The word ‘hostel’, I have to admit, gives me the clanging horrors. In my mind I am transported to my student days: dilapidated, mouldy buildings filled with cramped rows of beds; musty blankets; the aroma of feet and worse in the air.
Alternative To A London Hotel
Palmers Lodge, Swiss Cottage, sets the clanging to rest almost immediately. Hotels in London can be viciously expensive, with no guarantee that price guarantees cleanliness, but you can stay at the award-winning Palmers Lodge in one of the shared dormitories and still have change from a twenty pound note.
Not bad at all, particularly when you take your surroundings into account – bright, warm and welcoming from the moment you walk into the lobby, everywhere is clean, with not a hint of eau de foot in the air.
If anything, first impressions are of a quirky, possibly magical boarding school – shades of Hogwarts, even down to the suit of armour on the stairs. (He is called Bruce, and he didn’t walk; at least not that I saw…)
The lodge dates from the 1880’s and was originally built for biscuit magnate Samuel Palmer of Huntley & Palmers Biscuits.
Having in the past seen service as a Children’s Hospital, been requisitioned by the War Office in World War II and used for nursing accommodation, it has a varied history.
Fully refurbished, the imposing red brick exterior contains many nooks and crannies inside to explore and find a little privacy.
If you don’t fancy a dormitory room – in which the beds are curtained and are made up with clean sheets for you – there are also double en-suite rooms available.
It has received many awards including London’s Best Hostel.
Modern facilities complement the Victorian splendour of the building. There are plenty of hot showers and a lounge with books, internet access and a fire to fall asleep in front of – a vast improvement on the utilitarian surroundings of many hostels.
A bed for the night in central London that doesn’t cost the earth and provides an unusual, comfortable base may just be enough to win over a new kind of traveller – not everyone who stays in a lodge is a student, or has stinky feet.
Shopping In Swiss Cottage
Nearby shopping is excellent – Swiss Cottage Tube Station is only a minute or so walk away and right next to the Station there is a collection of interesting market stalls selling lovely cakes and cheese. Another selling high-fashion at low prices.
Flowers and small plants can be purchased as presents for friends and relations immediately outside Palmers Lodge – this is a unique stall with lots of choice.
Swiss Cottage is an area forming part of the ancient parish of Hampstead. Finchley Road is a minute or so in the other direction from Swiss Cottage Tube Station and this area was redeveloped in the 1930s.
As you walk along the Finchley Road towards Finchley Road Tube there are a collection of independent restaurants, pubs and shops large and small (including all the usual suspects).
A nearby pub the North Star looked newly decorated and was lively although it is for over 21s only.
For indoor shopping the 02 Centre – a 9000 sqm shopping, eating and cinema complex, is about 10-15 minutes walk away from Palmers Lodge (near to Finchley Road Tube Station) – the centre opened in 1998 – the original budget of 15m was exceeded in 1997 which caused delays until additional investors could be found.
There is something to suit everyone’s needs within the immediate vicinity of Palmers Lodge and of course Central London is only a few tube stops away.