The wall of mirrors at Safestay Elephant and Castle © Emma Sparks
I’ve stayed in plenty of hostels. Some good, some bad, and some where I feared for my life. They vary so dramatically - from cockroach-ridden shacks to swanky boutiques - that I feel I’ve become something of a hostel expert. I find myself scanning the communal areas for a sense of ambiance, checking tops of wardrobes for dust and writing lenghty suggestions in guest books. Nine times out of ten, I have that smug feeling of I could do better.
Last week, I met my match.
Rest your head and relax at Safestay © Emma Sparks
I had been lucky enough to be invited to the opening of brand spanking new Safestay in Elephant and Castle. Curious as I was about the area, and of course keen to have a snoop at the facilities available, I jumped at the chance. I was not disappointed. First to hit you is the grandeur of the building. Situated in the former Labour Party headquarters on Walworth road, this huge structure is impressive inside and out. The decor is chic, in a feminine but bold palette of pink and plum. The main thing to strike me was that someone had clearly taken real care and time to design the layout and decorations, which I found extremely refreshing.
Chilled out communal areas © Emma Sparks
Make sure you look sharp in Safestay’s stylish bathrooms © Emma Sparks
In terms of what I’m looking for in a hostel, Safestay ticks pretty much every box. It’s clean, welcoming, light and airy. It’s affordable. It does what it says on the tin, in that it is certainly safe. Key card access to each area of the hostel means no worrying about non-guests traipsing the halls, despite your preconceptions of the area (which I discuss here).
Spacious dorms and twin rooms are mostly ensuite, with plenty of power sockets, curtains and personal reading lamps for every bed (brownie points) and secure lockers under the bunks. The communal areas are huge, which, as a solo traveller I might at first find intimidating, but the layout means it shouldn’t be too hard for backpackers to get to know their fellow hostellers. Wifi is free throughout the building and computers are available near reception.
Stay connected while away from home © Emma Sparks
Ample outdoor space in London? Winning © Emma Sparks
The outdoor area is a little haven, with a view of Strata SE1. Despite the less than perfect London weather, I think this little spot will be very popular with guests.
Social spaces are colourful and welcoming © Emma Sparks
Consider Safestay for a budget trip to London © Emma Sparks
I am seriously impressed. Would I stay here? Absolutely. In terms of the social scene, Safestay would be wise to make sure solo travellers and shy-types are catered for, as the labyrinthine hallways could get lonely. But that will come in time. With the Bakerloo and Northern line at my finger tips, South Bank just a walk away and the knowledge that my bag isn’t going to get nicked if I leave it in the luggage room, I couldn’t imagine a better (or safer) place to stay.
Visit safestay.co.uk for more information and to book your stay!