No matter how passionate you are about hostels and being part of the European traveller scene, sometimes a hostel girl just needs that little bit of extra luxury. By luxury I mean a calmer atmosphere and a really clean and modern environment.
The last month has been conference season in the UK, and most conference days end in a free drink social in a bar or hostel somewhere. Add to this the fact that I’ve been staying in hostels aimed at 18-35 travellers and backpackers ready to party and I was well and truly ready for a rest by the end of last week, plus I was badly behind on updating this blog for you guys!
At the very last minute, I checked out of the hostel I had been staying in and hit the pavement looking for somewhere I could get some work done. I still wasn’t prepared to completely shut myself away in a hotel room, so I chose Safestay Elephant & Castle London.
Safestay London is not your average backpacker’s hostel. In fact, it’s style is more in line with the hybrid hostel/hotels that are an increasingly growing market in Europe. Hybrids offer hotel facilities, such as private en-suite rooms at higher prices, with hostel facilities such as communal areas and bunk-bed dormitories.
I’ve been a little skeptical of the hybrid, but with the need to get work done increasing every day I spent in the usual assortment of backpacker hostels I figured I’d give Safestay a try, quench my curiosity for the hybrid model and test out the atmosphere. As you all know the atmosphere and multicultural communal areas is my priority when it comes to hostel life…so how did I find the environment at Safestay London?
Personally, I thought the communal areas were fantastic. The common area downstairs is large enough that when I needed to get work done I could tuck myself away in a corner (all of which have a great supply of wall chargers!) and get on with it. But when the time came to re-enter the social world all I had to do was walk to the bar, prop myself up on a bar stool and there was always a traveller or businessman/woman ready to chat and make plans for a night out with later. There was also a gorgeous outside seating area where guests tended to mingle and get to know each other. Whilst it was not the busiest of hostel bars, if you did find yourself to be the only one in the area the staff were always willing to get to know you…
I really don’t have one bad word to say about the staff at Safestay London. When I arrived, with no booking beforehand and waving my Go Around Europe card for the 10% discount, I was met by Petra who despite never having used the discount before made every attempt to make me feel welcome while she had a colleague help her put it through the system. Whilst I was waiting, I noticed a picture frame behind her that announced her achievement as ‘Employee of the Month’, and I could definitely see why. Super helpful and extremely welcoming, meeting Petra at reception was a great start to the stay!
Funnily enough, and as you guys would expect, the rest of the staff I got to know worked behind the bar. As I mentioned, the bar is not your average bustling backpacker’s dive, but the bartenders were just as lively and full of jokes as you’d get anywhere else. The best feeling I got from them all was that they were all great friends, staying behind to hang out with each other after shifts and getting to know their guests even when they weren’t working. And if I wasn’t chatting away with David or Irwin in the courtyard area I was being served one of the best coffees by the fabulous Rose, who persevered with the milk steamer to make sure I had a great bit of fluff on top of my cappuccino!
Safestay London isn’t in the heart of London and doesn’t have the best local area to hang out in outside of the hostel, but it does offer great links to the rest of the city. Whenever I’m in London the only transport I ever use is the tube, and if I’m honest I didn’t feel too comfortable on the walk from the tube station to the hostel after dark, when the pavements are quiet and you’re not surrounded by the hustle and bustle of the city.
Directly outside the hostel though is a number of bus stops, and the time it took me to get from Elephant & Castle to Victoria on the bus was almost exactly the same time it would have taken me on the tube, and getting the bus also turned out to be cheaper! Ideally for me, the hostel would be located closer to the tube, however if you’re commuting during the day it is a great location for easy tube and bus access to Waterloo, London Bridge, and Victoria for continued travel.
I stayed in an 8-bed dorm for £23 a night, which is just a couple of pounds over the average price of hostels in London during the winter season. For the luxury style of the hostel, it’s modern hybrid hotel design, and it’s professional staff this isn’t at all unreasonable. However in terms of location, there are cheaper hostels in the centre of London.
Ultimately, if you are looking for a professional building where you can relax in a calm environment whilst still benefit from the social benefits of a hostel common area, Safestay London is a great choice. If you’re looking for a bustling option within a lively area then perhaps it is best for you to look elsewhere.
As always – make sure to book direct in order to find the best rates.
Aside from the odd squeaky bunk-bed, my 8-bed dorm offered great facilities. Each bunk had privacy curtains, which more and more travellers are now coming to expect! Another facility that all hostels should have, and yet still many don’t, is a personal locker for each person in the room, and in Safestay London these large lockers can be found under the bunks for those of you with your own padlock. There was also a personal light for each bunk, but no plug sockets for the top bunks which would have been a huge help. It is also worth mentioning that there is no wifi in the rooms, but there is fast wifi in the common area downstairs.
Finally, all the rooms are en-suite, which makes a lovely luxury change from having to pad around the hallways outside looking for bathrooms. The only issue I really had with the dorm was the entry door, which was extremely loud when closed and with eight in the room could definitely wake you up in the morning.
I had a really great stay at Safestay Elephant & Castle. I definitely think it is a hostel more suited for travelling professionals or those that work on the road and need a calmer environment in which to work in for a few days, but the staff were all fabulous and the common areas so well designed that I’ll definitely be back.
To help you really visualise the hostel, friends of mine at Hostel-Advisor have created a video intro… press play below!
I also mentioned that Safestay London is part of the Go Around Europe hostel card network, so to find out more about how you can get yourself a discount card just click here!
Lots of love,
Safestay is a member of STAY WYSE, the only not-for-profit industry association to represent the entire global youth travel accommodation sector, one of the travel industry’s fastest growing niche markets.