Lovely London, spendy but friendly, is a must-see travel spot in 2012. You can still find accommodation for the London 2012 Olympics, and it needn't cost a fortune. A West End London hostel (north of the Thames River, west of Piccadilly Circus) is the best way to go for budget lodging in London -- Astor Museum, London Backpackers and Ace Hotel are among favorites. Try the Wake Up London hostel for cheap, safe lodging. You can walk to nearby Hyde Park and take the tube everywhere, like outdoor markets or Notting Hill. Ask to see a hostel room before you pay and choose a dorm (several bunks in one room) for the cheapest London lodging. Expect to pay $25-$35 for a London hostel bunk.
An Interactive Map of Best Hostels in London
Astor Museum Inn
So close to the British Museum guests can almost reach out and touch the Elgin Marbles, the Astor Museum Inn is based in one of those lovely old city mansions so undisturbed by the passing years one almost expects Beau Brummell to emerge at any moment. Rooms range from two to 12 beds and there's internet access, cooking facilities, no curfew and, for those who enjoyed the last century, a fax service. The only bad news is that this is a strictly 18s to 35s joint (and they will check your ID), so children and old timers will have to get their stolen Greek artefact kicks elsewhere.
• 27 Montague Street WC1, +44 (0)20-7580 5360, astorhostels.co.uk, from £15pp (groups from £12pp)
Located in a quiet, residential area west of central London, the Ace Hotel is the ideal hostel for those who are looking for a quiet and clean hostel to stay at in London.
Located near the Baron's Court Tube Station on the Piccadilly Line, the Ace Hotel is located about two to three blocks away by foot, so you will not have to carry your bags too far. The hostel is far from the crowds of central London and is a short distance (less than thirty minutes) from Heathrow Airport. It is not the most accessable at night and will required a cab ride to get to after the tube stops running. The Ace Hostel is a colorful, multiple floor hostel that fits into the neighborhood, probably because it is a series of remodeled houses. There is twenty-four-hour service at the desk. As in a hotel, key cards are needed to access the front door, hallway doors, and room doors.
The hostel includes a lounge and bar with a pool table, flat panel TVs, and plenty of couches, chairs, and other comfortable furnishings. There is a garden area located near the bar that is an excellent place to relax on a warm day. There is a computer room with several computers for internet access and office tasks. The room also doubles as a luggage storage room as you will learn when you arrive before the 2 p.m. check-in time.
The rooms are very clean. The beds and bedding are brand-new and quite comfortable. The heating in the rooms is excellent, which is nice to have when sleeping in winter. There are private bathrooms scattered on several floors, with tubs located in some bathrooms and showers in some rooms. The showers do take some time to warm up. Towels and other toiletries can be purchased/rented at the front desk along with souvenirs and other items. Some of the items are pricey so do some price shopping before buying candy or toothpaste here. There is a free continental breakfast available in the lower level of the hostel. It is not much, but it will fill you up. Arrive early since the food disappears quickly and is not replenished quickly.
Double and quad rooms and dorms; communal baths.
Ace Hotel address: 16-22 Gunterstone Road, West Kensington, London, England, W14
Styling itself as a boutique hostel, Palmer's Lodge is a graceful Victorian Grade II-listed building that was once home to Samuel Palmer of Huntley and Palmers biscuits fame. Furnished with an eclectic mix of antiques, salvaged furniture from architectural sites and modern classics, the hostel boasts a restaurant in the scullery and a bar (serving cocktails) in the chapel. There are single sex and mixed dorms along with some private rooms for couples. Best of all, if two of you book one of the bespoke Jacobean double beds in a mixed dorm, one of you stays for free. And the beds have curtains around them. too.
• 40 College Crescent NW3, +44 (0)20-7483 8470, palmerslodge.co.uk, from £16pp
If ever a hostel had too much history, it's Clink 78. Not content with being a 200-year-old former courthouse, it just happens to be the place where The Clash stood trial (that particular courtroom is now a TV lounge). In another courtroom (now given over to internet access), Charles Dickens had the idea for Oliver Twist. You can stay in a dorm fitted out with hi-tech pod beds, in a private room or, for the full effect, in one of the seven police cells. With a brand new kitchen, bar, travelshop and a free daily London walking tour, it's a guilty pleasure all right.
• 78 King's Cross Road WC1, +44 (0)20-7183 9400, clinkhostels.com, from £16pp
YHA Oxford Street
After years of trying, the YHA has finally shrugged off its image of huge dorms populated by earnest young people drying out their anoraks over a lukewarm radiator. Indeed, their flash inner-city hostels are pretty much budget hotels nowadays. This Oxford Street number (actually just around the corner on Noel Street) is fresh from a £1.5m refit giving it a sleek contemporary look. For a hostel in the heart of the capital boasting all mod cons (including a café/bar and laundrette), it's fantastically good value. Guests can choose one of the two-, three- or four-bed rooms or, if they feeling a little nostalgic, a small dorm.
• 14 Noel Street W1, 0845 371 9133, yha.org.uk, under-18s £12.50 (£3 extra for non-members), adults £16.65
YHA Holland Park
Offering a completely different vibe to the YHA's brash modern Oxford Street affair (see above), a wing of the building was built in 1607 as a Jacobean mansion. Overlooking Holland Park itself and a within easy walking distance of Kensington's clutch of museums, the 200-bed hostel comprises large comfy dorms with a smattering of smaller rooms. The restaurant (nothing so plebeian as a café!) opens on to a private garden with its own ornamental pond. Sir Walter Scott, Byron, Wordsworth, Sheridan and Charles Dickens all visited the house in their time and would no doubt be thrilled to find that guests can still use a library here.
