable job of running the restaurant welcomes you back with a hug and assures you that she has allocated a comfy banquette for tomorrow’s lunch and after a mere five minutes dedicated to hanging up the party frock you retire to the bar where the staff are eager to mix you a well-earned gin and tonic. It’s hell but someone has to do it!
Christmas morning dawns. A little light breakfast is followed by a brisk (and very chilly) walk in the spookily-deserted east end of London then back for a heart-racingly spicy Bloody Mary before taking a relaxing shower, giving the nails a final coat, putting the slap on and donning the frock. Then it’s back to the bar to greet the family. The place is buzzing, the staff are moving at pace but no-one’s looking stressed – impressive stuff. Champagne all round then lunch which was every bit as good as last year. No complaints at our table as the meal was served at a leisurely pace, every bite was delicious, the presentation was creative without being overly-styled, the staff were attentive and good fun and the wine flowed. Part of the entertainment was watching the chefs who are very much on view throw it together effortlessly with only a few minor frowns from ‘he who must be obeyed’. When we retired around midnight the place was still going like a fair and had lost none of its Christmas cheer.
Boxing day was no different. Some of the kitchen, restaurant, bar and hotel staff had barely slept but still moved at pace and oozed charm. Boy, they must have been tired but we were supremely relaxed, well fed and well oiled! Big thanks to all – think we’ll start saving for next year. This place is definitely worth considering for a relaxing Christmas or other special occasion.