The prospect of finding purse friendly accommodation in London is always one mean feat. Last year I booked into a hotel in the capital which based on its Trip Advisor reviews and photographs passed my “thou shalt not stay anywhere where it looks like I could be murdered”. I paid £120 for the privelage of sleeping in my pyjamas, showering in my socks, playing scenes from Taken over in my head, writing a will in my iPhone Notes App and deleting any incriminating text/photos.
“Over my dead body would I stay in a hostel” I’ve been known to say. Upon hearing that one word “hostel” to many it conjures up images of the film of the same name and images of unwashed miscreant travellers with backpacks full of body parts. Jumping to conclusions much? I think so.
When a trip to London loomed on the horizon again I again did the purse friendly search for accommodation which is when I stumbled upon the Clink of hostels in London. As much as with a chain hotel you’re more or less guaranteed a decent room for your buck, I find a smaller hotels (or hostels) which offer up a dose of personality and some individuality are much more up my street. Uniqueness and charm, that’s what I’m after and with prices from just £13 a night, that’s exactly what the pictures of Clink 78 had in abundance when I happened upon their website.
“Clink78 has all the facilities that even the most demanding backpacker could wish for” the website promises, but does it have all the facilities that a demanding blogger could wish for?
Location, Location, Location
Clink 78 is situated a 5-10 minute stroll away from Kings Cross Station, OR a 2 minute bus ride on the number 63 bus from the stops outside the station just incase your feet are burning from a long day of sight seeing/dancing up a storm. There is a bus stop right outside the hostel. This makes Clink ridiculously convenient for sightseeing around the capital as you can get to pretty much anywhere from Kings Cross. There’s a travel shop inside the hostel where you can get information on Oyster Cards, tube maps, bus timetables the best places to go in London which means that even if you’re a bit of a London newbie like me, there’s little chance that you’ll get lost.
Clink 78 is a little different from most hostels, in fact there’s one intriguing sleeping arrangement they offer which really caught my eye. As the building in which Clink is housed used to be a courthouse, it still has the original cells where prisoners were kept prior to trial. And you can sleep in them. Sound a little creepy? It’s really not. As long as you’re not phased by confined spaces (you can touch either side of the cell if you stand with your arms out) this is the perfect alternative to sharing a same sex or mixed sex dorm. Pick a partner in crime, bunk up and play at being criminals without the whole “being locked up for the majority of the day” issue. I had one small fault with “the cell” (which is the same issue I’ve had with rooms in bigger hotel chains) and its all down to planning… the plug sockets aren’t located near the mirror in the room which may seem trivial, but when you’re trying to achieve bedhead waves with a waving wand and you can’t see what you’re doing it can be a bit of a nightmare. This was easily swerved by balancing a vanity mirror on the top bunk and standing on my tip toes.
I chose to stay in a Cell because for “the experience” but Clink 78 offers up several room options including mixed dorms, single dorms, private rooms and the extremely girl friend “Birds Nest Room” which has extra mirrors, hairdryers and hooks for clothes. Win.
If the thought of “a shared bathroom” leaves you with the heebeejeebees then I feel ya sister. This is what has always put me off the thought of a hostel. If you’re envisaging hair in the plugholes and stinky toilets (like I did) then you can rest assured that this certainly wasn’t the case – I was more than happy to shower sans socks and after my previous experience, that was a pretty big deal. You’re not going to be getting a power shower – think more a shower post P.E at high school but its enough to wash a day out in the city off you and leave you feeling refreshed. The showerrooms also come complete with built in hairdryers so you have more room in your case for yet another outfit change.
Like with most hostels, Clink 78 offers up some communal areas for guests to wind down after a busy day or to party away the night. There are separate Internet/PC rooms and a TV room. Make use of one of the computers for a couple of quid or if you’ve got your own computer/tablet/smartphone take advantage of the free WIFI throughout the hostel. The Internet & TV rooms are what used to be the old magistrate court rooms and are English Heritage listed. They feature the original wooden panelled walls, docks and judges seat contrasted with modern brightly coloured decor which make Clink such a vibrant place to stay.
Housed in the hostel itself is the Clash Bar – the social hub of Clink 78 which is offers friendly unadulterated fun 7 nights a week and is home to a variety of events and relatively well priced beer. From quiz nights, karaoke, bands, cocktail nights, you’re guaranteed to stumble upon a good night out (or should that be “in” – its a party in the basement!) and gives you chance to mingle with some of the other guests. I was at Clink over the Easter weekend and the breakdancing-bunny-rabbit-come-bar-man was the highlight of my entire evening.
The Morning After
Breakfast is served in the open plan dining area which is located in the downstairs area of the hostel. With an all you can eat breakfast of toast, cereal, tea, coffee and fruit juice its perfect for settling the stomach after one two many drinks at the Clash Bar the night before or even to set you up for a busy day in the city. The breakfast area is abuzz with other guests from 7 through to 11 and you might even spot a hotty or two (or that guy who looked attractive after all of those Clash Bar shots but looks like he woke up in a gutter come the am. Good swerve.)
Clink 78 provides a unique, clean, friendly and conveniently located base for sightseeing in London at a fraction of the price of some of the bigger hotels. This isn’t to be scoffed at, budget doesn’t always mean “no frills”, whether you’re travelling alone or in a group this vibrant hostel offers a bit of a school trip kind of environment with a real social buzz around the building.
I’m already eyeing up a return trip to try and cover all of the things I wanted to do in London but didn’t have time (I’m looking at you, all of the shows in the West End). I’m thinking about booking into the Birds Nest Room next time…what can I say? I like my beauty comforts.