Staying in a hostel in London was my first solo hostel experience and it turned out to be really positive. After years of staying in hostels in London and around the world I can say that having concerns about the safety of a hostel is common feeling, especially if you are new to travelling.

So are London hostels safe? Yes, they are safe. Don’t worry you are not alone with this doubt, safety it is quite a popular question. You do need to take a couple of steps to ensure that you and your belongings can remain safe. These aren’t anything outside of common sense.

In this guide I will share my experience and tips for staying safe.

Who Stays in London Hostels?

London hostels tend to attract two types of people, those who are looking for budget friendly accommodation and those who have just moved to the UK.

As travellers and expats you will find that most people are looking to meet like minded people so those who are up for new experiences and enjoying what London has to offer.

The chances that the people staying in the same room want to steal or attack you is not very high on their list. We all just want to be mates right?

Here Are 11 Tips for Staying Safe in London Hostels

1. Research The Hostel Location

London is a big place and when researching a location to stay can be overwhelming! London is a set of little towns put together to make a city with their own vibes so making the right choice is important. Before choosing a place you should decide what kind of experiences you want to have, do you want to be able to walk to the landmarks easily, do you want to party, are you looking for some peace and quiet? This will all affect where you should stay in London.

From there you can then look at narrowing down the locations and safety of those areas of London. The London crime map is great for comparing safety in different areas.

A few recommendation of what areas to stay in London:

Bermondsey & London Bridge

Area vibe: It’s the perfect place to stay if you love to discover new street-food, craft beer and gin.

Safety: I commute into London Bridge and work in City of London so I am really familiar with the safety in this area. At no point have I ever felt unsafe walking around this area, however, there was an incident in the area which upped the safety. You will find that London Bridge and other parts that have bollards protecting the pedestrian pathways.

Covent Garden and Soho

Area Vibe: Right in the middle of the action, always bustling, surrounded by restaurants and bars and in the theatre district.

Safety: In the heavy populated areas you will see police presence and also in high traffic pedestrian pathways bollards protecting those areas. Being a high tourist area it does attract people stealing phones, wallet, cash and anything that is easy to grab. Just make sure you are aware of what you are doing with your belongings.

Greenwich

Area Vibe: It is further out to see the main attractions of London but the attraction is that it is a little quieter, full of open space and greenery. Plenty of restaurants, markets, bars or a great place to have a picnic when the sun is shining.

Safety: It’s a reasonable place to stay as far as safety, lots of tourists during the day and local around.

Shoreditch

Area vibe: There is always something happening in Shoreditch from the curry mile, vintage shopping, street art and cool bars there is something to keep you occupied every day of the week.

Safety: It’s one of the nightlife areas so you will see more drunk people and an occasional argument but nothing you wouldn’t see in any nightlife area. The area has incidents of theft like bikes riding by and stealing your phone. Make sure you are aware of what you are doing with your phone and belongings.

2. Read The Reviews of The Hostel

Reading reviews of the hostel can help you determine whether it’s worth staying there, for example, value for money, security, location, staff, atmosphere, cleanliness and facilities.

If the reviews start highlighting that people feel unsafe in area, their stuff was stolen or they felt harassed then it’s a big red flag! As a rule, I will read a minimum of 10 reviews on each hostel I am considering staying at to get a feel of people thought of the place.

3. Consider Female-Only Rooms and/or Hostels

Not everyone is comfortable staying in mixed rooms but thankfully for us ladies there female only rooms and hostels.

Benefits to staying in female only accommodation:

  • The rooms are better equipped for the female traveler with high-quality mirror, lots of hooks and hairdryers.
  • Dorm rooms can be smaller e.g. you could fd yourself in a 6 bed dorm instead of a 12 bed one.
  • It’s easier to get changed in female only dorms, you don’t have to worry about boys looking at you.
  • Guys aren’t allowed so you won’t have those awkward moments if someone picks up.

Disadvantages:

  • Female dorms cost more than mixed dorms so will have an impact on your budget.
  • Girls can be just as messy!

