London is a traveller-friendly city with plenty of accommodation options that won’t break the bank. The hostel options means your budget will go further, plus they’re often more sociable. Culture Trip picks the best hostels that will make your stay more special.
When it comes to accommodation, London might seem like a costly prospect for backpackers or young travellers on a budget. However, for every posh or prestigious hotel, there is a more affordable alternative where you can relax, mingle and make friends – while still enjoying doorstep access to one of Europe’s most visited cities. From King’s Cross to Elephant and Castle, here are our suggestions to make your stay all the more memorable.
With Oxford Circus, Regent Street and Covent Garden on the doorstep, SoHostel has an enviable central location. Whether you’re after a spirited social stay or a metropolitan retreat, the variety of dorms and female-only, single or double rooms (with private ensuite bathrooms) mean there will be something that meets your criteria. In the sunny months, guests can catch some rays on the soft green turf of the Hawaiian rooftop bar; serving up cocktails, wallet-friendly wines and locally brewed beers, it’s a quality spot to take in the skyline views.
Safestay London Elephant and Castle may be the southernmost hostel on this list, but it’s still very well connected to Central London, with the underground station minutes away. It has a low-cost continental breakfast for guests, a café serving piping-hot margherita and pepperoni pizzas, Friday rock nights and street-art tours of East London all on offer. Upstairs, hot-pink walls clash with dusky-purple bunks that come complete with curtains – a valuable means of privacy that you’ll likely appreciate in a shared dorm. If you’d rather go private, there are rooms for up to three people, all with en-suite bathrooms stocked with handy extras such as toiletries, hot drinks and towels.
St Christopher’s The Oasis is a female-only hostel between Southwark and Borough – a short stroll from the historic Shakespeare’s Globe and the exciting Southbank area, home to the London Eye and the Sea Life London Aquarium. Inside, you’ll find capsule beds with mood lighting and privacy curtains. If you’re looking for a bit more space, choose a shared or private dormitory – one of which has amazing views of the Shard, Europe’s tallest building. Celebrate your arrival in the UK capital with some drinks at the on-site bar downstairs, Belushi’s – you’ll get a 25 percent discount on drinks and either a live band or DJ set to dance and sing along with until you’re ready for bed.
Throughout much of the late 20th century, Wombat’s The City Hostel London was a guesthouse for sailors from the merchant navy. There’s a very different vibe today – you don’t have to be a seafarer to stay here, for starters – yet the place has kept up its reputation for hospitality with a multitude of Hoscar awards for Most Popular Hostel. Located in the heart of east London’s historic Tobacco Dock, this trendy hostel is just a short stroll from St Katharine Docks and Skylight – an adult playground and rooftop bar. Soothingly neutral rooms all have ensuite bathrooms, along with white wooden bunks and panelled floors complemented by mauve feature walls. You’ll find extra privacy on double beds nestled in the alcoves of dorms, or by splashing out on a private room.
Located in Swiss Cottage, a leafy north London neighbourhood, Palmers Lodge has Regent’s Park, Primrose Hill and London Zoo on its doorstep. It’s close to Finchley Road and Swiss Cottage underground stations and only a handful of stops from Baker Street, Westminster and England’s impressive national stadium in Wembley Park. This characterful old building features original ceiling roses, fireplaces and warm wooden details.
Bright geometric patterns adorn the walls of the rooms at Generator London; the accommodation options range from 13-bed dorms to a private, superior king – perfect for nomads with a bit of extra cash in their pocket. Other vibrant spaces include a dancefloor with a replica London bus, a dusky-pink gallery wall offset with quirky furniture and a white piano flaunting hand-painted designs. Capture a memory of your stay in the classic photo booth, or grab a burger and a pint inside the large wood-panelled bar. Located between King’s Cross and Russell Square, the hostel is also just a short amble from the kooky boutiques of Camden.
Rest Up London, located in South London, is only a short walk from Elephant and Castle underground station. The original pre-World War I, Baroque-style building is easily the most stylish on this list, and the designers have spared no expense in making this an atmospheric place to spend your downtime in London. There’s a lively cafe where guests can enjoy continental or English breakfasts and an eclectic dinner menu of burgers, fish and chips, pasta, home-made pizzas and more.
