Wake up London Hostel Review With Photos

The Wake Up London hostel is a good place in which to hang your backpack in London -- central enough, fairly clean, lively, and loaded with amenities. On a quiet side street in a cute Paddington neighborhood, the huge hacienda housing the hostel has room for two lounges, a basement bar and big honking kitchen, a gigundo game room / internet area and 500+ beds. Rates are reasonable, the London tube and bus (double deckers!) routes are less than ten minutes away and staff is almost uniformly friendly, although the exceptions are enough to turn you off this joint for good.

Staying here is like being on a very small college campus -- eclectic folks, fun, quite safe. Remember that, when you choose to stay in a hostel, you get what you get for the money -- expect cleanliness, hot water and locks. Wake Up London has those plus some pluses and minus breakfast.

We give the Wake Up London three stars (one hostel per year may get five as a top rank, and the gap between 3-5 is deep and wide).

01 of 09

Wake Up London Hostel Check in, Policy

Wake Up London Hostel Lobby picture
© Kathleen Crislip

Check in is a snap at the Wake Up London hostel; refreshingly for the sometimes service-free hostel world, someone is always manning the Wake Up London's front desk, which is just inside the building's double front doors. Doors and stairs off the lobby lead to a lounge, phone area, and four more levels.

Wake Up London dorm beds start at 11 pounds and 35 for a single room, and that means 35. Hostels usually charge per bed, but the Wake Up London charges by the room; single rooms can contain a double bed or two twins.

Nomads, YHA and ISIC travel cards will get you a one pound discount for the first two nights if booking online. Your credit card won't be charged until you show, or don't show and don't cancel... or show and cancel:

  • Wake Up London's own website indicates that it adheres to common hostel policy, which is that guests must cancel 24 hours in advance or be charged for the night in question. (Frankly, this policy stinks.) I was charged after trying to cancel my last night 22 hours in advance and was told that reservations *can* be cancelled 24 hours in advance. Yeah, like trying to get a fast food breakfast two minutes after breakfast ends.
  • Huge hostel reservations system Hostelworld.com shows a posting from the hostel stating that once payment is made on arrival, there will be no refunds (that would be utterly ridiculous for a stay of more than one night).
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02 of 09

Wake Up London Hostel - Phones, Cash and Travel Desk

Wake Up London Hostel Phone Area picture
© Kathleen Crislip
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03 of 09

Wake Up London Beds and Rooms

Wake Up London Hostel Room picture
© Kathleen Crislip

Two of the best room features at the Wake Up London are high ceilings and tall windows -- rooms are flooded with light, showing nothing to hide: rooms are remarkably clean, if normal hostel-shabby.

Wake Up London hostel beds are mostly comfy enough and made up with sheets and one pillowcased pillow. Each bunk comes with a blanket.

My single room on a Spring, 2006, visit had two bunks, a chair, a closet and a non-working TV. Doors and windows lock from inside and curtains close fully; overhead light fixture is decent and lower bunks have a reading light (remember to carry a clip-on book light to read or journal by when sleeping in a hostel dorm).

Ask for a first floor (that's second floor to Yanks) to sleep like a baby -- the hostel bar's basement location means you can enjoy libations on site, and enjoy quiet sleep while others libate two stories away.

The Wake Up London hostel offers 500+ beds, most in four, six and eight bed dorms. Women-only dorms are available.

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04 of 09

Wake Up London Hostel Review - Bathrooms

Wake Up London Hostel Bathroom picture
© Kathleen Crislip

So here's the deal with travel in England and bathrooms -- they're cold and the water is iffy. There. It's out.

That said, the bathrooms at the Wake Up London hostel were a pleasant surprise. Yep, chilly as could be, but the showers are pretty A-OK -- hot water in a steady stream for the three days of my stay. Some private rooms have baths and no showers and vice versa; if it matters to you, you can try specifying via email after reserving, but don't expect a response; most hostels don't answer email.

Each bunk comes with a towel -- in a money-saving move that's innkeeper insanity, some hostels skimp on this basic amenity, instead renting towels or providing directions to a shop selling towels. Cheers to the Wake Up London hostel for avoiding this common hostel hospitality mistake.

Before you expect too much from any hostel bathroom, memorize these rules of hostel life: someone will throw up in the bathroom, neglect to lift the seat, or forget to flush on crucial occasions. And any hostel shower curtain, from Austria to Zimbabwe, will always cling to you like a clammy-fingered lover. Wake Up London's bathrooms start the day clean, and that's a lot.