• Holland House, Holland Walk W8, 0845 371 9133, yha.org.uk, under-18s £12.50 (£3 extra for non-members), adults £16.65
Blue Skies Hostel
Just outside Tulse Hill station, The Railway Tavern claims to possess the largest pub garden in London. With the opening of its swish new Blue Skies Hostel upstairs, it's also one of the capital's few pubs to offer dorm accommodation (mixed dorms, a female only dorm and double rooms). It's close to Brockwell Park's cafés and lido and, while Tulse Hill isn't brimming over with attractions, the pub does hold frequent live music nights. For those on a budget, on Mondays and Tuesdays the pizzas are half price and breakfast is thrown in free every morning. Guests may choose if it's accompanied by a hangover.
• 7 Station Rise SE27, +44 (0)20-8674 4101, therailwaytulsehill.co.uk (but book through hostelworld.com), from £13pp (longterm rates available)
St Christopher's Inn
Warning: this is not a place for shy retiring types who fancy a quiet night in with a cocoa and a crossword. The hostel makes the proud claim that, with its Belushi's Bar, it's "the international party house". Ozzie beer, homemade burgers, televised sports and retro rock 'n' roll sounds provide the buzz, and even the hostel's chill-out room has a 24-hour bar. Close to the Central Line and Shepherd's Bush Empire, the hostel is also a good jumping off point for Notting Hill. Creatures of the night will enjoy the fact that the 24-hour reception means there's no curfew. Let the games begin. • 15 Shepherd's Bush Green W12, +44 (0)20-8600 7500, st-christophers.co.uk, from £19pp (three-, four- and seven-night deals available)
Generator Russell Square
Another locale appealing to those on a mission to suck the very last scrap of marrow out of life, the Generator declares itself "London's largest, liveliest and funkiest hostel". With more than 800 beds in mixed/female dorms and private rooms, the first of those claims is certainly true. Within easy reach of Leicester Square (and, for the more literary minded, the British Library), the hostel has a bar (to 2am), an internet café, chill-out room, games room and laundry facilities. London walking tours are free (as are the continental breakfasts), though the 18-35 crowd the hostel attracts are more likely to be found inside partying.
• 37 Tavistock Place WC1, +44 (0)20-7388 7666, generatorhostels.com, from £23pp
Meininger Hyde Park
A self-styled "hotel and hostel", this German chain's first venture into Britain is a quiet riot of crisp minimalism, clean lines – and a whole lot of red. It's a surprise then to discover that it's in the historic Baden Powell House (there's a 15% discount for scouts). Actually a little way south of Hyde Park but bang opposite the Natural History Museum, Meininger has the usual single, double, shared or dormitory accommodation but with the twist that all rooms have their own private shower and toilet. Equipped with its own bar serving "cider and sandwiches, muffins and cookies", this is hostelling for guests who like everything just so. And why not?
• 65-67 Queen's Gate SW7, +44 (0)20-3318 1407, meininger-hotels.com, from £22.50pp
The Lodge at Crystal Palace
Set in 200 acres of parkland, the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre has been with us since 1964. The Lodge, a lone 10-storey tower in grounds, is not only the only way of staying in the park but is remarkably cheap for a hostel whose largest room sleeps just three. Plus, of course, there's the chance to run on the very same track that Usain Bolt has motored down or swim in the pool where Tom Daley dives (be sure to look up). To get in shape first, there's a state of the art gym (payasugym.com). Or you can just enjoy the park's famous dinosaur trail and maze.
• Ledrington Road SE19, hostelworld.com, from £20.90pp (including breakfast)
London Backpackers Hostel
Single, double and quad rooms and dorms; two communal baths.
London Backpackers address: 8-10 Queen's Parade, London, England NW4
Single, double, family rooms and dorms, communal baths. 1.5 stars.
Piccadilly Backpacker's Hostel address: 12 Sherwood Street London, W1D 7
Wake Up! London
Single, twin, double, triple and quad rooms and dorms; some private baths.
Wake Up London address: 1 Queens Gardens, Paddington, London W2 3BB (map).
Smart Hyde Park View Hostel
Double, twin, quad rooms and dorms; private baths.
Smart Hyde Park View Hostel address: 111 Craven Hill Garden, London, UK (map).
YHA London St Pauls's
Male and female and mixed dorms; communal baths. Strange email etiquette from this place.
Dormitory: $23 (must buy YHA membership - about $6).
YHA City of London address: 36 Carter Lane, London, UK EC4V 5 (map).
The Victorial Inn London
Mixed and female dorms; communal baths.
Astor Victoria address: 71 Belgrave Road, London, UK SW1V
Getting around in London:
The London tube is a major miracle of modern transportation -- learn to love it. Though it's the oldest in the world, London's subway (but don't call it that) is clean, safe and efficient. And if the tube doesn't take you close to your London destination's door, the bus (maybe a double decker!) will.
Plentiful black London cabs have fixed prices -- get a few folks to make a cab's cost equal the tube.
Week's Oyster (tube/bus) pass per day: $6
Food (try Indian curry) - $18/day
Hostel dorm - $30/night