The Hoxton Chicago

I love a Hoxton Hotel experience anywhere in the world, but I was especially excited about visiting the Chicago branch after it opened earlier this year. It is one of four American properties from the London hotel brand, alongside Brooklyn, Portland and LA. Located in the heart of the bustling Fulton Market district, the Hoxton Chicago is surrounded by great restaurants, cafes and shops.

Hoxton Chicago

There are so many perks to staying at a Hoxton Hotel, but best of all their new ‘flexy time’ lets you check-in and check-out whenever you like within a 24 hour period. Inside, the the hotel is set-out to make the guest experience logical and relaxing.

Hoxton Chicago

There are 182 rooms in three types: Snug, Cosy and Roomie. They are all similar in style, with a few differing design features and details. The decor is in keeping with the industrial past of the building, with warehouse style floor-to-ceiling windows ensuring the bedrooms are bright and airy.

I loved the smart leather headboards and abstract custom-made bed linen. The furniture is inspired by mid-century design with bespoke wallpapers and locally sourced artwork.

Hoxton Chicago

I was pleased to discover that the Hoxton Chicago has the recognisable hox perks in every room. Breakfast is included in the room rate via ‘the little breakfast’ bag which you hang on your door each night and pick up in the morning filled with healthy orange juice, fruit and overnight oats.

Hoxton Chicago

The Hoxton always delivers on food offerings and Hoxton Chicago are lucky enough to have locally acclaimed chef Stephanie Izard in charge of the main eatery on the rooftop, Cabra Cevicheria. This Peruvian inspired restaurant serves irresistible dishes in a vibrant and colourful space with incredible views over the city.

Hoxton Chicago

Downstairs in the main lobby you’ll find Cira, where a relaxed Mediterranean menu showcases the ultimate breakfast, brunch. lunch and dinner dishes. I absolutely loved our brunch here, the perfect revitalising feast after a very chilly morning in town. Highlights included the generous shakshuka and the thick fluffy french toast with pistachio granola and orange blossom curd.

Hoxton Chicago

The hotel has recently welcomed a new ‘Working From’ space; two floors of co-working space, meeting rooms and offices to rent. The spacious areas are designed with the same trendy Hoxton feel, decked out with kitchens, coffee shops and all the amenities you could need while working remotely.

Hoxton Chicago

The Hoxton Chicago was a highlight to my trip to the windy city. Beautiful, comfortable bedrooms, stunning welcoming common spaces and exemplary food, I can’t think of a better place for a few nights in this city.

I was a guest of the Hoxton Hotel Chicago, more information and book a room here.

How to Host with Airbnb

Like many people, I decided to try being an Airbnb host after some great experiences being an Airbnb guest around the world. I live in a small but cosy two bedroom flat in London with my husband. We found that our second bedroom was completely empty and unused. Hosting guests in the room has enabled us to earn a bit of extra money and to make friends with lovely, like-minded travellers from all over the world.

In this blog post I hope to dispel a few misconceptions and worries that potential hosts might have, while also highlighting some of the best bits about the experience.

Find out more details about being a host here.

This post is sponsored by Airbnb.

Airbnb

  • Anyone can be an Airbnb host

Whether you have an entire empty property or just a small bedroom to fill, you can be an Airbnb host. When I first posted about our second bedroom I assumed no one would want to stay in our area, sharing a bathroom, but Airbnb helped us position our offering so it was geared towards the right audience. Airbnb also offers a recommended price to help your property get more guests.

  • Who will come and stay and what will they be like?

This is the aspect I was most worried about prior to becoming a host on Airbnb, but I needn’t worry at all. The rating and reviewing system on Airbnb means you can always see what has been said about guests interested in staying at your property. You can also ask potential guests questions to ensure they are the right fit for you. We usually welcome single guests, but have also had couples. Some guests stay for just 2 nights, while one Australian couple stayed with us for over 2 months. We always welcome guests into our flat and find out a bit about them when they first arrive but also give them the peace and quiet if they wish to just chill out. Within 24 hours you’ll become aware of what kind of interaction your guests are after.

