Whenever someone hears that I’ve moved to England and they want to visit London, they always ask: are London hostels safe? Is it worth the risk to save some money?
Of course everyone wants to stay safe, but there’s a lot of misconceptions about hostels, London and the two of them together.
Are London hostels safe? Yes. Does London still have crime? Of course.
Every big city will have more crime than a quiet rural village in the middle of nowhere. We all know that. So how can we navigate some of that risk while still enjoying staying in London (ideally at a hostel?)
Here are some tips to keep in mind when visiting a London hostel:
1. Read the reviews!
I know reviews online can be fake, but judging a hostel by it’s reviews is a good place to start when choosing a place to stay. There’s a few things you want to check up on before picking a hostel: noise, neighbourhood, cleanliness and atmosphere.
- Is the hostel known for being nosy?
- What kind of neighbourhood is the hostel in? Is it in a safe place in London, or a more dangerous area?
- How clean is the hostel? What are previous guests saying?
- What type of atmosphere does the hostel have? Some are quiet and calm, others are party-zones. Make sure you pick the one right for you!
Where did I stay?
Last time I stayed in a hostel in London, I stayed at Astor Hyde Park. The location was central, safe and beautiful. The hostel was clean, friendly and quiet. Plus I was able to get a private room just for two people. Overall a wonderful place!
Thinking of moving to London? Check out my guide on your first month living in London!
2. Consider female-only dorms
While female-only hostels tend to be more expensive, it could give you the peace of mind you’re looking for. If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of sharing a dorm room with guys, this could definitely be an option for you.
However, girls can be just as nosy, messy and obnoxious as boys are. But it’s still an option!
Stressed about travelling and staying safe? You’re not alone! Check out 7 easy tips here: Travel Advice for a Stress-Free Trip. Moving abroad or taking a vacation shouldn’t be overwhelming!
3. If you can, pay a bit extra for a private room
When I stayed in a hostel in London, I didn’t want to worry about roommates, strangers coming in the middle of the night or loud sleeping-neighbours. I just wanted a room that was cheaper than a hotel, but still comfortable.
A private room is a great option.
It’s not as expensive as a hotel room, but not as uncomfortable or nosy as a shared hostel room. Some hostels can hold around 20 people in a single dorm-style room. That’s a lot of people to deal with! A private room eliminates the uncertainty of who you’ll be stuck with, while also giving you a bit more peace of mind about safety.
If you can’t get a private room, try looking for hostels that offer smaller-sized dorms, such as 4-6 people instead of dorms of 20.
4. Lock up your suitcase
Most hostels are set up with bunk-beds and will have some sort of area to put your suitcase. Bring a lock! Either you can lock your suitcase, or lock it into some type of container or storage area (even better). I’ve been to hostels that had metal wire drawers under the bed that you could pull out, plop your suitcase in, close the drawer and lock it. I could still see that my bag was in there, but the whole thing was secure and closed.
Of course you want to believe that most people are kind and courteous. “A hostel roommate wouldn’t steal from me!” In an ideal world, you wouldn’t need to lock your stuff up. But, it’s the best thing to do and eliminates the possibility of your stuff getting stolen.
It’s also best not to leave your belongings thrown around the shared room. Keep your stuff with you and organized so you always know what you have (and what you’re missing).
5. Don’t keep all your money in one place
Let’s say you get robbed, unfortunately. It happens! It’s ideal to keep portions of your cash split between different places (just don’t forget where they are). For me, I’d keep some money locked up in my locker at the hostel, some money on me, some money in my purse and some in my backpack. If one of those piles were to be stolen, I’d be fine. I certainly wouldn’t be fine if all my money was in the same place.
Extra trip: It’s also wise to take a photocopy of all your important documents (visa details, passport, etc) and keep them on you. If your passport was to be stolen, at least you’d have all the details to get it replaced.
Not sure about the tipping culture in England? Find out when you need to tip in London.
6. Plan your route from the airport to the hostel in advance
We’ve all been there. You’ve just landed in a foreign country after a super long flight and you’re exhausted. You don’t know where you’re going but you’re trying to lug your giant suitcase around with you.
Make sure to plan out your route from the airport to your hostel beforehand. Don’t leave it to the day to figure out. You’ll be jet lagged, overwhelmed and carrying some serious luggage.
Pre-plan which transportation you’ll need (train, London Underground, or maybe even a combination?) What stops do you need to get off on? What street is your hostel on? Organize your route before you arrive in London so you don’t need to stress, or make stupid mistakes. Making stupid mistakes because you’re tired is an easy way to get yourself into an unsafe situation.
If you’re travelling from Gatwick Airport into London, make sure to check out my article: Ultimate Guide: Visiting Gatwick Airport
7. Keep your hostel information on you
Keep details of your hostel so you can reference it when you’re out. I personally like to take a photo of the hostels name and address. I’ll also add the hostels phone number into my phone, or take a picture of the number so I can call it from a public phone if needed.
If you’re changing hostels a lot, it can be helpful to take a picture of your hostel from the outside so you remember what it looks like. When you’re coming back from having a few pints, it could be difficult finding the right place.
Are London hostels safe?
Overall, yes. London hostels are safe, but you still need to do your research. Make sure to look after yourself and keep yourself out of dangerous situations. London is like any other large city and needs some special care to make the most of your vacation.