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For those who aim to see the world but have limited funds, hostels are a lifesaver. These budget accommodations offer a good night’s sleep to those on the go, offering a variety of rooming options at various price points.

London is an expensive city, in which a hostel can make a significant impact on your travel budget. Here’s some expert advice from Safestay London for choosing the hostel of your dreams and avoiding the horror stories that deter so many from this great travel option.

How to Choose a Hostel in London

Towels and Linens

Hostel bed RF

When you’re looking for a place to stay, check to see if towels and linens are provided. In many of the nicer hostels, they are. In lesser hostels, they are not.

While many travelers prefer to bring their own towels and linens, it can be challenging to do so if you have limited room in your bags.

It also means finding a place to do laundry before continuing your trip, especially if you bring your own towels and linens out of hygiene concerns.

Check the Room Options

One of the things that make hostels so affordable is the group rooming options. Many hostels have a dormitory, shared with other guests, as their most affordable option.

Others have private rooms and even private bathrooms for an extra fee. Often, the dormitories are unisex, so you’ll have to assess your feelings of comfort with this before booking.

Additionally, if you’re traveling with your family or people under 18 years of age, you may not be allowed in the dormitory at all. Get familiar with the hostel’s room options and age limits.

Safety and Curfew

Hostel lockers

One of the most important aspects of choosing hostel accommodation are the measures taken to keep you and your belongings safe.

Find out if your hostel has a curfew that patrons are expected to be in bed by or if it’s a 24-hour access location. Evaluate what steps are taken to monitor the people in the building, especially if it’s the latter.

Unlike hotels, you might not have a lock on your door to separate you from the other guests. You’ll also want to ensure that they have somewhere you can lock up your possessions– such as a safe for your passport– before booking.

While London is typically a safe travel destination, it’s important to always be vigilant in protecting your belongings.

Food Options

Food options aren’t always necessary when you’re traveling, as you won’t be spending much time in your hostel throughout the day. However, it can be nice to wake up early, eat breakfast, then start the day’s adventure.

Check to see if your hostel has food and beverage options and what times of day they are available. This factor shouldn’t make or break your decision to stay, but it should help with planning.

London is very much a meat and potatoes country, with filling pub food and traditional fare you won’t want to miss.

Location

London RF

The whole point of your trip is to see the world, so finding a place that is near your desired sightseeing attractions is ideal. In London, the most common sights are Big Ben, the London Eye, Buckingham Palace, the Tower Bridge, and the Tower of London.

Find a hostel that is near one of these attractions or along the major travel routes where it is easy to get a cab. Apps like Sygic Travel can help you prioritize your sightseeing and create an easy to follow route from your hotel, along with timing expectations, to help you make the most of your trip.

London is an incredible city that everyone should visit at least once, regardless of the costs associated. Staying in a hostel can help offset these costs and make the city more accessible to all.

Pro Tip: Find the cheapest flights to London by downloading the free Skyscanner app. Click for:

Apple Store free download (iOS)  Google Store free download (Android)

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.

    

    36 Comments

  1. We rarely do hostels these days Meg save 1-2 stays per long term trip but love the 24 hour option as far as staff. Cutting costs is big so many hostels lose human support at 8 PM or some similar time. I dig having a person to speak too for issues around the clock but get the budget conscious nature of hostels too. Rocking post as always 🙂

    • I agree, a 24 hour desk with someone there at all times is really important for me if I’m staying in hostels. Glad you enjoyed the post even if it’s not your usual travel style 🙂

  2. Great tips – especially on towels and linens. Have rocked up a few times and had to sleep on the bed bare.

    • Thanks Kim, I’m glad the post was helpful 🙂 Ah yes, the idea of that makes me a bit uneasy lol so I always double check 🙂

  3. We stayed in Clink 78 in London, it was my first hostel experience ever (not just London) and it was surprisingly great. A hostel in a 200-year-old former courthouse, had a lot of character. It was cool 🙂

    • I’ve actually stayed there too – small world! It really is a great hostel; an attraction in itself 🙂

  4. How much does it cost for a hostel in London?

    • Hi Brianna, hostels vary, but you can usually find a decent hostel in a good location for around 30 pounds a night. Some go as low as 15 GBP, but you’ll pay more for smaller dorm sizes or private rooms etc. Really great value though for the UK 🙂

  5. I always aim for the bottom bunk if I can. They’re much easier to get in and out of (nobody wants to climb a ladder after a few beers) and you can also tuck your things under the bed frame. Cheers.

    • I’ve never thought of hiding things under the bed frame – great trick Vince! Haha although I am quite good at ladders when I’m drunk – haven’t fallen from one yet 😀 (knock on wood!!)