  • Will the guests be respectful of our home?

Over the last four years, we have never had a guest mistreat our home. After clear explanations at the start of the stay about how to lock up, and use the bathroom and kitchen, we have found that every guest has been clean and conscientious. Guests who stay for a short time are usually out for the majority of the time exploring the city. They barely use the kitchen, and the bathroom has been easy to share. If a guest hadn’t treated our home appropriately it is easy to review accordingly on Airbnb, and their profile will be updated with those details for all future hosts to see.

Airbnb

  • Make some easy cash

I was amazed by how quickly the sums added up when we started our journey as a host. It may only be a small amount per night but after just 1 month we had enough money to repaint several rooms in the flat and make luxurious changes that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford. This was a particular relief when I was out of work for a few months and we needed the extra income to pay the mortgage.

  • Flexibility

Unlike a permanent housemate, on Airbnb you have the flexibility to have guests as and when you choose. Block out dates when you need the place to yourself or have friends to stay, or lower your price per night if you have a particular need for the extra cash. It has also enabled us to Host in the entire flat (rather than just one bedroom) when we’ve been travelling for extended periods of time.

Airbnb

All in all, I can’t recommend being an Airbnb host enough. In the last four years we’ve had guests who have invited us back to stay with them elsewhere in the world, we’ve shared meals with lovely guests and we’ve spent many nights chatting about shared travel experiences. As a London writer, it has also been a great way for me to share my knowledge with keen tourists, so they see the best of the city.

Things to do in Ljubljana, Slovenia

Ljubljana is a brilliant destination for a weekend break. Just an hour and half from London, and close to the Italian border, the Slovenian capital city is beautiful and easily walkable. There are just enough sites to keep you entertained but not overwhelmed, and the local restaurants are relaxed and reasonably priced. When you feel you have exhausted all the city has to offer, venture out of town to the many beautiful sights and natural beauties this small but special country has to offer. Lake Bled and Soča Valley were top of my itinerary, but there are many other wonderful areas to explore if you have a little longer.

Slovenia

To Stay

Vander Urbani Resort – This design hotel is conveniently tucked away in the very centre of town. With 20 sleek rooms, a ground floor restaurant and a small rooftop pool, it is a popular choice for weekend trips to Ljubljana.

Slovenia

To Eat

TaBar – On a warm evening the TaBar terrace is the best place in town to eat, drink and people watch. The menu has a range of gourmet dishes, designed to be shared as tapas and focused around local ingredients. Try the Ostrich and the mini burger and let the brilliant team help you choose a glass from the reasonably priced list of organic, Slovenian orange wines.

Gelataria Romantika – This cute ice-cream parlour is known for its quirky and delicious flavours of gelato. I loved the traditional Tarragon and cottage cheese and also the Pumpkin Seed Oil on Vanilla Bourbon base.

EK Bistro – EK bistro pride themselves on serving the best brunch menu in town. The stylish hang out offers a menu of alluring egg dishes, including Eggs Benedict with pulled beef, pumpkin oil and seeds and Goats cheese omelette with tarragon. Or you can opt for something lighter like Granola with yoghurt, thyme syrup and seasonal fruit.

Trappa – A new pizzeria 10 mins outside Ljubljana, serving delicious sourdough pizzas and a range of local organic wines.

Ménagerie – A charming, new boulangerie, ideal for breakfast. Ménagerie is beautifully decorated in a shade of pale green with antique furniture and artwork. Try the pillowy local brioche with homemade jam and butter, or take away one of their speciality loaves.

