On my way to London, I had to face the daunting realization that I would have to stay in a room with complete strangers. For some of my viewers, this may not seem like a big deal, however, I would venture to guess that you have stayed in a hostel before. This was not the case for me prior to this experience. The only information I had about hostels came from the internet and the horror movie Hostel, where a few people traveling through Europe were tortured during their stay.
After my flight from Germany, I was so hungry that I had a headache. I grabbed some “linner” (lunch and dinner combined), which happened to be healthy and cheap. In Europe, you do not have to pay an exorbitant amount of money to eat healthily. Following check-out, I faced a difficult travel choice: traveling by train (45 minutes) from the airport to London for 21 pounds or by bus (1 hour 45 minutes) for 8 pounds. I ended up taking the bus because it was cheaper, I had time to spare, and I thought it would be a great way to see the English landscape. It wasn’t as beautiful as I had imagined, however, because it was terribly dirty. There was trash all throughout the city, and loads of people on the street. There was also a couple on the bus doing some very inappropriate things, which contributed to a less than stellar first impression of the city.
The bus dropped us off at the Kings Cross station, and then it was up to me to find my way. Luckily, a fellow bus rider was familiar with the area so he pointed me in the right direction. The best thing about the Keystone Hostel , was its proximity to the main Tube and rail stations. I literally walked 5 minutes to the hostel from the bus stop.
I booked my room a month prior to my stay, and the only option I had to choose was a basic 4-bed coed dorm room in the basement. This room was equipped with air-conditioning, but it did not have any windows. It was humid and dark, yay (sarcasm)! The beds were assigned in this hostel, and I ended up with a bottom bunk. Most people prefer the bottom bunk because they’re automatically entitled to the storage space under the bed. I prefer the top bunk, however, because I am less likely to find someone sitting on my bed or standing on it to reach the top bunk. Fortunately, I had good roommates during my stay. On the first day, there was a lady from Canada who taught middle school grades for a living. The other resident on the first day was a male from Argentine, who was a former boxer and worked in the family business. I was a bit nervous about sharing a room with them, but they both proved to be really interesting, and they were able to offer me some great tips and recommendations for exploring London. For the rest of my stay I roomed with an Asian family, a group of Swiss travelers and an elderly person on “holiday.”
The bathroom was down the hall. Luckily, I had a small bag to tote my belongings. There was a coed restroom and separate shower stalls that opened directly to the hallway. After inquiring about other alternatives, I discovered an all-girls restroom with shower stalls in the room on the second floor that I used. It was a safer and cleaner option.
The Common Room
The common room was in the basement. There was no stove, but there was a television. I watched the equivalent of “Cops,” in the England, and the worst that happened was a drunk girl was caught in mud.
The rooftop patio is fantastic. It’s like a small English garden in the middle of a great big city.
On my way to my tour of London town!
First day in a hostel selfie. I don’t normally take selfies, but I have a blog to update people! lol
Top 12 Hostel Tips
1. Bring a “sleep sheet,” or something that you can put on top of a sheet. I slept in one morning and I literally watched housekeeping just remake a bed instead of changing everything (ew!)
2. Make sure you have a lock for your luggage and for a locker
3. It may be a good idea to use liquid soap, especially if you tend to drop bar soaps on the floor (that dozens of people use per week)
4. Bring flip flops to wear in the shower/Avoid the showers at rush-hour times to avoid ques (lines)
5. Clorox Wipes. I am a neat-freak and a germaphobe. I am also a grad student on a budget, so I had to stay in a hostel for this leg of my trip. Luckily, I had my wipes so I was able to wipe down shower fixtures
6. Pack a plastic bag to act as a shower caddy (you will need one)
7.Some people prefer to wear ear plugs at night, however, if you are a first timer like I was, then you want to hear everything, for safety reasons, especially when you’re sharing a room with strangers
8. Use the free maps and discount tickets at the front desk
9. It’s okay to talk to your roommates, and maybe even attend group events, but do not disclose too much information…they’re still strangers
10. Leave the area in the same way you would like to find it. It’s just common courtesy
11. Use Hostelworld or Hostelbookers for finding a good hostel
12. Don’t be surprised if you have to room with a family or an elderly person