Down a narrow alleyway about a ten minute walk from London’s Kings Cross station, it’s all kicking off inside a former police station. A young man strums a guitar just inside the entrance, while another shaggy-haired fellow tickles the ivories of a white piano emblazoned with a rainbow-hued outline of the city’s iconic skyline. Across the room, two 20-something girls giggle inside a photo booth, and a DJ will be spinning tunes later inside a red Routemaster bus that seems to have burst through the corner of the bar.
Welcome to Generator London, one of the UK capital’s hottest hipster hangouts. But it’s not a club. It’s a new generation of hostel.
Though the building has offered economic accommodations for budget travellers since 1995, this 868-bed property underwent a massive makeover in 2013.
The public spaces on the main floor, dubbed “Wonderland,” have been transformed into a cool 21st century homage to all things bright and British.
Witty design details range from “mind the gap” Tube-style warnings painted on the concrete floor to a Scottish tartan-clad coffee nook alongside a café, and, of course, the Routemaster in the bar. (That is one bus, at least, that you’re at no risk of missing.)
There’s also a movie theatre showing Brit flicks Sean of the Dead and Atonement this afternoon, a “chill out” area with game boards for tables and cushions for crashing, and a kiosk-style Travel Shop offering maps and tour guide pamphlets, alongside basic toiletries for sale.
The materials on the main floor are mostly industrial chic, with exposed ductwork, sections of bare brick wall, and breakfast niches made of unpainted fibreboard. Next to the stairs, a giant tube map serves as both artwork and a useful guide for those looking to travel cheaply around the city.
Each of the five floors of rooms is devoted to a different British TV or movie persona, from Austin Powers to James Bond and Dr. Who. The sleeping quarters are simple but functional, accommodating anywhere from one to 12 people. Every room has a sink, and sharing rooms also feature lockable storage. There are even 22 en-suite rooms, for those who don’t fancy trekking down the hall to use the loo or shower.
Bottom line? This may be the buzziest place to bunk in London without breaking the bank.
http://generatorhostels.com/en/destinations/london/. From £12.50 to £49.
Doing the “Grand European Tour” on a not-so-grand budget? Check out Generator’s other newly renovated properties in Barcelona, Berlin, Copenhagen, Dublin, Hamburg and Venice.