Wow, sorry guys. I have taken quite the hiatus from the blog (and life) over the past week. Thanksgiving weekend took a lot out of me, and then the kid gave me her contagious nasty school disease- since she started school this year we have both been sick more than ever. Coincidence snotty little four year olds? I think not. Then I gave snot disease (ie vomiting) to the Dutchman so we could round it off nicely between the three of us. Now that you have a nice picture of our home over the past week, I am happy to report that I am almost 100% and ready to take on the upcoming holidays with a vengeance. Before I switch to full out holiday mode, I have one last place to share with you, ending the official Fly Away to London series here on the blog. I hope you enjoyed reading about all of the amazing attractions, helpful tips, incredible food tours, and awesome places to stay in London- I will be setting up a London travel page soon to make all of the reviews and posts more accessible.
Today I am sharing my stay with Astor Hyde Park Hostel, you may be familiar with them already as they have been hanging around my sidebar over the past month. I was invited to stay with Astor Hostels during my week in London for the World Travel Market at their Hyde Park location. If you are familiar with London, you know that this is the best neighborhood ever- but more on that later!
The first day when I arrived at Astor Hyde Park Hostel I was in a huge hurry to check-in and get going to my first event. I was happy that the hostel was only a 10 minute walk from Gloucester Road tube station. The staff were friendly from the get-go and super helpful with any question I had. (I had many.) Hyde Park hostel is in an absolutely gorgeous Victorian townhouse, and still maintains many of the original features. Right away it didn’t feel like a normal hostel, and I am still really impressed that such affordable accommodation is possible in this area of London.
In my first ten minutes at the hostel I came across the only negative of my stay and one that taunted me over the next week- the stairs. My room was on the 4th floor, and in order to keep the Victorian era building intact, no elevators have been installed. I’ve been in hotels and hostels aplenty with no elevators (one in Rome still haunts me) but let’s just say, if you can request to be on the first or second floor- you may want to give it a shot. Luckily, there are gorgeous art pieces, London travel tips, and historical anecdotes on the hostel’s historic building along the walls as you go up which ease the pain in your thighs enough to make it to your room. (And embarrassingly fall on your bunk with red face and sweaty pits while you try to compose yourself.) Maybe I should start working out.
The next morning I was able to start exploring the hostel further, beginning with breakfast in the basement. The breakfast/lounge room is a really fun space. There is a foosball table, comfy seating, and amazing London themed murals and art pieces on the walls. It has a bright energy, regardless of the time of day, and always seemed to be buzzing with conversation and friendly faces. I worked at the tables in the room on several occasions, and though I had a few issues connecting to the wifi, it is free and worked fine the majority of the time.
Breakfast is free with your room, and consists of bread, spreads, cereals, coffee and tea. It is incredibly basic, but for most budget travelers that will be absolutely fine. The coffee sucked, gross instant crap. But if you don’t mind nasty coffee, you should note that tea and coffee are available free of charge throughout the day. I loved that the breakfast was put out near the open kitchen because it makes it feel like it belongs to the people staying there as well. I bought my own coffee and food for lunches and dinners the next day and I always enjoyed preparing it with the other hostel guests around. I have felt awkward in other hostel kitchens, so I really loved the family atmosphere at Astor Hostels. There are microwaves, ovens, and stoves, as well as multiple refrigerators for storing your perishable food. When you are done, you are asked to clean your own dishes as well as any mess you have made. No frills maybe, but in exchange you get a place where you instantly belong.
The rooms themselves were clean, with en-suite bathrooms. The beds were comfortable and linen is provided. Basic, but very nice. There are also lockers beneath the bunks, and you can get a padlock from the front desk free of charge. Towels are available for hire (I needed one!) and only cost £2 plus a £3 deposit which you get back on check-out. The floors underneath the bunks were a little dusty, so be sure not to put your clothing directly in the locker if you don’t like grey. The shower and toilet rooms were en-suite, but separate, which is really awesome when you have six people in your room! No complaints. There are also washers and dryers available for use, and soap is available at the front desk for a small charge. They seemed to work just fine, and my clothes definitely smelled much better after!
Astor Hyde Park Hostel is perfect for long term travelers looking for a home away from home, but is perfectly suited for that weekend break in London as well. This is not a “Backpacker Hostel” where drunken gap-year kids are running around screaming out-of-control. The atmosphere is respectful, and the staff are all travelers themselves. Everyone seemed to work together, regardless of nationality, whether the floor needed mopping or beer pong table needed setting up. Astor Hyde Park Hostel only caters to the 35 and under crowd, so do keep that in mind before booking. Luckily I have a few years left before they cut me off.
Astor Hyde Park Hostel has a lot going for it. If you are young (18-35) and looking for a quiet place to crash that still has fun, I would highly recommend a stay here. The building is just gorgeous, and the staff bend over backward to make sure you have what you need. They will write you out directions, call you a cab, print off plane tickets, you name it. Honestly though, the best thing about this hotel is the location.
As you step outside the hostel, incredible places await you at the doorstep. If you turn right, you will be at London’s famous Hyde Park in three minutes. If you turn left, a five minute stroll and you arrive at the Natural History Museum. (Dinosaurs!) The Royal Albert Hall, V&A Museum, Science Museum, and tons of shopping in Kensington are all short walks away as well. Location. Location. Location.
I don’t know about you, but I’ll choose some ice skating at the Natural History Museum any day!
My stay at the Astor Hyde Park Hostel was complimentary for the purposes of this review and in exchange for advertising on this blog. All opinions are my own, and always shall be!
Which area of London is your favorite to stay in?