travel: City Youth Hostel, London, UK

A stay at a London Youth Hostel

Youth Hostel from in front of St. Paul's

where: London, The City, close to St. Paul's Cathedral
open: all year, 24/7
cost: about 30 a night

The hook here is that this place used to be the choir school for St. Paul's. It was sold off in 1968 or so and the choir moved to an ugly purpose-built building nearby.

The outside of this building is quite cute with lots of features still remaining. The inside is a hodge-podge of institutional modernism 70s style and some almost quite nice bits. The rooms are also variable but in a place like this you most likely won't be there all that much anyway.

London generally is overpriced so the room rate, at about three times what it might be in other places, is just something that has to be endured. One interesting thing is that easyHotel's capsule rates aren't very much different to the Youth Hostel rates but if you think windows are a good thing then the capsules aren't for you.

There is no self-catering at the City YHA but there is a cafe with prices that are moderate for London and the food quality isn't too bad.

St. Paul's cathedral

The main plus point for this hostel is that it is central and close to St. Paul's, for those who want to spend time there. It is in the City -- the financial district so it is quiet and safe at night but it isn't close to any of the bouncier parts of town as far as night life goes.

St. Paul's is worth a visit and at some of the services the very fine choir can give quite a treat, with music ranging from Palestrina to more modern composers. Check the boards out front for service times. The crypt is also interesting and has quite a number of famous people buried there including Christopher Wren himself, who designed the place.

Not far away, close to Bank station is the old Bank of England where there is now an upscale shopping mall and expensive shops around the perimeter of the block.

For modern architecture of interest the new Swiss Re building, the "gherkin" is closish but looks better from a distance while Richard Roger's Lloyd's building rewards up close looking with its amazing detailing.

view from rooftop room

Also not too far away is the Barbican which is a concert and film venue which has various arts-related shows as well. It is a whole complex with apartments, a small lake, and an ancient church in the center -- St. Giles, Cripplegate.

A short walk across the Millenium bridge (aka Wobbly bridge) takes you to the South Bank of the Thames which has attractions such as the Tate Modern art gallery. Right in front of Tate Modern is a jetty where you can catch boats that ply up and down the river -- go up past the Houses of Parliament to the original Tate or go down to the gothic splendour of Tower Bridge, or further afield to places such as Greenwich.

All in all, it's a not a bad place to explore the quieter aspects of London from.

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