Park Villa has many of London’s prettiest green spaces on its doorstep, including Mile End Park, Victoria Park and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the site of the London 2012 games. Here, you can take an adrenaline-fuelled slide down the ArcelorMittal Orbit or dive off the high boards at the Olympic pool. Also nearby is West Ham’s home ground, where you can watch a Premier League match. This charming hostel offers a chilled-out place to rest your head while staying in the capital.
The Walrus Hostel sits on top of an archetypal British boozer in the heart of Waterloo, moments from the Tate Modern, Houses of Parliament and the foodie paradise that is Borough Market. Before you go on a wild eating spree though, you might want to try the hostel breakfast that includes toast, spreads, coffee and fresh orange juice – it’s only £2.50. A solid night’s sleep is guaranteed thanks to insulating double-glazed windows and thick mattresses in each of the shared rooms. For an authentic English experience, venture downstairs to the pub and recline on the mishmash of vintage furniture with a refreshing pint of ale in hand.
A stay at Astor Hyde Park will not only put you within strolling distance of the city’s most famous green spaces but also the enlightening wonders of the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. Sitting behind the red bricks and peach-hued archway – it’s a great spot to sit in the sun while socialising – of this Victorian townhouse is a mix of old-world vintage furniture and colourfully graffitied walls. On rainy days, the lounge’s burgundy leather armchairs and forest-green chesterfield sofas make for a great alternative, as aspiring Beethovens play on the room’s piano. Later, unleash your competitive side with a game of table football in the kitchen area, before crashing in the red bunks of the dorms upstairs.
Sitting in the angular shadow of the Shard, St Christopher’s at the Village seeks to provide an immersive stay in the Big Smoke, with thoughtful elements such as a free walking tour and regular live music. A contemporary ode to the city, rooms feature arty London maps with a prismatic River Thames that’s emphasised with pops of royal blue decor. When you’re not tucked away in one of the Japanese-inspired capsule beds, enjoy a Jägerbomb or two in the pop-culture patchwork walls of the bar. Alternatively, for some food-based fun, visit nearby Borough Market – a haven of fresh local produce and stomach-rumbling cookery demonstrations.
Formerly an electronic goods showroom and then an office building, this hotel-hostel hybrid has been stripped back to its former Art Deco glory and is now a creative hub in Wood Green. Affordable dorm rooms offer a place to crash on secluded compressed-plywood bunks, while those after some solitude can sink into three-quarter beds in the symmetrical standard rooms. Mingle with artists and performers while tucking into karaage (crispy fried chicken) in the mellow setting of the in-house Japanese restaurant, Oita Kitchen. Those after a night out need only wander over to The Goodness Brewing Company for a tantalising tropical pale ale and a dance-floor-smashing DJ set.
Clink78 is housed in a former courthouse where British punk rockers The Clash stood trial. The hostel pays tribute to its origins with a bar named after the band. You might hear one or two of their hits (London Calling included); however, the standard playlist tends to favour Motown and early ’90s classics. In any case, doing your drinking and dancing here will save you a few quid – though you might briefly think the night had gone awry upon waking up in one of its converted prison-cell rooms the next morning. Complete with original features such as barred windows and heavy doors (don’t worry – they remain open from the inside), the hostel offers a range of snug private rooms and sociable small and large dorms.
Minutes from Limehouse DLR station, this red-brick hostel is a typical backpacker crash pad, with its stripped-back rooms and uniform bunks. Its crisp-white canvas is brought to life with niche details like traditional stained-glass windows and an astroturfed rooftop space. Line your tummy with a continental breakfast in the communal kitchen – a social area that’s transformed into a nighttime hub of activity with beer-pong tournaments. To experience the more verdant side of the city, consider nearby Moo Canoes for an adventurous outing along the river, rounded off with a pint at the popular Crate Brewery in the edgy warehouse district of Hackney Wick.