The first time I stayed at a youth hostel in 2014, I really liked being with people from all over the world and hearing all kinds of different languages around me. I book in youth hostels because I'm not all that rich but like most people I'd rather have a room to myself (fear of being stolen or awaken by people coming back late at night). Well, I did have an amazing stay in the London Backpackers hostel - Hendon Central branch in zone 3 and while I tell you more about the hostel, you'll understand why I'd book again without hesitation.
You had better book a bed online and compare different websites before booking to get the cheapest price : I've booked with HostelWorld and each bed was less than €13 or €14 in a female dorm - a lot cheaper than any hotel. I paid a deposit online and brought the rest of the money at the hostel and gave it when I arrived. Don't forget to bring 5 more pounds for the magnetic card that's actually a key to the hostel (you'll be given your 5 pounds back when you leave) - from midnight, there's no more reception unless for late check-ins from what I grasped.
Dorms and bathrooms
Any room you're in, private room or dorm, there's a code to access it which will be given to you at the reception. My sister and I were lucky enough to be upgraded for the last two night : we'd booked two dorm beds but since the hostel was to be full come the end of the week, the managers upgraded us to a private room since my sis is underage. We didn't have to pay for anything and it was pretty nice to be just the two of us. If you book a private room, know the beds are still bunk beds.
And so we went from a 12-bed female dorm to a private room just steps from the bathrooms - perfection, especially since the showers really were hot enough (unlike some hostels and even hotels that are cheap but everything's cheap about them too, you know). There are three showers in the bathrooms facing three toilets and if you want to be alone, you'd better go around 3 pm to about 5 pm when there's almost no one in the hostel. The bathrooms were really clean, it was pretty cool to almost feel like home even while being with strangers for a week.
I really liked being in a dorm though : the other girls were nice and discreet and although there was little room when it comes to luggage (some had come with their apartment !), the beds were each equipped with an integrated lamp, two USB plugs (no actual need for an adapter) and a small tablet on which to put your things when you go to sleep.
I was so happy when I figured each bed had a small curtain that's opaque and hides your bed from the rest of the room when drawn. If you're afraid someone's going to steal your things, you can have a locker for 50 pence a day and there are also some lockers under the beds that you can use as you wish - all you have to do is bring a lock - don't forget because once you're here, you can have one at the hostel for £5, which is pretty expensive...
The kitchen and the breakfast
Breakfast is included in the price of the room. It's quite simple but enough until noon : cereal, toasts with butter and marmelade, tea, Cadbury powder chocolate, milk. Breakfast is served between 7.30 am and 9 am - do not arrive at 8.55 am because the kitchen is closed for cleaning by then and you'll be told you can't have breakfast. It happened to us once, not twice ! Aside from that, you can cook your own things in the kitchen - there's an oven (broken by the time we checked in), a microwave, cutting boards, plates, glasses, forks, pans... everything you might need to fix basic dishes.
There are also three fridges and freezers in which you can put your food but you have to put your name on it. You can also rent boxes down at the reception to put your food in but I suspect only the people living in the hostel have a box (yeah, some people actually live in the hostel. One of the girls told me she paid £91 per weel to live there, which is half of a basic rent in London).
Next to the kitchen, there's one of the two TV rooms of the hostel - there are many movies there, room to eat your breakfast and three sofas. In the other TV room, I've never been but I know there's a pool table. You can also use a washing machine for £4 (plus £2 for each drying token but I can't remember the price of the detergent which you can get at the reception), and also an iron... Near the reception, there are two computers with free access to the Internet - I've checked how my posts were published while I was there. The hostel Wi-Fi is really great too, it was cool being able to watch videos and browse the Internet after walking around London all day (and shopping around too but that's not the topic).
In a nutshell, I wouldn't like spending my life in a hostel for I like my intimacy and being alone but it's okay living there for a few days, weeks or months if I ever get an intership there. London Backpackers Hendon Central is great and it's pretty close the Central London - 25 minutes in the Tube with the Northern Line. If I ever come back to London, I'll book a bed again in this hostel - the staff is really nice, the bathrooms are really clean and the price of the beds is a steal - there's nothing to dislike. Do you know the chain of youth hostels London Backpackers ? Have you ever stayed there ?
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