New Staysafe Hostel in Elephant & Castle

I’m pretty sure my nights of sleeping in hostels are finished, but if I had to stay in one in London, I’d be pretty happy to stay in the new Staysafe in Elephant & Castle.

I was invited to check it out for the launch along with a tour of the area (photos from that tomorrow). The hostel itself is in the old Labour party headquarters.

Elephant & Castle doesn’t have the greatest reputation so I was intrigued about the name of this place – Staysafe. Why so sure?

The explanation was that all of the doors, including within the hallways, require a touch card. There will be locked lockers under the beds a suitcase can fit into as well. And it actually did feel quite safe.

In fact it felt a bit like no other hostel I’ve been in before.

My most memorable hostel experience would probably be a toss up between a campsite hostel hut in Venice where we drank at the bar at 9am or the one in Athens that turned into a raving club and didn’t have any toilet paper.

This one has a totally calm vibe. You walk in to cushy carpets, bright colours, a relaxing mix of high and low lighting.

There’s Banksy prints on the walls and so far the bathrooms are pretty pristine.

The breakfast room is huge. There’s a pool table, a bar, and my favourite part – a lovely sculpted garden.

The staff were friendly and inviting.

And the rates for the rooms start at £18 a night if you want to share with 4-8 people.

You can also book a private room for 1-3 from £58.

All the rooms are en-suite with separate toilet and shower – a wet room.

The private rooms include tea and coffee and a TV. All rooms include breakfast.

Not bad for a hostel, eh?

Website: Staysafe Hostel, Elephant & Castle

Hello Fresh

It’s 10pm and I’ve just gotten home from working overtime. The doorbell rings. It’s a man standing there with a smile and two paper bags full of food for me from Hello Fresh. They’d been kind enough to arrange a late delivery.

The bags contain food for the next five days as well as five recipes for which the exact ingredients have been included. If I need 2 carrots, that’s what I’ll find in the bag. One clove of garlic? I find one clove of garlic. You get the picture. I unpack.

I find a personalised note inside and a little bag of chocolates.

The recipes come on sleek black cards with plenty of photos and step by step instructions that are super easy to follow on the back.

(Recipe card for My Thai Green Curry with Chicken Sweet Potato and Basmati Rice, courtesy of Hello Fresh)

Here’s mine:

Recipes for the week are chosen by chefs and nutritionists. You choose the size of your bags and meals. The recipes come to you as a surprise. My recipes were:

1.) More-ish Mozzarella Chicken with Rustic Tomato Sauce and Penne

2.) Tangy Toasted Thai Rice with Fresh Prawns and Cucumber Salad (<– favourite!)

3.) My Thai Green Curry with Chicken, Sweet Potato & Basmati Rice (<– least favourite – too spicy for me!)
Oops – Forgot to take a photo of the final meal for this one. It was a tiring week…that’s my only excuse!

4.) Mamma’s Secret Beef Bolognese with Spaghetti

5.) Millionaire’s Shepherd’s Pie

As a side note: I had a happy flatmate this week because I made him help me eat everything!

Hello Fresh Positives: Surprise recipes are great because you end up cooking new food you may not have thought to otherwise; you keep the recipe cards so you can use them over again if you like them; recipe cards super easy to follow; time saver; orders are well organised; healthy food choices approved by nutritionists; forces you to cook when you otherwise would have tossed something in the microwave which is a good thing for me; can choose size of order; free delivery; food is brilliantly fresh; everything is given in portions so there is less waste; people who work at Hello Fresh are lovely and accommodating.

Hello Fresh Negatives: Surprise recipes can also be negative  because you may end up with something you don’t like; they don’t currently cater to vegetarians or special diets at the moment; no minimum sign up period – 6 days notice to cancel an ongoing weekly order; if there’s leftovers, you have to eat it for lunch the next day rather than dinner because having the fresh food in the house means you have to cook every night.

Would I sign up? Yes, but not every week or I would choose the smaller plan so there’s not so much pressure to cook proper recipes every night, however delicious they may be!

Also, just for fun and games, I’ve decided to pick the brains of Caitlin Arnold from Hello Fresh for you in a mini London-y Q&A:

LLO: As food is important to you, can you recommend a favourite restaurant choice with some fresh and healthy options for those lazy days you don’t feel like cooking?
CA: I love Cah Chi – delicious Korean food. My favourite thing is the dak bulgogi with a side of sigumchi namul – barbeque chicken with a side of steamed spinach. So good.

LLO: What’s your favourite London discovery and why?
CA: I saw the musical Wicked in London in 2007 and it changed my life. I have seen it four times since then.

LLO: Share one memory or moment that could only have happened in London.
CA:  I went to Ministry of Sound to see Sander Van Doorn in 2007 and it blew my mind.


Full disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. I was given a week’s worth of free groceries from the company Hello Fresh with a promise to review their services for you.