Monstera Bistro – Everyone recommended Monstera Bistro, and for good reason. This simple, local bistro is run by Bine Volčič, one of the best-known chefs in the country, and his wife Katarina. A daily menu offers delightful dishes like Braised pulled pork in tramezzino bread, and Elderflower baba cake. When we visited it was just €17 for 2 courses or €20 for 3… be sure to book.

Slovenia

To Drink

Cafe Čokl – This little cafe is known to locals and tourists as one of the best coffee shops in town. Café Cokl roasts only the freshest Arabica beans, and then uses a variety of expert techniques to make you a coffee of your choice.

Kolibri – Kolibri is considered to be Ljubljana’s best cocktail bar, perhaps even the finest in the country. The tiny bar is decadently designed with moody lighting and velvet seating. Sit at the bar and order from their seasonal menu, we particularly loved the Mezcal old fashioned.

Črno Zrno – This little blue and white tiled hole in the wall is found in the Gornji trg part of town. Črno Zrno translates to ‘black bean’ and is owned and run by Alex, a Colombian architect turned coffee geek, eager to bring the best Colombian coffee to Slovenia. The speciality coffee here is immaculately measured out, poured to perfection and served with a smile. A must-visit for caffeine fans visiting Ljubljana.

Stow – Stow is a modern and spacious cafe located within the City Museum. Stow initially launched as a roaster before opening a cafe serving their carefully selected and roasted beans. Stow also run coffee academies where experts share their coffee knowledge.

Tozd – This friendly cafe in the centre of town is a lovely place to sit and read for a while. Though their coffee making skills aren’t the best in town, their beans are from Escobar, a brilliant speciality coffee company outside of Ljubljana.

Slovenia

To Do

Triple Bridge – It is impossible to miss this iconic historic feature in the heart of Ljubljana. The three bridges cross over the Ljubljanica River and was designed by the architect Jože Plečnik, completed in 1932. Tourists constantly walk over the famous bridges, but they are most picturesque from above.

Funicular up to the castle – Take the short funicular ride up Castle Hill above downtown Ljubljana to the landmark castle. Originally a medieval fortress, it was likely constructed in the 11th century and rebuilt in the 12th century. The panoramic views of the city are most beautiful at sunset.

Nebotičnik Skyscraper – This prominent high-rise building is located in the centre of Ljubljana and was once the tallest residential building in Europe, with its thirteen storeys rising to a height of 70.35m. It was designed by the Slovenian architect Vladimir Šubic for the Pension Institute, the building’s investor, and was opened on 21 February 1933. Head to the building staircase for a view all the way down, or enjoy a drink on the outdoor terrace.

Sunday Flea Market – A charming flea market takes place every Sunday morning along the riverside on and around Cobbler’s Bridge (on Breg). Here you can find an extraordinary range of antique goods and bric-a-brac to interesting Slovenian memorabilia.

Slovenia

To Escape

Soča Valley – A couple of hours from Ljubljana the Soča Valley is a 138-kilometre long river that flows through western Slovenia and northeastern Italy. Here you can enjoy fresh Alpine hikes, whitewater rafting and other outdoor sports. One of the best walks is from Kobarid to Slap Kozjak where you can visit an impressive waterfall for €4 per person and see Napoleon’s Bridge. We came to the Soča Valley to try the destination restaurant Hiša Franko run by inspiring chef Ana Ros, a must for all foodies visiting Slovenia. She also owns the casual eatery Hiša Polonka with her husband; here you can try the delicious local craft beer paired with the hearty traditional dish – cheese and potato frika.

Lake Bled – Just 40 minutes outside of Ljubljana is one of the countries best-known and most beautiful natural wonders. Lake Bled is a lake in the Julian Alps of the Upper Carniolan region of northwestern Slovenia, where it adjoins the town of Bled. Here you can trek up to Mala Osojnica for a magnificent viewpoint, take a boat to Bled Island (€15pp return), and enjoy wild swimming. Don’t leave without trying the famous and indulgent Bled cake (a light cake with layers of pastry, whipped cream and custard).