A new look for London’s Generator Hostel

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Generator London room
A newly renovated room at London Generator Hostel. Photo: Courtesy of the hotel

Mention lounges decked out with designs by the likes of Moooi and Tom Dixon, and you’d probably picture yourself inside a budget-busting hotel or restaurant. But they’re just a couple of the impressive pieces you’ll find in London’s far more wallet-friendly Generator Hostel, which has just undertaken a £8 million revamp.

The London Generator was the first in a chain that now includes hostels  Venice, Barcelona, and coming soon in Paris and Rome, each with the same emphasis on contemporary design and style and, sixteen years after its original opening, the London branch was felt to be looking a little tired compared to its newer counterparts.

London themes are everywhere, including this DJ booth in the bar area. Photo: courtesy of the hotel

London themes are everywhere, including this DJ booth in the bar area. Photo: courtesy of the hotel

Stylish and fun upgrades with a London theme

In terms of looks, the makeover is pretty impressive. There’s a London theme throughout, from the Mind The Gap signs to the huge red double decker bus in the bar used by DJs on club nights. In the café area, the comfy seating and the wingback chairs make it a more attractive place to hang out and check your emails than many other London cafes.

What’s even more appealing is that the design has been done with a sense of fun. Each floor is devoted to a different famous fictional Brit, ranging from the sublime, in the examples of Alice in Wonderland or Mary Poppins, to the more ridiculous Ali G and Austin Powers.

The rooms have a new colorful feel. Photo: Frances Ambler

The rooms have a modern and bright feel with a few colorful touches to liven them up. Photo: Frances Ambler

Affordable and bright (but still small) rooms

However, when it comes to the rooms the revamp has, unfortunately, had to be a little more limited. As the hostel is housed in a listed historic building that once provided accommodation for the local police it means they haven’t been able to make any structural changes to address the complaints about small rooms that frequently crop up in online reviews. The only rooms with ensuite facilities remain the twin rooms. Furthermore, each room has been given a colorful paint job to make it feel a bit brighter and clever under-bed lockable storage helps maximize the space.

Tasty food & cocktails but no kitchen

Another possibly divisive factor is that the hostel contains no self-catering facilities for its 870 guests. There’s a full café and bar menu, with appetizing sounding dishes such as bacon, leek and Stilton tart with a watercress salad or a toasted flatbread with hummus and roasted red peppers, goats cheese and rocket at competitive but not bargain basement prices. Perhaps more indicatively there’s also an extensive reasonably priced menu of cocktails and shooters.

Generator bar

The bar is pretty to look at, but the youthful scene might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Photo: Courtesy of the hotel

The lively scene may not be for everyone

To its credit, London’s Generator is trying to keep the sociable aspect of hostel staying alive, with nightly DJs, film screenings and events such as quizzes. There’s music playing throughout the reception area too, making for a lively feel—perhaps too lively for some. In fact, comments about the noise remain the most common complaint in online reviews.

The care and attention to detail that have been put into the revamp definitely make it worth checking out, that is if the idea of staying in a large, buzzy and irrepressibly lively hostel appeals. For a more sedate time, you might be better looking at a smaller hotel, even if the chairs aren’t quite so handsome.

Read our full review of the hostel here, along with dozens of other affordable London hotel options.

About the author

Frances Ambler

Frances Ambler has been doing her best to live in London on the cheap since 2003. She works as an editor in one of London’s best – and free – museums, as well as writing for various websites including domesticsluttery.com. An avid second-hand shopper, ten years of "research" culminated in her most recent project: writing for the soon-to-be-published "Rough Guide to Vintage London."

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