Remember that small bathroom appliances need adaptors to mate with English electrical plugs. Before you travel, buy a $20 universal electrical adaptor which will work in most countries.

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05 of 09

Wake Up London Hostel Internet, Game Room, Lounge

Wake Up London Hostel Internet Cafe picture
© Kathleen Crislip

Any hostel with more than one working computer connected to the internet and available to guests deserves kudos, and the Wake Up London hostel has several. Internet time is expensive, but hostels are probably more reasonable than beaucoup bucks business hotels, and areas like the Wake Up London hostel's internet room are becoming more common in the budget travel world.

Internet can also be had at cafes within a block in the neighborhood, or you can hop the tube to Bayswater (one stop away) for cheap eats and lots o' internet cafe options. I bought a week's worth of wifi for my laptop from a neighborhood provider; about $25 per week for connectivity within the Wake Up London hostel.

The bright and spacious internet and game room area is reached through the phone area or a pleasant lounge, filled with comfy couches and sporting a big TV and books, off the lobby. (A second TV lounge exists downstairs.)

Travel wifi resources:

Related London internet resources: London internet street kiosk photos

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06 of 09

Wake Up London Hostel Kitchen

Wake Up London Hostel Kitchen picture
© Kathleen Crislip

A good kitchen means a lot in a hostel, and the Wake Up London hostel's big basement kitchen is pretty fine. With 500+ beds in the building, the kitchen gets a workout and the readiness level shows it: plenty of fridges, counter space and utensils.

Breakfast and boxed lunches are available for purchase in the a.m., and a machine near the kitchen dispenses coffee in various forms for less than a pound per cup (half price 6:00-10:00 a.m.). A basement lounge provides dining tables and chairs, a TV and a magazine rack.

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07 of 09

Wake Up London Hostel Laundry, Lounge

Hostel basement/rabbit warren leads to laundry, reading room
© Kathleen Crislip

Each level at the Wake Up London hostel is color coded for easy navigation regardless of inebriation level -- as the hostel posts on its website: "We've seen your sort before." The pink-coded basement houses the bar, kitchen, laundry, luggage storage, a coin operated espresso machine and a dining room / lounge with TV and magazines, as well as bedrooms and public toilets. (A second lounge exists upstairs, with another TV, books and comfy couches.)

Washers and dryers take tokens available at a pound apiece from the upstairs front desk (one token per load) -- four of the six machines didn't work during my visit, providing me an excellent excuse to retreat to the hostel's Hiccup bar, through which one must pass to reach the laundry room, and kick back with an au pair from Ontario who was living at the hostel and a med student from San Diego who was heading home.

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08 of 09

Wakeup London Hostel Hiccup Bar

Wake Up London Hostel Bar picture
© Kathleen Crislip

Diligent detective work during a Wake Up London hostel stay didn't turn up the hostel's Hiccup Bar hours, but it would seem to be closed on Sunday evenings and generally open otherwise from 6:00 p.m. until the wee hours. Big bevvie selection and plenty of partakers, and the basement bar offers scheduled party nights and games. Smoking allowed.

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09 of 09

Wake Up London Hostel Directions, Address, Reservations, Contact

Craven Road picture London
© Kathleen Crislip

The Wake Up London hostel is in Paddington, which is a West London neighborhood near Hyde Park. The hostel is a block from Craven Road, where shoppers can find small grocery stores, internet and computer rental, pharmacies and cafes. The Paddington tube station is three level blocks away and the Lancaster Gate bus station about two slightly sloping blocks.

Wake Up London Directions

  • From London's Heathrow Airport:
    • Take the Heathrow Express tube to the Paddington tube station (about 20 minutes). Southeast just out of the station is Praed Street -- turn right, or west, and Praed becomes Craven Road. Follow it for three blocks; take the third right at Devonshire Terrace -- Wake Up London is one block down on the left (about ten minutes).
  • From Stansted Airport:
    • Take the Stansted Express to the Liverpool Street station; transfer to the Central Line bus and take that to the Lancaster Gate station off Bayswater Road. Walk a few meters south to Bayswater Road, turn west for one block and turn northwest on Craven Terrace, which becomes Devonshire Terrace; hostel is two blocks north of Bayswater on left.

Contact Wake Up London Hostel

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