It’s no wonder London is one of the top backpacking destinations in Europe – this is one cool capital with everything you’d ever want from a weekend city break.
On a typical day in London you can be amazed by Buckingham Palace and Big Ben, shop ’til you drop on Oxford Street, check out the cultural delights along the Southbank, stuff your face at Borough Market, and strut your stuff at an edgy East End nightclub or a swanky dancefloor in the West End. Then there’s all the green spaces and beautiful parks when you want to escape from the big smoke.
But with so much on offer in this sprawling metropolis, picking a youth hostel in London can be tricky. Do you go for an area with the hippest nightlife, keep close to the city center, or pick somewhere quieter to chill out after a day of sightseeing? With London’s excellent transport network of tubes and buses, you’ll always be able to get around easily, but here’s a guide to the top places to stay in the capital. If you don’t fancy going through all our properties here is a list of just top rated london hostels.
The home of alternative cool, Camden is where you’ll find more music fans and pierced, tatooed and dyed inhabitants than any other part of North London. The famous market is packed with stalls selling cheap records, clothes and delicious food, the Lock is a great place to watch the world go by on a sunny day, and Camden Town is full of pubs, bars and venues for live music. The nightlife is great, and central London is only a short tube ride away if you fancy checking out the rest of the sights.
Best for: Students, party animals and rock chicks.
Where to Stay: St Christopher’s Inn Camden
London Bridge has had a fresh lick of paint in the past few years – now you can find a couple of hip clubs (Shunt, The Arches), the Menier Chocolate Factory Theatre and dozens of gastro pubs along Borough High Street. Then there’s the foodie haven Borough market, with dozens of stalls selling gourmet grub (and handing out free samples). The area is is also home to a couple of lively hostels, whose guests congregate at Belushi’s Bar for cheap drinks.
Best for: Foodies, backpackers on a budget.
Where to Stay: St Christopher’s Inn Village, or the neighbouring Orient Espresso.
Waterloo is a haven for culture vultures – not only is the Imperial War Museum, Old and Young Vic Theatres within easy reach, all the sights along the Southbank are a short stroll away – you can check out the BFI, Hayward Gallery, National Theatre, Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe in one fell swoop. Walking along Waterloo bridge boasts some beautiful views of the city, and for a better look you can ride the London Eye. There are plenty of bars and restaurants overlooking the river- try Giraffe for some tasty world food, and discover hidden bars like Scooter Works (scooter shop by day, bar by night) tucked away on Lower Marsh.
Best for: A cultured city break, artsy types, couples looking for a romantic view.
Where to Stay: The Walrus, a boutique hostel housed above a stylish pub.
The posh areas of West London are home to leafy streets of grand townhouses, and some have been converted into some of the most comfortable budget accomodation around. From your plush pad, discover the free museums in South Kensington – the V&A, Natural History Museum and Science Museum, and then head over to Knightsbridge for window shopping in the grand department stores Harrods and Harvey Nichols. There are plenty of chic bars and restaurants dotted around, but the quiet and safe streets are a welcome antidote to the more manic center of town.
Best for: Families, couples, travelers looking for a chic but cheap city break.
Where to Stay: The Astor Kensington a chic hostel in an elegant townhouse, or the The Chelsea House Hotel for families and older couples.
If you want to be in the heart of the action, why not stay right in the city center? The flashing neon lights of Piccadilly Circus, buzzing bars in Soho, and lively clubs in the West End guarantee non-stop fun. For food check out Chinatown and for culture, catch a film in Leicester square, a musical in the West End, or the National Gallery’s huge collection of art. Covent Garden’s piazza bustles with stalls and street performers by day, and bars and pubs by night. For bargain shopping, you can’t beat Oxford Street. If you don’t mind noise and crazy crowds, then central London is perfect for you!
Best for: 24-hour party people, young and lively backpackers.
Where to Stay: YHA London Central, right in the heart of the West End.
LS – Been to any of these hostels? Then get in touch and write a review for us! Or if you know any other top places to stay in London, let us know!