A stylish room in central London doesn't have to cost a bomb. At The Hoxton, the capital's latest budget boutique, you can bag a bargain rate and enjoy some fairly priced extras

Contemporary boutique hotel style and comfort for Travelodge prices by the City of London. What's not for your business traveller to like? According to its website, the 205-room Hoxton is where "urban living meets country-lodge lounging", which roughly translates as a couple of working fireplaces in a lobby that has a vaguely New York loft feel.

But owner and Pret a Manger co-founder Sinclair Beecham's real triumph here has been to remove the niggles that can eat away at the pleasure of a night in a hotel. Wallet-emptying mini-bars have been replaced by a fridge with fresh milk and mineral water - guests stock up on booze and snacks at supermarket prices from the 24-hour shop. Phone calls within the UK are a reasonable 3 pence a minute and Wi-Fi access is free.

The hotel launched earlier this year with a headline grabbing £1-a-room offer and there are plans for more. Could this herald a generation of truly budget-priced boutique-style hotels?

The location

A five-minute walk from that crime against architecture the Old Street roundabout, The Hoxton is as grittily urban as you could wish for. The altogether more attractive and newly regenerated Spitalfields Market with its boutiques, food shops, restaurants and bars is just a short walk away.

The comfort factor

Ask for a quiet room at the back of the hotel overlooking Willow Street, away from the traffic of Great Eastern Street. High-quality Hypnos mattresses and luxurious Frette bed linen guarantee a great night's sleep. Sink into a leather sofa and check your email in the spacious lobby.

The bathroom

Efficient power showers in the en-suite chocolate-brown-tiled bathrooms make up for the lack of a bath. Cosseting Floringo towels, Pears soap and natty bottles of The White Company products are unexpected and stylish finishing touches.

The food and drink

With its caramel banquettes, exposed brickwork and open kitchen, The Hoxton Grille is a destination restaurant in its own right. Slabs of meat and fish come with the best fat chips in town. A velvety chicken-liver parfait proves the kitchen is not just a one-trick grilling pony. Three courses without wine costs around £25 per head. The complimentary Pret breakfast includes yoghurt with fruit compote and granola.

The people

The new dot.com generation meets suited-and-booted businessmen under the flying papier-mâché eagle in the lobby/ lounge bar area. At weekends expect a mix of culture seeking couples and locals who come for the live DJs and blueberry margaritas.

The area

Top notch gastropubs such as the nearby Princess and acclaimed restaurants including The Rivington Grill and Cay Tre mean there is no need to trek into the West End for an evening on the town. Sadler's Wells and the Barbican are close, as is Fabric night-club.

The access

Public areas are fully accessible to pushchairs and wheelchairs and there are 10 fully accessible rooms in the hotel. Roll out beds for under-12s and cots are supplied free. No pets are allowed.

The damage

From £79 per double room. No single supplement or child rates.

The address

The Hoxton, 81 Great Eastern Street, London EC2A 3HU (020-7550 1000; hoxtonhotels.com).


* Live it up in the heart of Kensington by checking into Base2stay (020-7244 2255; base2stay.com). This offers all the advantages of a boutique hotel and your own kitchen but at budget prices. Singles start at £80 per night.

* Cheap accommodation does not come any more central than at the Piccadilly Backpackers Hotel (020-7434 9009; piccadillybackpackers.com). It offers a selection of choices that include dormitories, rooms and Japanese-style pods. Beds start at £12 per night.