Friendly hostels in London for a fun-filled weekend in the capital
A warm and welcoming family-run hostel in London
Exuding the ambience of a friendly shared house, this popular hostel offers homely common spaces and the opportunity to socialise with other guests. Relax in the cosy lounge at Saint James Backpackers with a cup of tea, sinking into the plush leather sofas as you enjoy a film on the HDTV or play a board game with new friends.
A simple breakfast of cereal, toast and jam is available in the mornings, while the owners also provide a complimentary dinner, which includes filling favourites like bangers and mash, so you can save your pennies for sightseeing in the city. A selection of London’s museum greats, like the V&A and the Natural History Museum, are a mere 10 to 15minute bus ride away – as is shopping mecca, Harvey Nichols. After a dose of culture and retail therapy, make yourself lunch and a cup of coffee in the fully stocked kitchen. When the sun’s out, head to the colourful patio and barbecue area, emblazoned in street art depicting the Union Jack and London icons like David Bowie.
Settle into a clean and modern private room featuring an en-suite bathroom, HDTV and comfortable double bed. For those on a budget, opt for one of the sky-blue bunk beds in a two to eight-bed dorm room – great if you’re a solo traveller looking to meet others.
Saint James Backpackers
A modern and eclectic hostel in London
With a trip to Safestay Elephant & Castle hostel, you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d splashed out on a boutique hotel thanks to its cool design and eclectic feel. The common spaces, including the lobby and breakfast room, feature eye-catching fuchsia walls, multicoloured striped carpets and fun Pop Art-inspired wall decor. Check into a stylish dorm, with those on offer fitting between four and 12 people. As well as being playfully decorated in tones of vibrant pink and purple, they come with essentials like bedding, lockers and a reading light.
For a space of your own, private rooms are ideal. Make yourself a coffee and rest up in your plush bed before freshening up under the en-suite power shower. Afterwards, head to the hostel bar to sip on a light beer, snack on pepperoni pizza and exchange tips with other travellers. There’s also a pool room, so you can challenge friends to a game.
Dig into a breakfast of toast, jam and warm buttery croissants, as well as tea, coffee and juice, to energise you for the day ahead. Elephant & Castle’s access to the Bakerloo tube line makes it easy to get into Central London within 10 minutes. Take on Bond Street for a day of window shopping or browse contemporary art at the Tate Modern or the Hayward Gallery in the Southbank Centre.
Safestay London Elephant & Castle
A large and sociable hostel in London near Victoria
Base yourself just a 20 minute walk away from Buckingham Palace and the picnic-ready Hyde Park with a stay at the large and laidback Astor Victoria hostel. There’s a social atmosphere in the sizable kitchen where you can cook up pasta for your clan or have a glass or two of Pinot with other guests. Spread out on the family-style wooden benches and consult the chalkboard for fun weekly social activities.
Your bright and airy dorm room offers impressive city views from the large Victorian windows. Stow your bags in the complimentary lockers and chill out in your postbox-red bunk (comfy linens are provided and towels are available for hire). For the hostel experience but with added space, opt for a private room featuring cosy single, twin or double beds. Some of these rooms also have their own sink.
Start the day right with a simple all-you-can-eat breakfast of cereal and toast for a small price or find a number of cafés on your doorstep. Pimlico Fresh serves excellent brunch options like Spanish eggs, while Cask Pub & Kitchen is known for its juicy burgers. Both are less than a 5 minute walk away. On return, settle down in the homely lounge, complete with comfy leather sofas and quirky Union Jack cushions. Gather a group together and make the most of the big projector screen for a relaxed night in watching the latest Netflix release.
A contemporary hostel in London with a rustic feel
This friendly East London hostel has a colourful history, having served as cheap and cheerful accommodation for sailors in the Victorian era. Fast forward to the present day and the updated interior at wombat’s CITY Hostel London combines contemporary fittings and furnishings with a luxe rustic feel. In the lobby-meets-lounge room, you’ll see reclaimed wood benches, vintage-style velvet seating and modern studio-effect lighting. It’s the ideal spot for work, a mid-morning coffee with friends or catching up on some reading.
