Hotel insider: Wombat’s City Hostel London, England

Checking in to the new boutique Wombat’s City Hostel London.

The lobby at Wombat’s City Hostel London. Photo by Marek Neumann
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The welcome

I approach the seven-storey building on Dock Street from Aldgate East Underground station, a five-minute walk away. The large, open reception area is attractive, with shabby-chic furniture, some shared laptops, books and vending machines. Young, mostly 20-something travellers lounge on seats using the free Wi-Fi. I’m checked in quickly and my ID is taken as a deposit against the room key.

The neighbourhood

The property fronts onto a busy road in southern Whitechapel, five to 10 minutes’ walk from the Tower of London. Behind the building is Wilton’s Music Hall, one of the world’s oldest still-functioning music halls.

The scene

The hubs of the building are the large reception area and basement bar, built into the property’s old vaults. With exposed brickwork and low, arched ceilings in the bar, designer lighting, a pleasant kitchen and an adjoining courtyard, it’s all fashionably finished, making up for the rather bland rooms. There’s also a very quiet, attractive sitting room at the top of the building, which seems to be little-used. Other travellers all seem very pleasant and courteous.

The room

My room is one of 110, and is a female-only dorm room. It’s on the second floor facing the road, so is noisy (a nearby railway line is also in operation from about 6am until midnight, adding to the din). It’s also very hot, so I sleep in the sheet sleeping bag provided, with my earplugs and eye mask. The room has a wood laminate floor and is freshly painted. Four of the beds are in one section of the room and two in the other, lending a degree of privacy. There’s one bathroom with a shower, two sinks and a toilet, and lockers for valuables that are simple to operate and open only with your key card. All the furniture is new and clean, while the rooms are cleaned daily, though with so many people using them they do get dirty quickly.

The service

Reception and bar staff are slightly brusque, though this is probably to be expected for a budget property with more than 500 bed spaces. When I tell the bar staff I want to watch a football match, I’m given conflicting information about whether or not this is possible – in the end, I don’t get to see it because of the time it’s showing. This is just one of the sacrifices you have to make in a place like this. Kitchen and cleaning staff are nice, and there’s a good atmosphere overall.

The food

The £3.50 (Dh20) buffet continental breakfast is excellent value, with unlimited fruit juice, tea, coffee, yogurt and toast (sandwich makers are also available). If you prefer to self-cater, there’s a fully functioning kitchen with four large shared refrigerators in which to store your food.

Loved

The youthful atmosphere. Each dorm bed has a small shelf with a light and plug socket.

Hated

The noise from outside and the heat. Next time I would request a quiet room at the back, or book a private room, though there aren’t many of these and they get booked up in advance.

The verdict

A good-value base in a good location. Just don’t forget earplugs.

The bottom line

Dorm beds at Wombat's City Hostel London (www.wombats-hostels.com/london; 0044 207 680 7600) cost from £25 (Dh143) per person per night. Doubles cost from £45 (Dh258) per person per night.

rbehan@thenational.ae

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