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London is a place of superlatives – it is by far the largest city in Western Europe, it has the most green spaces, it is one of the most diverse and exhilarating. However, it is also one of the most expensive and hotel accommodation is at a premium. It is also a place in constant flux, with ongoing regeneration. But for the savvy tourist, there are accommodation options which aren’t out of reach, even within London’s most exclusive areas. Staying in a central location with good tube links is a definite plus in London, and these four areas deliver.
As an introduction to London, Southwark has it all: the famous London and Tower Bridges stretch across the Thames and the picture-postcard views of Big Ben, The Houses of Parliament, St. Paul’s and The City. For excellent vantage points, Southwark boasts both the London Eye and the Shard, offering views across the whole city. For culture-lovers, Southwark offers the Tate Modern, the Oxo Gallery and the Royal Festival Hall, whilst Westminster is just a short walk or tube ride away. Foodies, meanwhile will delight in Borough Market, located near London Bridge. There is a lot of expensive accommodation here, but there are also guesthouses and budget hotels available if you look hard enough.
Made famous by the film of the same name, Notting Hill attracts streams of tourists to the lively Portobello Road markets, many of whom also come looking for Hugh Grant’s blue front door. With houses painted in a rainbow of pastel shades, Notting Hill feels a bit like a section of Cornwall lifted and set into the middle of leafy, whitewashed Kensington, and it has plenty of alternative, independent shops and cafes to keep any bohemian happy. It is well connected to the rest of London, whilst feeling almost like its own village. Kensington has some of the most expensive hotels in the whole of London, but around Notting Hill, it’s possible to find B&Bs and small hotels offering reasonable prices, particularly outside of the main Summer Season.
London’s East End used to be one of the poorest and most run-down areas of the city, but now it is the parade-ground for trendsetters. The areas of Shoreditch, Brick Lane and Hoxton retain a grungy feel - graffiti tours are a key attraction here – and ‘distressed’, arty-looking warehouses sit side-by-side with genuinely distressed, tumbling-down buildings. Still, independent businesses run by young entrepreneurs are booming here, and now visitors in the know are seeking out boutique hotels and quirky restaurants. Hotels here are generally mid-range, but it is possible to find some which, in London anyway, count as budget. If you’re looking to party in London or to explore pop-up shops, then Shoreditch is the place to be.
Offering a similarly alternative vibe to Shoreditch, Camden is better placed to access the rest of London. Situated just north of Regent’s Park, Camden provides wonderful access to this huge green space, which includes London Zoo, so it can be a good option for families. A wander up the Parkway towards the Camden Town tube offers a range of delightful, cosy-looking restaurants, as well as live music venues, making it a good option for a more relaxed night out. Further up, at Camden Locks, things get rather more hectic, with tourists spilling in and out of the markets, but it’s a fun place to spend the day – and there are some great street-food stands. There is a greater range of budget accommodation here than anywhere else listed, making it an all-round good choice.
louisecwar Pickwick Hall was great, the staff were friendly and very helpful, was very close to everything, either on the tube or walking, would stay there again.
111 Grosvenor Road PimlicoAwesome 88%
bluewaav I stayed at Travel Joy Hostel in April 2010. The thing that impressed me the most about the hostel was the friendly, helpful staff. They really made my stay, so much so that, on the way back, I stayed there again! The negatives about the hostel were the rickedy beds. The first time I stayed there, I got a top bunk. There only was a bar on one side (it's a good thing that I don't move a lot when I sleep!) and on the other side was a gap before the wall, so I could have easily fallen off the bed. It made me nervous. The sheets were scrupulously clean and the comforter was warm. The bathrooms were decently clean, but the shower drain clogged once and water spilled everywhere. I liked the modern decor everywhere. Also, the hostel seemed to be in a perpetual state of construction. They must be doing some remodling. The showers and toilets were pretty nice. The hostel has internet facilities. I didn't need to use laundry facilities so I didn't check to see if they had any. The computers are pretty quick, which is nice, because you don't always get that! The hostel has a bar that is pretty much always open, so you can get a pint whenever you want. The Thai restaurant opens at 6 PM. The food was pretty good- not fantastic- but good enough for a hostel restaurant. By the way, stay away from pear cider (bad, bad headache)! The free breakfast in the morning was good, but began a little late, not until 8:30. That is fine of you are just sightseeing, but if you have to catch an early flight (mine was at noon), then you can't eat breakfast! Just so you know, it takes two hours to get to Heathrow from this hostel, so budget your commute to the airport accordingly. The hostel is located on the Victoria line of the tube, which is a pretty good line. I found it easy to get from place to place using both the tube and the bus. The popular 24 bus goes right passed the hostel. To get to the hostel, you go to Pimlico Station. It is about a half hour walk to get to the hostel along the Thames, but you seem to do a lot of walking in London, anyway. Just make sure that you have a well-made backpack for walking a bit! And that's it. Oh, I should mention that the hostel isn't wheelchair accessable. So if you have physical handicaps, know that you will have to walk up a couple slightly narrow flights of stairs to get to your room. Maybe it would be better to go somewhere that has a lift?
luluwu_87 Staff is really friendly and accommodating. Great value for money. A wonderful first impression of backpacking in London.
siijiska Very nice little hostel very close to Hyde Park. One has to walk a bit from the underground but there are several buses, and the location is really central. The hostel is situated in a very charming old building, there is lot of space in the dorms, and the staff is really friendly! We had a little trouble staying here, with people getting placed in each other's beds etc. but the staff was always nice and eager to help us out with all problems. They say 24h reception, but quite often it seemed to be noone there at night, so if you're in a hurry and must check out in the middle of the night you better tell them in advance. Nice and clean dorms and showers, unfortunately the water pipes makes a noise in the entire building when used. But overall, I had a nice stay at Astor Hyde Park and could recommend it.
slihartley Me and a friend stayed here for 5 days, and if I'm staying in London again I'd definately come back here! The hostels very clean, the breakfasts great and the location is just perfect. The staff were really friendly and helpful- my bag got stolen while I was out on my second day and everyone went out of their way to help when I got back to the hostel. There's a lovely laid back atmosphere and lots of places were you can sit around and chat. A brilliant hostel, I'd really recomment it.
81 Kensington Garden Square Bayswater W2 4DJAwesome 87%
irena_m_g The hotel is located in a very quiet but central London area - very near Queensway station on Central line. That is what I liked most actually. It is on a square street along with other hotels. In front of the hotel there was a very nice small park but it turned out to be private. We have booked a twin room but on site it turned out to be a double with additional bed, which made it almost impossible to maneuver in the room. Nice and clean private bathroom, LCD TV but only three channels available. Cheap continental breakfast and nice view. However, there were only two computers downstairs, taking coins and it was quite expensive to use those as the connection was very slow and the 50p for 10 minutes was a ridiculous rate. It is a better option to take your laptop with you as Wi-Fi is available in the rooms. Luggage service offered, but anyone can get access to the luggage room and it seemed quite unsafe.
cocorosie A nice hostel with good atmosphere, in the heart of London. Friendly and helpful staff. The room was clean, with a ok standard. YHA London Oxford Street gives you value for your money. I would recomend this hostel for everybody who wants to live central for a low cos!
carmensoph The location of the Walrus is perfect if you want to explore a little bit of London - the London Eye and the Southbank are within walking distance and the staff are always very helpful and nice.
armmc The staff, room, location and food was awsome!!! We defenetly recommend anyone to stay in this hostel.
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