Budget beds in London: The Big Six
From Shoreditch to Russell Square, and Aldgate to Bankside
Saturday 26 July 2014
Generator, Russell Square
In 1995, Generator Hostels opened its first property, in London, launching an affordable, design-driven model that has since expanded to a host of European cities. After a decade as the flagship, however, the London property has recently been the subject of an £8m refurbishment, completed this year. Close to Russell Square, it now features 800 beds in a collection of dorms, triples and twins. The chain's urban, industrial-chic look is evident throughout, with Tom Dixon furniture, eye-catching Moooi pieces and art installations by the Shoreditch-based collective Acrylicize. The lounge is home to a cinema screen, a small café and a bar featuring a not-quite-lifesize replica Routemaster bus.
Generator, 37 Tavistock Place, WC1H 9SE (020 7388 7666; generatorhostels.com). Dorms from £10.50pp; doubles from £50, room only.
The launch of Qbic's London property last November came after the success of its maiden project in Amsterdam. In Aldgate, the group has continued with the same capsule-style, modular rooms as the first hotel. Each compact, private room is made up of a cube-shaped living space, with a double bed, free Wi-Fi, smart TV and monsoon shower. All feature arty touches and murals, although the smallest – the Smart rooms – don't have windows. The Indian and Bangladeshi restaurants of Brick Lane and the bright lights of Shoreditch await outside.
Qbic, 42 Adler Street, E1 1EE (020 3021 3300; qbichotels.com). Doubles from £69, room only.
Clink78, Kings Cross
Formerly known as Clerkenwell Magistrates' Court, this Victorian courthouse once employed Charles Dickens as a clerk and in 1978 fined members of The Clash for shooting racing pigeons with an air rifle. Today, the two courthouses have been converted into computer and television rooms, with space for 500 "inmates" upstairs in a series of dorms and private rooms, some in the former holding cells. Head to the basement for a pint in The Clash Bar or escape on a free walking tour.
Clink78, 78 King's Cross Road, WC1X 9QG (020 3475 3000; clinkhostels.com). Dorms £12pp; doubles £40, with breakfast.
The Dictionary, Shoreditch
Hackney's first youth hostel sits on the doorstep of some of the capital's hippest pubs and clubs in nearby Shoreditch, Brick Lane and Old Street. Husband-and-wife team Eliska and Peter Finlay opened the 200-bed boutique hostel in 2012. Rooms include a range of private dorms and doubles, with exposed brick walls, skylights and metal-frame bunks. Pull-out lockers underneath offer space for storing valuables. Elsewhere, relax in the courtyard garden, enjoy a beer on the roof terrace or head to the hostel's lively bar.
The Dictionary, 10-20 Kingsland Road, E2 8DA (020 7613 2784; thedictionaryhostel.com). Dorms £15pp; doubles £40, room only.
The citizenM chain started in Amsterdam, then Glasgow and Rotterdam, before opening in London's Bankside two years ago. Today, properties have been added in New York and Paris, with more planned for Shoreditch, Tower Hill and Holborn over the coming years. As with all of the properties, technology plays a crucial role at Bankside. Adjust lights, flick through free movies or close the blinds, all from your personal tablet computer. Downstairs, the lobby sports Vitra furniture and iMacs, while the 24-hour canteen works on an honesty basis.
citizenM, 20 Lavington Street, SE1 0NZ (020 3519 1680; citizenm.com). Doubles from £109.
The Hoxton, Shoreditch
All the rooms are the same size at this egalitarian hotel in the heart of Shoreditch. Stripped of non-essentials, they focus on stylish interiors that reflect the creative neighbourhood outside, with Anglepoise lamps and vintage chairs. A clutch of "concept rooms" takes the look even further, with covetable furniture and art, all sourced from within three minutes' walk of the front door. Quirky touches include the breakfast bag – hung on the bedroom door and filled with yogurt, fruit, juice and granola.
The Hoxton, 81 Great Eastern St, EC2A 3HU (020 7550 1000; hoxtonhotels.com). Doubles from £49, including breakfast.
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