  6. Is there an age limit for London hostels?

    • Hi J, with the rare exception of some independent hostels that have age cutoffs of around 40, there’s generally no age limit. There seem to be more and are more retirees and families hosteling every year 🙂

  7. Female travelers, especially those traveling alone, may want to pick a female-only room. Even in London which is usually pretty safe.

    • I didn’t have any problems with mixed dorms myself, but definitely whatever makes each individual most comfortable 🙂

  8. Hi Meg, great post! Awesome advice as usual. I’ve never stayed in a hostel before though I don’t think my parents would like to hear it. All of my traveler friends do though and they haven’t been murdered yet lol!!

    • Hi Kris, glad you enjoyed the post! I’m sure your parents just want you to be safe – hostels do unfortunately have a bit of a reputation, but I had really positive experiences for years staying in hotels all over the world. London hostels were some of the best 🙂

      Happy travels!

  9. Hi,

    I liked the fact that you gave due importance to hygiene, where you can categorically told to take individual’s towel.

    • Hi Afzal, absolutely, if hygiene is a big concern, you can definitely travel with your own towels, and in some hostels you actually have to.

      Happy travels!

  10. Safety is the big one. We always travel with our own padlock. Even hostels with lockers sometimes either don’t provide, or charge extra for a lock. And you usually can’t fit your whole pack in a locker, so will need to have one for that too. It’s a community, so backpackers are generally pretty honest, but I still wouldn’t leave my bag lying around unlocked.

    • Absolutely Felipe, I find the combination locks are the best, as I’ve been in the situation a couple of times where I’ve lost my key over the course of a day out sightseeing. Also I came to realize that many of the cheap locks actually have the same cut of key, so they’re very easy to break into. So combination locks work well for me 🙂

  11. Take flip flops!!!!!!!!! I got warts from hostel shower in London. Gross, I know, and it is being treated but I suspect I got it from showering bare foot. Usually I travel with indoor flip-flops, but was too lazy this trip and I’m suffering the consequences. The hostel was pretty clean too.

    • Yikes! Yes I had that hardwired into me from attending many scout camps and using shared showers. Tinea is pretty common if you don’t wear thongs (Aus version of flip flops) – great reminder abut the importance of having shower shoes. I hope it clears up quickly for you X

  12. We stayed in hostels all throughout Europe, and they’re some of the best I’ve stayed in. Probably better than 3 star hotels to be honest with you. In London, loved the Generator … you do get what you pay for, but we don’t travel to stay in the room. Good enough for a place to crash. Love your work.

    • Totally agree with you Antony, glad to hear you’ve had wonderful experiences! I’ve stayed in the Generator on Russel Square and you’re right, it’s a good one 🙂

      Happy travels!

  13. I’ve found that sometimes the cheapest hostels in London tend to have the most hidden charges. I’ve paid through the nose for things like for internet, bedsheets and towels before, when it would have probably been just as cheap at that point to just book a hotel.

    • Spot on – I’ve found the same. It can really pay to do your research and pay a little bit more per night fro better value for money 🙂

  14. Hostels are great! Love them!

  15. I am a 21 year old female, this will be my first international trip and I’m going solo! So my nerves are at an all time high, but I am sooooo excited! I am only coming up in December, and I’m staying for 5 weeks. I am an eager beaver so heck I’m going to start planning already.

    If you have stayed at a hostel alone, did you make friends and then become “travel buddies”, I am an extremely social person and would love some excited travel friends too. I just don’t want to rock up there & then everyone is in groups.

    • Hi Kayla, thanks for your comment – hostels are great for making friends; from my personal experience traveling solo at the same age, I met so many cool people, and travelers you meet at hostels are always so friendly and welcoming. They’ll invite you to join even if they are in groups, I’ve been invited on day tours with people, to explore with people, go clubbing etc it’s a very inclusive atmosphere, you’ll have a great time!

      Happy travels!

  16. Perhaps it may go without saying, but normally hostels jack up their prices on the weekends, and especially during any sort of special event or holiday; (during the Royal Wedding, hostel beds normally costing around £15 were bumped up to as high as £80!).

    • Great tip Gemma – always something to be aware of. That’s supply and demand for you!

  17. SoHostel is so great!

    • Thanks for the tip! Will have to check it out on my next trip 🙂

  18. It’s been many years since I stayed in shared dorms in hostels and to this day my biggest bugbear was plastic bags. The rustle of those bags from others while you’re trying to sleep is beyond annoying. Phew…now I’ve got that off my chest after all these years…

    • Haha glad you could get it off your chest! Yes, there are many annoying little things about staying in hostels, but the over-all experience can be pretty great 🙂

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