4. Know How to Get to Your Hostel When You Arrive

My first experience of trying to get to my hostel in London was a disaster. After landing in London after a 20+ hour flight from Australia, I was really tired lugging a heavy suitcase and thought a print out of the hostel directions (no map) would be enough to get me to the hostel.

I had never been to London and had no understanding of the complicated transport connections (I’m for a small city where the train only goes in 4 directions). Totally oblivious that the hostel was in Kingscross which is a major hub for public transport in London with about 20 exits to get out of the tube station.

After spending about an hour walking around in circles and asking for help I finally found my hostel.

Make sure you know how to get to your hostel when you arrive! This is super important if you are arriving late at night. With the increase of free WiFi and the ability to download offline maps finding your way is a lot easier! In doubt grab a taxi so you get there safely.

5. Speak to The Staff if You Have Concerns

Hostel staff will be very familiar with the area so raise any concerns you have with them. They should be able to tell you what to watch out for, scams and places to skip. It’s common the staff will be living at the hostel or in London so they are a great source for information.

6. Use The Lockers

Before you start travelling pick up a good travel lock. Look for locks that cannot be easily damaged, cut or otherwise accessed with some effort and the right tools. Four digit padlocks are great as you can have over 10,000 combination and almost impossible for people to figure it out.

A good hostel will offer lockers to store your belongings in. When you get into your room check that the locker is tack, nothing is damaged and then just lock it on your way out.

7. Watch Your Belongings You Care About

As someone that travels with lots of tech items this is something I am most worried about when travelling. First have good travel insurance to cover high valued items so if anything does happen you aren’t out of pocket.

Every time you leave the room put your high value items in the locker and lock it. Even if you feel safe in your dorm rooms you never know what could happen. Private rooms don’t always have lockers so consider locking your bag and distributing it so it’s harder to find.

8. Copy Your Passport and e-mail it to Yourself

Take copies of your passport, any visa or important documents before you travel. E-mail copies to yourself and your family as a safety measure. It’s way easier proving who you are when there are photocopies!

I also only take out one form of ID so if I take my licence I don’t take my passport, if I take my passport I leave my licence behind.

9. Know Where Your Nearest Embassy Is

London has a pretty good police force, after all it’s a big city and they deal with a lot of crap! Knowing where your embassy is will help you if something like your passport gets lost or stolen. Luckily London is a hub for embassies so there is a good chance your embassy will be in London to support you.

10. Drink Responsibly

It’s sad that I have to include this in the tips as there is still a culture that it’s ok to take advantage of people when they are intoxicated. Whether it’s sexual assalt or stealing your belongings and it can happen accross both genders.

It’s easy to get carried away when making new friends and I am definitely guilty in having too many drinks on more than one occasional when travelling.

I’ve never been in an incident myself where I have been assaulted but I have definitely been robbed on a night out (both in London and in Australia) so it doesn’t matter what city you are in this can happen anywhere!

Carry the hostel business card with you so you can give it people (taxi driver, police officer etc) if you need help. If you feel like you are unsafe or just want to make sure people know where you are at all times text a friend your location even if they are not in the same country or awake.

11. Hide Some Backup Money in a Different Pocket

Find a few secret pockets to hide cards and money in as another precaution. This tip is more than just safety it protects you if anything happens to your money.

As an example on a recent trip to Thailand, I decided to take one travel card and then my credit card plus my normal bank card. I got off the plane after a full day of work and then 18 hours of travel, put my travel card in the ATM and then forget to take it out! The receiving cash before taking my bank card through me off and I never took it out in my tired state 😂. After losing out on covering everything back to pounds next thing I know I’m looking at my American express statement thinking how on earth has my balance gone down £500! Turns out someone got my credit card details and went on a spending spree. Thankfully it’ll all get refunded and my boyfriend is travelling with another travel card so I didn’t end up getting all the bank fees. It just goes to show always travel with multiple cards!

If you have any questions about the areas and whether they are safe, let me know in the comment below. Plus if you have any safety tips I would love to hear about them.

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