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

Guest Post: Tom Church presents uHouse

As you and I well know, living in London is expensive and finding an affordable place to stay can be incredibly difficult. There’s no doubt about it. A student from University College London (UCL) has created a website that he says will help make life a bit easier for anyone on a budget when it comes to flat hunting. And so of course I’ve invited him to write a guest post telling us more about his site and the story behind it. Meet Tom Church.

The first bedroom was more like a prison cell. 9ft long and 6ft wide, it was one of eighty-six identical rooms along a single corridor. “Welcome to your university accommodation”, smirked the security guard. There were two bathrooms and one kitchen shared between forty-three ‘flatmates’. And this kitchen only had one mini-fridge and microwave. The whole place was noisy, dirty, and quite frankly disgusting. But I loved it.
Londoners can make anything fun, and that year I spent in university-provided accommodation was one of my best. Yet it was also one of the most expensive. Before moving in, I had been naively made to believe that £155 a week for that room was “about right” in London. Remember; no living room, no outside facing window, no sleep. Yet, with an interest-free student loan coming in, who was I to complain? The contract was signed, bags packed.
Friday Night BluesPhoto: Friday Night Blues by Karva Javi
Five months later, sitting by a cash-machine, a homeless man asked if I had any change. It was the same man that always asked me for change, and this time, as I was checking my balance and taking out some cash, I would oblige. Then I double-blinked. The on-screen balance read £55.
With a month to go until my next loan instalment, I was broke. I had to get two part-time evening jobs to pay the rent whilst studying, and it was here I learnt that I was not alone. This story is very, very common amongst London students – especially those from overseas. London rent is just too expensive.
The Courtain
Photo: Courtain by s_mahela
However, every problem has a solution. For the last two years I’ve been researching the London rental market and think that I have it. And through Stephanie’s great blog, I would like to present it to you. How can you make London rent cheaper? There are three answers:
  1. Share the flat
  2. Live further out
  3. Look really hard
My solution combines all three, and here it is: (yes, .co).
uHouse lists all the affordable properties to rent in London. It searches the listings of all the small estate agencies in London, and picks the few houses that are within a budget: £650 per month per person OR LESS. It allows you to contact the estate agent/landlord directly, so there’s no middle man, and it’s entirely free to use. There’s even a Facebook page so you can keep an eye on the best flats as they come up.
The streets of London
Photo: The Streets of London by Gautier Houba
uHouse is my thank you gift to the Londoners that made my stay very enjoyable despite some prison-like conditions. I hope that you will find it useful, and if you do find a place to live through it, don’t forget to thank Stephanie for allowing me to write this guest article!
Find it, love it, live it.
Tom Church