Meet up with travel companions or make new ones at the hostel’s quirky underground womBar featuring exposed brickwork and high stools. Shoot pool, order a beer or two and chat to the friendly staff about the top local spots for drinks, dinner or sightseeing. Just a 10 minute walk away you’ll find the Tower of London, while the vintage shops around Brick Lane – not to mention the characterful curry houses – are just an 18 minute stroll. After a night pub hopping in trendy Shoreditch, don’t miss the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet (there’s a small extra charge for this). Sample hot cheese toasties, cereal and fruit paired with a freshly brewed coffee to give your day a kickstart.
Get a good night’s rest in your comfortable, bright dorm room after a refreshing shower under the modern bathroom’s power shower. Bedding and lockers are provided, while tall sash windows add a sense of space and light.
wombat's CITY Hostel London
A colourful, sociable Soho hostel in London
Situated in the heart of theatre-packed Soho, this social hostel is the ideal pick for millennials, offering ample common areas and relaxation spaces. Make a beeline for the large bar-lounge to mingle with like-minded travellers on the bright orange, lime green and hot pink bean bags.
Choose from a three to 18-bed mixed dorm at SOHostel or go for a female-only room with a private en suite for a weekend away with the girls. Find yourself with plenty of space for luggage and sturdy, comfortable bunks in a simple and contemporary space painted in white with splashes of orange.
During Happy Hour, grab a locally brewed Meantime lager at the on-site bar and sign up for one of its themed nights out. The hostel also has a Hawaiian-style rooftop, complete with faux grass and a tiki bar, so you can relax and soak up views of London when it’s sunny. Before a night at the Piccadilly Theatre – less than a 10 minute walk away – dress for the occasion in the Hollywood-inspired pamper room, complete with light bulb mirrors and hair dryers to help you look your best. Feeling peckish? The hostel’s on-site restaurant offers home-made artisanal burgers and fries, fish and chips, and pizza for relaxed dinners with friends.
A young and hip hostel in London
The quirky Generator hostel is a design aficionado’s heaven, with every room – from the dorms to the cinema – combining functionality with style. In the lobby, vibrant geometric prints adorning walls and Scandi-style furniture make for an on-trend atmosphere. Head to the zinc-clad Generator café and order yourself a barista-made coffee to catch up on some reading in the egg-shaped chairs. Or get social in the slick hostel bar, replete with wooden high-top tables and supple leather seating. For a novelty ‘London’ experience that will liven up your Instagram feed, hole yourself up in the bar’s authentic red Routemaster bus.
Jump on the Victoria line at King’s Cross for the 10 minute journey to Oxford Circus and do a spot of shopping at renowned department store Selfridges. After a fun day browsing the racks, return to your room with your haul. Dorms adhere to the hostel’s style cues with paint-box brights running throughout, while soft beds and modern bathrooms with power showers provide the necessary comforts. Opt for a twin en suite or a quad room if travelling with a partner or friends for the benefit of added privacy. There’ll be a handy desk and Eames-style chair if you’re working on that blog or Skyping your family.
A city central hostel in London above a pub
Situated in the city’s bustling business district, St Christopher’s is surrounded by skyscrapers and is just a 15 minute walk away from famous structures like the Gherkin. At the same time, it’s only a 13 minute stroll from hip Shoreditch, where you can shop for vintage clothing and records in between sampling tantalising fusion street food at Old Spitalfields Market.
Rooms at St Christopher’s are simple and modern, featuring geometric floor and wall designs as well as Banksy-esque prints. Opt for a sociable dorm if you’re looking to make friends or a private double if having your own space appeals. Either way, you’ll find comfortable beds with soft linens, numerous USB points and complimentary hair dryers. Once you settle into your dorm for the night, close your individual curtain for added privacy.
Prepare for the day ahead with a complimentary breakfast of fruit, toast and jam, washed down with juice and a coffee. Less than a 25 minute walk away from the hostel, explore sights like the bustling Columbia Road Flower Market. After a few hours of strolling round the sights, you’ll no doubt have worked up an appetite. Luckily, St Christopher’s on-site pub offers hearty grub like home-made burgers, pizzas and steak and ale pie. What’s more, as a guest of the hostel, you’ll get a discount on food.