And the worst!
With seven YHAs clustered around the heart of London, picking the best one can be daunting. While there are a couple of great bargains out there, one of them is downright dodgy. Some are best for groups, rather than solo travellers, and only one has a self-catering kitchen. I visited them all in one day so you don’t have to…
Read the full article by clicking on: Backpacker Essentials.
A wheelie bin, overflowing with rubbish, at the entrance says it all – grubby, unwelcoming and unconcerned with its appearance.
Inside, things look more promising, with colourful murals of London landmarks brightening up the walls and stairways. But it’s downhill from there.
A lift brings you to reception, where a dispensing machine sells ear plugs and eye masks – not a good sign. Indeed, the traffic outside is loud, so light sleepers should look elsewhere.
The lounge room has stained carpet, a saggy sofa, no windows and not a soul in sight. Walls in the corridors are flaking and mouldy in patches, while the bathrooms need an upgrade and a more regular scrub.
There are no ensuites or double rooms but all rooms have a sink and central heating. Dorm rooms are very average, but some smaller rooms looked slightly better.
The only real reason to stay here is for the great location as it’s a short stroll to Oxford Street, Carnaby Street, Piccadilly Circus, theatres, pubs and other highlights of Soho. And with only 75 beds, you won’t feel as lost in the crowd as in the bigger hostels.
London Central YHA
Younger backpackers will love this property, with its 24-hour café/bar, free wifi and fun vibe. When the staff sees people sitting alone, they bring everyone together for a bowling tournament on the big-screen Nintendo Wii.
Once unpacked, this is a good base to explore London by foot. Down the road from buzzing Oxford Street and the British Museum, it’s a 15-minute walk to Camden Town and 20 minutes to Covent Garden and Leicester Square via Soho.
Travel desk staff can advise on discounts on major attractions, quirky corners and getting your name on the guest list of nearby nightclubs such as Fabric and Ministry of Sound.
Almost 300 beds are spread over seven floors in rooms with four to eight bunks (no singles or doubles), plus there’s a self-catering kitchen including facilities for wheelchair users.
Of all the YHAs in London, this one is the closest to a tube station, and thanks to a recent refurbishment, almost every room has an ensuite bathroom including shower. The 10 twin rooms book out quickly but the dorms are modern and clean and each bed has its own light and power point.
A couple of minutes’ walk from King’s Cross and StPancras stations, it’s popular with people travelling by Eurostar, backpackers in their 20s and 30s and families (staying in the many four-bed rooms or the two rooms with a double bed and child’s bunk).
With a pub on either side, and the British Library directly opposite, it’s only two tube stops away from Camden Town’s weekend markets and London Zoo and a few more stops south to the main attractions.
Staff are friendly and helpful and the café is often busy serving pizzas, platters and panini.
On the downside, there’s no self-catering kitchen but lots of cheap food options nearby, and the TV room is good for meeting people.
In a quiet street but steps away from the action, this refurbished property is clean, convenient and modern.
The best feature is the large, leafy courtyard, onto which several rooms open; its calming vibe spreads from outdoors to indoors. Other highlights include a new café, common room with TV, wifi internet and a quiet reading room overlooking the garden.
There are several twin and quad rooms, 13 dorms (6-10 beds) but no single rooms. Each room has a sink; the separate shared bathrooms are basic, but the kitchen is large and tidy.
Hyde Park, Natural History Museum, Science Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum are within walking distance, with good access by tube everywhere else. This is a hostel that would appeal to all ages.
Tucked away in a quiet lane around the corner from St Paul’s Cathedral, this 190-bed hostel has a handy location but without the noise – the only traffic is a few delivery vans during business hours – and yet it’s only a short walk to sights such as the Tate Modern, London Eye and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
A former choir boys’ school, the building has real character and a relaxed atmosphere. Although the décor is tired and it needs new carpet, the chandeliers and cathedral views in the common areas pick up the appearance.
Good for families, couples and solo travellers, the hostel has three single rooms, six twins, seven triples and plenty of dorms with a sink in each room and shared bathrooms.
The lack of a self-catering kitchen is solved with a large dining hall and restaurant serving good, cheap meals. There’s also a cute courtyard out the back with a couple of tables.
A shame this hostel is aimed at groups because it’s so beautiful and literallyin the park. But if you’re happy sharing a dorm with 10-20 people (the smaller rooms are usually booked out by tour leaders), this is a pleasant alternative. In summer you can even sit on the lawn and listen to live opera from the open-air venue next door.
Breakfast is included in the price and the restaurant offers a three-course dinner for around AU$15.
Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Palace and the main museums are within walking distance. Use the Kensington High Street tube if you want to avoid the uphill walk from Holland Park tube.
Also predominantly for tour groups and situated in a residential area near the Docklands, the recently renovated Thameside is near the East London line extension.
Older couples may like the private rooms, being away from the hustle and bustle, and taking walks along the Thames path. Nearest attractions, such as the Tower of London, Tower Bridge and London Dungeon are about half an hour’s walk away but buses stop outside the door.
Read the full article by clicking on: Backpacker Essentials.