London: Vibrant, multicultural, steeped in history. It’s a fantastic place for the solo traveller, young or old, but when it comes to finding a place to stay the small question of cost can suddenly loom large. The good news is that London has a raft of hostels to choose from – everything from big chains to smaller, local ones – and as a traveller it’s all about finding one that fits your wallet, your travel plans and your personality. Noisy or quiet; set-price or hidden extras; off the beaten track or in the thick of it, there is something for every solo traveller in London.
YHA London Oxford Street (other locations: Central, St Pancras, St Paul’s):
Sometimes you can’t go wrong with a classic and if it’s location you’re after then this hostel is it. A mere stone’s throw from London’s busiest shopping street and with central Soho on your doorstep the YHA puts you right in the centre of the action. With the pick of restaurants, theatres, bars and nightlife this hostel is not for the retiring traveller who wants to curl up with a book. A stay here is geared to fun, and the regular free walking tours, pub crawls and lively guest areas makes it great for someone looking for diversion and company during their stay.
But it’s not just location. After a £1.5 million re-fit this hostel has sloughed off its dirty hiking boots and offers sleek up to date amenities, including comfortable beds, free wifi, a café/bar and laundry, all of which makes it great value for anyone or perfect suit for solo traveller on a budget. Rooms vary – guests can opt for two-, three-, or four-bed rooms or a dormitory.
From £12.50pp (+ £3 for non-members) or £16.65 per adult
Part of the European hostel chain, this is popular choice for the single traveller. Close to Tower Bridge, and Shoreditch, with its buzzing nightlife, this hostel is well appointed and comfortable and miles away from the old image of dingy backpacker hostels. With a large bar, courtyard and bright, modern communal guest areas and a generous breakfast available for a small fee, you can choose from co-ed or female-only dorms that sleep between four and eight people. All dorms have their own bathroom.
Generator Russell Square:
If it’s big and bold you’re looking for then this could be the hostel for you. Billing itself as London’s “largest, liveliest and funkiest hostel” this should appeal for the young solo traveller looking for a great location and the maximum chance of a party. Close to Leicester Square and the British Library this is perfectly placed for anyone wanting to wring the most out of their time in the capital.
There’s a bar, internet café, laundry and chill-out areas and they offer free breakfast and London walking tours. However, big isn’t always best and with over 800 beds (a mix of female dorms, mixed dorms and private rooms) this is only for the determined social animal. It’s also limited to 18 to 35 year olds only so if you’re the more mature traveller then look elsewhere.
Astor Hostel Group:
With locations in Hyde Park, the British Museum and Queensway these hostels offer a variety of excellent locations, with the added boost of charm and character. Centrally located in the finer spots of London, this would suit the solo traveller looking for a quieter spot.
With all standard amenities including laundry, free wifi, shared kitchens and lounges and no curfew, they also offer continental breakfast for an extra charge. Rooms are comfortable and offer the usual mix of female only, co-ed small dorms and a few twin private rooms. The only caveat is that this is strictly for 18 to 40 years old (Astor Museum Inn is 18 to 25 years only).
This 200 year old former courthouse is where Charles Dickens got the idea for his novel Oliver Twist, so if you like a dose of history when you travel then this is the place for you. However, less workhouse and gruel and more style and free breakfast, you’ll enjoy comfort with your history fix as this hostel offers up to date amenities, including free wifi and bedlinen (towels can be provided for a small fee), internet room, travel shop, kitchen, lounge and basement bar.
Accommodation includes private guest rooms with en suite bathrooms, or a pod bed in mixed or female-only dorms. Or you can even opt for one of the seven police cells if you want the full courtroom experience.
Located a ten minute walk from King’s Cross Station, which connects you to the underground and rail network.
Palmer’s Lodge, Swiss Cottage:
With a raft of awards under its belt it’s easy to see why this hostel is a traveller favourite. Located in a Grade II listed building and once the home to the heir to a biscuit empire, this grand building is stacked with an eclectic mix of antiques. You don’t compromise on location either. With just a two minute walk to the nearest Underground stop, this makes it a great choice for those who want a quieter, more relaxed location but still with easy access to London’s nightlife and sightseeing spots.
Single-sex or mixed accommodation, 4-bed to 28-bed dorms. Open 24 hours, self-service kitchen, laundry, car park facilities (£5 per day), bar, breakfast and food, free wifi, lockers, safes and luggage store.