Where to Stay in London: Hillspring Lodge Willesden Green

Extract from www.aviatorsandacamera.com

                                                                           August 2012

When I am in London, I usually prefer to stay in a hotel or with friends. However, when HostelWorld brought me to town as their Guest Photographer and offered to house me in Hillspring Lodge at Willesden Green for a few nights I was eager to give it a try. I’ve slept in hostels before and while I’ve never had a really bad experience in a hostel I still can’t say they’re really my ‘cup of tea’.

Since I love challenging myself, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to try and fall in love with the hostel experience.

Even the rain didn’t dull the smile on my face because the houses I passed by had that air I so long to see whenever I am not in the UK. There’s just something about English row houses I adore.

The actual hostel building is set back from Willesden Lane behind a security gate, yet the entrance is well marked and impossible to miss day or night.

Checking in, I was impressed by how friendly and knowledgeable the staff was. They were expecting me and they gave me a private room with my own full bath! It was simple, but clean and functional… and the bed turned out to be far more comfortable than it initially looked. I used my in-room electric kettle to make a spot of tea and I ended my long travel day with a book.

Outside my door, the far away and muffled sounds of a party begged me to join but I was determined to enjoy solitude. I loved that I could choose that, having my own room. Score one already for Hillspring Lodge.

Waking up the next morning, I was pleased to find a flurry of activity in the expansive, inviting common rooms downstairs, multitudes of friendly travelers from all over the globe and fresh, hot coffee on tap. The breakfast that is included was simple: toast and cold cereal. Since I rarely eat heavily in the morning, this was fine with me! As it was raining yet again, Hillspring Lodge received more bonus points by providing an umbrella when I finally hit the road for a day of shooting around the city with Colm Hanratty from HostelWorld.

In the end, I wasn’t at Hillspring Lodge long enough to take full advantage of all the social opportunities which are inherent to hostel life. Owing to my private room, there wasn’t built-in socialization at night either. However, if I was going to stay in a hostel again in London, I would definitely consider returning to Hillspring Lodge at Willesden Green.

The common rooms are swanky without being uppity (more bonus points for the motorcycle collection!!), the crowd was diverse and friendly, the staff excellent, the bar had Guinness on tap, my private room was a more than adequate home-away-from-home for a budget price. I’d describe it as a boutique hostel. In the end, the only real strike against Palmer’s Lodge that I can possibly come up with is the less-than-ideal location. That’s simply not enough of a strike to remove it from the list of places I would recommend staying in London.

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<Image credit: Kirsten Alana>