London Hostels: Guide to Hostelling and Hostels in London

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Generator Hostel, London

London's Generator Hostel is a great place to stay and meet other travelers from all over the world

Whether it’s to hear the chimes of Big Ben or marvel at majestic, browse museums and galleries or the boutiques of Bond Street, London makes one of the most exciting city breaks in the world. This sprawling, multicultural city is packed with things to see and do, and a typical evening could take you from a quiet pint in a traditional pub, to an edgy warehouse party in the east end.

But one thing uniformly acknowledged is that London is one pricey city – from eating out to getting around, the capital’s high prices can put travelers off. But there’s loads of ways to stick to a budget in London – most of the city’s top museums are free to get in. and there are dozens of cool markets for stocking up on cool clothes or cheap eats.

There’s no shortage of budget accommodation either, with plenty of London hostels in the city center. Hostels have come a long way in recent years, and some have the facilities, private rooms and chic decor you’d expect from a boutique hotel. Still, a first-time stay in a hostel can be daunting, with an overwhelming range of hostel types available. Here’s a guide to the choosing a hostel in London:

Where to Stay

London hostels are located all over the city, from right in the heart of the West End, to the more residential outskirts. Where you choose to stay depends on what you want to do in the capital.

West London, Notting Hill and Bayswater are ideal for browsing the designer boutiques in Knightsbridge, visiting top museums like the V&A, Science and Natural History Museum. Hostels in the West End are the most central, but also in the noisiest and most hectic area on London, close to the busiest nightclubs, Oxford Street’s bargain shopping and the delights of Soho, Piccadilly Circus, Covent Garden and Chinatown.

There are several backpacker hostels in South London, close to London Bridge and the Southbank, perfect for culture vultures who want to visit the Globe, the National Theatre and the London Eye. Then there are hostels in Camden, an area packed with pubs and cool clubs for catching a rock gig, as well as the famous market.

But even if you choose a hostel a little out of the city center, getting around London couldn’t be easier. With an excellent public transport system of tubes, buses and even boats, by buying a travelcard you can travel across London quickly as much as you like. So even if you do choose a hostel a little out of the center, the main sights are still within easy reach. Plus there’s something to be said for discovering a little known patch of this diverse city.

Backpacker and Youth Hostels

The traditional hostel caters to cash-strapped students and backpackers, with huge dormitories, shared bathrooms, and the cheapest room rates. But London’s youth hostels are a cut above the rest – many have an extensive range of facilities, from on-site bars and clubs, to BBQ terraces, jacuzzi, and Internet cafes. Hostels like the Generator also have a buzzing atmosphere, helpful staff, and a lively social calendar, with year-round activities from walking tours of the city to Christmas Parties.

Boutique Hostels

This classier type of hostel caters to travelers looking for cheap but chic accommodation. Most boutique hostels in London have private rooms, ensuite bathrooms, and added extras such as LCD TVs, free wi-fi and not a bunk bed in sight. Hostels like the UMI London also have funky décor, and a bar lounge for relaxing after a tough day of sightseeing.

Gay Hostels

Gay and Lesbian travelers are spoilt for choice when it comes to London. Not only is it one of the most gay-friendly cities around, with several gay neighbourhoods and excellent nightlife, there are a couple of great gay hostels too. Hostels such as the London Gay House are the perfect place to meet other gay travelers, and get the low down on the top gay spots in the city.

Apartments and Suites

For a little more freedom and privacy on holiday, there are several apartments and suites like the Access Apartments that are perfect for families or large groups of friends. Whether you choose a sleek townhouse in Kensington or a modern apartment, these private rooms are more spacious than your average hotel room, and usually come with great self-catering facilities. You may also want to consider a timeshare apartment as they provide all the same amenities aforementioned and can be found for a much more inexpensive price on the online resale/rental market. Plus, they are owned by high end resorts, so you will also receive great 5-star services while having the privacy and luxury of your very own holiday home.

Summer Lettings

London is packed with student accommodation, and occasionally some rooms are let out during the summer to visitors, such as Sundial Court at the Guildhall School. As students sleep here year round, many of the rooms are private and just as comfortable as a regular hostel, and offer fantastic value for money.

BnBs and Lodges

For a more homely place to stay in the big city, there are several cosy lodges and family-run BnBs in London like the Grapevine Hotel, perfect for couples on a romantic break or small families.


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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Peter Jossnen

I have spent a lot of time in hostels in London. My top ten hostel recommendations are:

YHA London Central
UMI London
Palmers Lodge Hostel
Generator Hostel
The Walrus Hostel
Clink Hostel
Astor Hyde Park Hostel
St. Christopher’s Inn Hostel – Greenwich
Astor Victoria
Phoenix Hostel


I stayed at the London Central YHA earlier this year and thought it was quite boring

Jen Hartel


This goes out to Peter Jossnen or anyone who has stayed at or knows anything about The Walrus.

I booked a reservation at The Walrus through hostelbookers but am having a hard time finding any more information out about it (contact, reviews, confirming its existence, etc). Any info or tips?

Thanks a lot!


Kaori Flores

Same here! I wish to have some info on “The Walrus”… can’t find any info on the web… yet I find it interesting… supposedly not expensive and good service.
Jen, please give me your comment if you were there.


Maddy Younger

I am also trying to find out some info about The Walrus! Did any of you guys come across anything useful? I am thinking about booking a few nights there but would like a little bit more information before I do so!

Thanks 🙂

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