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London is a world famous city like New York, Paris, Rome, Istanbul or Tokyo. England became my 33rd country and London my 300th something urban jungle. When visiting a city you also have to consider where you will sleep and from where will you set up your home base to explore the city. Look no further than Astor Hyde Park Hostel.
Astor Hyde Park Hostel is located on Queens Gate St adjacent to the southwestern edge of Hyde Park. Hyde Park is one of many massive parks that can be found throughout London. After exiting the shuttle bus from the airport we walked through Hyde Park and found it to be lit alive with people of all nationalities speaking their mother tongues. In fact, Jonny and I counted and we overheard 9 of 10 people speaking something other than English.
Our entire trip in London reflected a high percentage of non-English being spoken on the streets. Hyde Park was consumed by bike riders, runners, rugby, cricket and fútbol. There is a central lake you can rent boats on and food stands where you can purchase something to eat. Many people lounged in the grass and enjoyed the beautiful weather that was hanging around London.
Around Hyde Park are nothing but posh shops, places to eat, expensive cars and immaculately cleaned streets. This structure carried itself into the area where Astor Hyde Park planted its roots. The hostel is boarded by a classy residential building and a swanky hotel. A little further down the street you could find several embassy’s.
If you walked for 10-15 minutes in any direction and you could find yourself a tube (metro station). Several bike rental ports are in 1-5 waking from the hostel. With a small amount of practice you can bike from the hostel to the the Clock Tower or London eye in less than 30 minutes (before you have to return the bike so as to not get charged an extra £2).
Inside the hostel you will find a very friendly staff. Reception was great, always available and knowledgeable. One of the first people I spoke to was a Canadian girl that spends her summers off from college to work at Astor Hyde Park. She told me she kept coming back because the atmosphere and people that generally stayed at the hostel was amazing. During this conversation I made friends with a Nigerian kid that joined the conversation who chimed in saying that he liked it so much that he decided to extend his original stay in London from several days to over a month. The vibe I received from fellow hostelers and staff was more than I could have hoped for.
I continued to make more and more friends at this hostel much like a hostel I had stayed in Kraków, Poland. Some hostels just carry themselves in a way that makes you feel warm and welcome. Astor Hyde Park was one of those places.
The rooms to the hostel were fairly basic. Bunked beds with comfortable mattresses and a respectable amount of space between everyone. What was nice about these hostel rooms was the private bathroom to each room. This is not typical of hostels and Astor Hyde Park scores major points for this amenity. Each bed had a lockable large basket under the bed for you to securely store your things. The rooms could only be opened by key card access; first to the hallway and then the individual rooms.
Breakfast & The Kitchen
In the morning you could make your way to the kitchen for the most important meal. The cost is £1 but it’s donated to charity. This exchange is also based off an honor system as no one is collecting the money other than the two red buckets next to the kitchen. What you get in return is unlimited sliced bread, peanut butter, two types of jam, granola, coco puffs, corn flakes, coffee, and juice.
Should you wish to cook your own breakfast (or any other meal) you are more than welcome to use the fully equipped kitchen.
Every Thursday and Saturday Astor Hyde Park has a “Big Sights Tour” which they offer only from the reception desk. You should book this relatively soon once you arrive because tickets do indeed sell fast. There is no guarantee that there will still be spots even if you sign up early. This tour can be taken in place or in addition to any sightseeing tour you might take advantage of in London. Additionally, you can also hire tandem. What this means is that you can rent a two seated bike to peddle around the city of London with a friend.
Astor Hyde Park holds small events usually everyday. You will be able to find a white board with colorful writing which describes the events of the week. Such events might be: beer pong tournament, cub crawl, sporting events, tours, and popular theater.
Common Room & Wi-Fi
The common room was described to me by Jonny as “as place I want to read a leather bound book in while smoking from a pipe.” I was not on his same level of thinking but, the room is rather cool to hang out in. Many people will flock to this area so it’s a great time to chat with other people staying at the hostel. A high table with chairs, comfortable large seats and two large couches fill the room. At night they have TV or a movie going on a flat screen.
Overall, Astor Hyde Park gets my recommendation as a place you should think to stay at in London if you want to be budget conscious without heavily compromising on the quality of the facility. Additionally, if you want to meet other travels to explore London with this hostel has the right environment for making friends.