A Very Award-ing Safestay at WTM London
When I headed to London in early November for the World Travel Market 2012, it was my first time seeing the capital properly for a few years. The week’s accommodation was kindly provided for me by London’s newest hostel outfit, Safestay in Elephant & Castle. After a busy few days pitching tourist boards and many a PR person, it was good to let off steam at the Hostelbookers Travel Blogger Awards, taking some cheeky snaps while socialising with a few industry people and heaps of bloggers.
Despite loving to travel, I’ve not really been much of a tourist within the British Isles. Travelling in the country you grow up in means less new food and culture to experience for starters. Add that to the relative expense of the UK (its cheaper to fly abroad for a much longer trip), and the infamous British weather, I haven’t made exploring my homelands a priority.
But from taking this blogging malarkey seriously and throughout my recent travels, I’ve realised that when you visit new lands and meet the locals it’s really important to know plenty about the place you come from. Sure, I can talk about British culture, about our foods, lifestyles and politics. But it’s always a surprise to have travellers from other lands chip in about their favourite parts of the capital, or trips to Stonehenge, the Scottish Highlands, and Sherwood Forest. However unlikely it sounds to a Brit, they love tales of Robin Hood in Asia!
So as a travelling blogger, experiencing more British Tourism (and Ireland too) is one of my goals before setting off for more long-term travel later in 2013. Despite in the past being completely against the idea of London as representative of Britain (it’s not), thoroughly despising the senseless price bubble, low air quality, and enthusiastic over-crowding, I made sure to keep an open mind for this first re-visit.
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Sleeping at Safestay, about 10 minutes walk from the tube stop, I got to see the area around Elephant & Castle. Some of the Londoners who asked where I was based raised their eyebrows at the location, but I really liked it! With a mixture of communities living in the area, it reminded me a lot of Rusholme in Manchester. There were plenty of little caff’s (different to a ‘cafe’, they’re just not the same thing) for a decent feed or a cuppa, and I ate at a nice Brazilian restaurant that the hostel staff recommended. Also very importantly, there’s a great selection of late night takeaway’s between the tube and the hostel, one of which I had my best food of the trip from – a beautiful Indian curry with a couple of fresh chapati’s. No, I wasn’t drunk, it was bloody good curry.
Getting back to the hostel at all hours of the day and night, limited by the (very annoying) tube curfew, I didn’t feel unsafe going to and fro, and neither did my blogger room-mates. Safestay itself is pretty swish. The modern design has nice touches, like street-art prints, carpets to really wake you up at breakfast, and funky mirrors in the WC’s. The dorm bunks all have privacy curtains, which I think is rapidly becoming a must-have for any decent hostel, and the toilets and showers are top notch as you’d expect from a new hostel. A lack of wifi on the second floor was painful for us bloggers, but the huge basement lounge with table football, pool, a bar serving hot food and drinks, and plenty of comfy seats next to power points more than made up for that. Recommended if you need a bed in the area!
Highlight of the week went to the outstanding party hosted by the gang at Hostelbookers, so they could give out their 2012 Travel Blogger Awards. Nominated bloggers in several categories were voted for by their peers and readers, and I managed to get a few shots of the winners with my sexy lens. Starting the night with a complimentary mojito and two drinks vouchers, they kept the dance floor alive after the awards by discreetly producing more drinks vouchers as the night progressed. How I love them for that little trick! My camera was ‘safely’ hidden under a pile of jackets by that time, but you can see more shots of the fun from their pictures of the night too. Here are the few photo’s I got, and more pictures of people from WTM are coming soon.