Being budget travellers, we search long and hard to find the most economical places to stay around the world. Going to London during Wimbledon and The Olympics, there weren’t a lot of bargains to be found!
After a lot of searching, we used budgetplaces.com to find ‘Hostel Houses,’ run by a charming Frenchman named Mario. Budget Places apparently take a whopping 30% of the booking money, so Mario advised us, and we advise you, to try and deal directly with the owner/proprietor if you can. Mario actually rents his hostel(s) and then sub-lets the rooms to others.
Mario tries to create a kind of family atmosphere in his hostel(s) with a communal kitchen, lounge with satellite TV, outdoor areas and shared cooking encouraged.
So we arrived at Oaklands Grove, Shepherds Bush, not really knowing what to expect, because this was our first time in 6 months that we had to deal with a ‘shared bathroom’ situation. It was a four storey attached terrace house and it was brilliant!!
With 9 bedrooms in the hostel, and as many as 3 per room, there were approximately 20 staying there during our stay! We had our own room but had to share one of the three bathrooms. This worked surprisingly well.. you just left the door open when you weren’t using it. We tended to get up before most of the others anyway, because most work late and many are party animals.
There were several Irish guys, some Italians, some Spanish, some French, a German, a Greek, a Swede, even another Aussie from Perth. Including Jenny there were five females, which probably helped keep things tidier, as well as our host Mario who also did the ‘cleaning.’
I am sure this kind of living arrangement would not suit everyone, but Jenny and I both loved it! They were a great group of people and the nearby community of Shepherds Bush is amazingly multicultural, cosmopolitan and lacking nothing! Excellent transport, a huge range of shops, pubs and restaurants and very competitively priced. Shepherds Bush Market is just down the road too.
But it was the people who made it! Every day there were great conversations happening, indoors and out. Everyone spoke ‘English’ at various levels, but sometimes we had trouble understanding. Wayne, with the strongest Irish brogue, told us that “everyone spent most of last night in the Walkabout” (the local Aussie hotel.) Jenny thought he said “in the water-bed!” We went to Wimbledon with Albin (he Tsonga, us Hewitt) and shared drinks and conversation with most of the residents at various stages.
Although many are staying long-term , there is almost a revolving door of short term residents which adds to the mix. Everyone goes out of their way to include everyone, whether they can underdstand them or not!
Two of the Irish guys, Wayne and Ryan, are staying here away from their families, but work hard to get ahead. We had builders, caterers, chefs, ex-teachers and waitresses all living under the one roof. With the kitchen, TV and lounge area all downstairs, we were always touching base.
After a day of Wimbledon, Lords or sightseeing it was great to share a few drinks, and sometimes a meal, watch the Euro 2012 soccer, Wimbledon or even the equally crappy English version of ‘Deal or No Deal.’
Shades of Number 96!!! I can smell a movie script, TV drama or book coming out of this one!