“I actually walked right past it, not noticing the sign and thinking that the building itself was far too pretty to have a London hostel inside.”
I stepped out of the Elephant and Castle train station after arriving in the city from Gatwick airport and was already filled with dread. I had just hauled multiple bags, including a suitcase roughly the size of my body, down three flights of stairs and had now stepped into what appeared to be a random alleyway. The thought of wandering through questionable back streets of London for the next hour with nearly 80 lbs of luggage was hardly how I wanted to start my trip, but as I waited for my maps app to load, I was sure that was exactly how I was about to spend the afternoon. To my surprise, however, my GPS indicated that I was only a few minutes walk from my accommodations for the week, the Safestay London Elephant & Castle hostel.
I made my way to the busy road at the end of the alley, noticing several folks my age chatting and laughing throughout vibrant collection of bars and restaurants nested inside what appeared to be converted storage lockers on the lefthand corner of the street. I walked for only a few minutes with my eyes jumping from my phone to my surroundings, observing renovations to a beautiful old library, multiple quick-service eateries, a golden building with white windows and a large terrace in the front, and a few apartment buildings before reaching the next intersection and seeing that I had somehow passed the hostel entirely. As it turned out, I had actually walked right past it, not noticing the sign and thinking that the building itself was far too pretty to have a London hostel inside.
I easily made my way inside with all of my bags thanks to a smooth ramp out front which brought you up the few front steps’ height to the main door. I was extremely impressed walking inside, taking in a lobby that was not only clean and modern but also well-decorated and newly furnished. The folks at the front desk were both friendly and helpful, and the check-in process was very quick. Since I arrived before their standard 2:00 PM check-in time, I was able to place my things in luggage storage and begin exploring the city at my convenience. First, however, I took a few moments to explore the hostel.
The lobby, three shared sitting areas, and computer rooms are all open, clean, and comfortable. Cozy leather couches are spread throughout the main floor and nicely framed artwork and mirrors decorate the walls. Multiple guidebooks and novels are available for guests in the sitting room adjacent to the computer room, pictured directly above. Luggage storage is also on the main floor, as well as vending machines and bathrooms. A bar, which I did not have the chance to check out, is located on the lower level, and even has a happy hour for guests. The hostel also serves a continental breakfast, available for purchase in the mornings for £4 or the night before for £3.50. Guest rooms located on higher floors are accessible both by stairs and by elevators.
My guest room was spacious, offered much available light, and had two bathrooms located just across the hall. Beds come with linens, bright reading lights, and surrounding curtains for privacy. Generously large metal storage bins are under each bed, and padlocks are available for purchase for very cheap if happened to forget yours and were worried about your possessions. The rooms also had coat racks to hang jackets or towels on and full-length mirrors on the wall, which were nice when getting ready in the mornings and before going back out at night. Free wi-fi is available at the hostel, but the quality of the connection varies depending on your room and is best in the lobby and common areas on the main floor.
The hostel is very close to the Elephant & Castle underground station, which is located on the Northern and Bakerloo lines, so getting to most parts of London is extremely quick. Additionally, many attractions are within comfortable walking distance, particularly the Imperial War Museum, which is located practically around the corner. For the best rates, book directly through Safestay. A full list of facilities, check-in and check-out times, virtual tours, and other important information is available on their website.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you to Safestay for your sponsorship of this post. All opinions are my own.