Solo Travel in London: Chic & cheap
Susan Radcliffe is a qualified journalist with 5 years experience writing for internet, radio and television. She is also a keen traveler based in London. She shares her knowledge of the city’s hotels, apartments and hostels for the London based hotel price comparison site Tube Hotels.
Full of friendly faces and relatively cheap, hostels can be a great accommodation option for those of us who travel solo. In areas of central London, where few hotel rooms sell for under £100, they can cut your accommodation bill by a factor of 10. Let’s not lie; some of them can be a bit grim and basic. But they can also be something completely different – stylish, surprising, special. How about sleeping in an old prison, an art gallery or the home of a Victorian biscuit entrepreneur? These are some of London’s most unusual hostels.
This hostel was the local Court House in a former life. The building dates from the beginning of the 19th century. Many criminals have been imprisoned here over the years whilst awaiting trial, including punk legends The Clash, who were held in the cells after being accused of firing guns at passing pigeons. The Court moved out in 1997, and, quite appropriately, given its rock and roll former residents, the building was redeveloped as a party hostel with an underground bar. It’s centrally located in the Kings Cross area of London, just around the corner from the station. Perfect for party lovers, this area has plenty of pubs and clubs to choose from.
Piccadilly Backpackers Hostel
This hostel has turned itself into an art gallery with a unique project to paint and decorate its walls. Instead of magnolia it’s got bold tigers and birds in rainforest scenes, Banksy-style stencils and blue cityscapes. These are the creations of a collection of different artists who have been invited in to decorate its bedrooms and public areas. The hostel is perfect for those who appreciate all the arts, because it’s close to the theatres and cinemas of London’s West End.
This grand house was built in 1880 for Samuel Palmer, of the Huntley & Palmers Biscuit Empire. When he died, in 1903, it was turned into a children’s hospital and after the Second World War it was used as a training school for nurses. It was left empty for nearly a decade after 1995, but then bought and brought back to life to provide accommodation for travellers on a budget. Its imposing stone fireplaces and elegant wooden staircases have been wonderfully restored. This beautiful hostel is perfect for those who want to discover the historic side of London, giving them the chance to live like a Victorian gent. It’s in the north of the city, just outside the centre, but within walking distance of attractions like Camden Market and the Freud Museum. It’s near Swiss Cottage tube station which gives easy access into the centre of London within a few minutes.