It’s the age old story. Rock up to London, spend all your money on hookers, blow, and somewhere to sleep.
With my UK youth mobility visa, I’ve spent my fair share of time in London town. I’ve never loved it enough to set up camp there, but I do enjoy it more and more each time. And I’ve discovered a couple of inns worth stopping into.
Back in the day, young antipodeans would flood into the mother land, seeking a job in a pub with attached sleeping quarters. Now it’s a little different. They rock up with their degrees, experience, and suitcases (do people still use suitcases?) wanting real jobs.
London becomes home instead of its initial appeal as a base to travel from. People’s pounds are swiftly lost up their noses, drowned in pints, and swallowed by Primark.
For those who choose London as a stopover or a tourist destination in itself there are hostels aplenty to choose from. Two that I have found myself in hark back to the days of pub downstairs, beds up (steep) stairs.
I walk into the brand spankin’ new Exmouth Arms PubLove hostel on a less than gloomy Thursday afternoon from the closely proximated Euston station. Hauled myself in may be a more appropriate description with 40kg of luggage in tow. “It’s for work,” I repeat more times than is necessary. I don’t want people thinking I’m not a real backpacker.
As The Exmouth Arms has just launched that day, I am assisted with my bags by the owner and only the second person to check in. Chuffed, I settle into my 6-bed female dorm which is mine alone for the night.
Smell that? Fresh paint. Feel that? Clean and fresh never slept in linen. The good thing about brand new hostels is they have the opportunity to get things right from the beginning. Not try and fix up someone else’s mistakes. The get-rights are a room light that turns on at a low wattage, slowly increasing it’s brightness. Big tick. And the big bathrooms. So fresh and so clean clean.
While it’s easy to get comfy in this comfy abode, I can’t put it off any longer. I walk downstairs to try a burger from the famed Burger Craft. Their Juicy Bastard has been named one of the top five in London. I order a Pull My Pork, thinking the Juicy Bastard might be too much this time of the day. I turn out to be be a porky pig not realising this came with beef as well as pulled pork. But this hunk of gourmet meat in a bun tastes as good as I had in the southern restaurants of New York. Surely, a culinary achievement.
The hostel is above a noisy and popular gastropub. Take your pick from the well stocked choices of ale, many brewed in London. Get to know your fellow travellers, amongst the locals knocking back a few after their hard day, dreaming of their cheap EasyJet flight out of London.
Another hostel I’ve found myself in three separate times is Travel Joy Chelsea, no wonder it feels like home. Super friendly staff, well-designed rooms, great wifi, and an activity-packed pub all contribute to a big thumbs up.
But my favourite? The best of the best bit? Their breakfast. They’ll whip you up a fresh smoothie, and an omelette as you like it. All alongside very appeasing continental offerings. Another nice perk? Free drinks for guests. Yes, the non-alcoholic kind, but the quench your thirst or perk you up at all hours kind. They also serve plenty of the aforementioned kind.
Now if you haven’t heard a thousand times before, London is expensive. Honourable mentions for your stay go to your friend’s couch and a continual loop of the underground to catch your z’s.