Hoax, Liverpool: hotel review

October 3, 2013

It’s pitched as an upmarket hostel experience and, overall, Hoax does deliver (great location, if noisy, and pretty good food), but is let down by some slightly naff decor and corner-cutting finishes

The new 266-bed Hoax has been talked-up as a luxury, boutique hostel. Purists may sneer, but that’s fine by me. Some people “travel”, I go on holiday.

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I don’t need to rough it to authenticate my time off work, which is why I’ve never done hostels. I am tight, though. Hence my interest in Hoax’s de facto challenge – with its two private doubles and its four-bunk dorms – to the established budget chains.

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Bunkbeds always give off a slight borstal vibe, but with smart en suite bathrooms, sturdy fixtures, decent locker space, full-size beds and complimentary towels, Hoax dorms (up to 10-bed) are patently a cut above. If I had to share with random strangers (or, preferably, mates) I can think of nowhere better. But, of course, I stayed in a private double.

At budget level, rooms can be so scuffed and stained they look like crime scenes, but Hoax is spotless. For now. The double had some neat touches (motion-sensor bathroom lights) and some not so neat (weird, permanently-on striplight under the bed). Between that and the noise from Mathew Street – you’re in the party heart of Liverpool – Hoax may not be for light sleepers.

An entertaining car crash of styles – bed base of old beer crates, a Rolls-Royce seat chair – couldn’t entirely disguise the corporate bean-counting that lies behind Hoax. There’s thin, pump-dispenser soap, a flimsy toilet seat and polyester pillows, though the down-effect duvet is good. That disconnect is equally evident downstairs.

The Hopskotch Street Kitchen & Bar, and a basement arts space called The Hatch, are Hoax’s attempt at edgy cool. Albeit edgy cool delivered by a mainstream hotel operator and its venture-capital backers, keen to roll out the Hoax brand. For all its craft beers and hip, Brooklyn-diner chic (a cliché), Hoax is too polished, too timid. Its graffito sloganeering and multicoloured furnishings are naff and it has two Beatles murals. It’s fine. But arresting? No.

One area where Hoax shines, relative to its competitors, is food. Prices are keen and chef Craig Sallery makes a decent fist of a menu of global tapas and mains. Arancini were a little heavy on the saffron, gorditas (parcels of pulled pork) a shade dry, but Balkan-style cevapcici sausages impressed, as did the brioche-clad Yeti burger (£8.95). Think BK bacon double cheese given a sharp makeover. The buffet breakfast, included in the room rate, is functional but acceptable.

Yes, Liverpool has better places to eat (Delifonseca, Salt House) and cooler places to drink (Camp and Furnace, The Kazimier garden), but would I stay here? Happily. Even in a dorm.

• Travel between Manchester and Liverpool was provided by First TransPennine Express (tpexpress.co.uk)

Tony Naylor

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