For those of you coming to London who might be searching for a cheap and livable place to crash, there is a hostel in Piccadilly Circus called Piccadilly Backpackers. That’s where I am staying (in a coed dorm — even though they advertize female-only dorms, they don’t follow that in my experience). I think this is a great hostel: affordable, quiet, no/little theft, safe and impressively clean.
A typical dorm room in the Piccadilly Backpackers hostel (this was my room, which was an eight-bed dorm).
For a nominal daily fee, the hostel provides you with a bunk bed in a mixed-sex dorm, clean sheets, a pillow and blanket, a locker (bring your own padlock), and a hot shower — free (be forewarned; they do tend to run out of hot water by 8am, though). They have an electronic card key system in place to prevent unwelcome guests from accessing either the building or your room and for only £2, you can rent two large and fluffy towels. They also have a cafeteria with a kitchen and vending machines where you can eat and that you can use for a party during the wee hours after the pubs have closed, a common room where you can watch TV, and of course, the all-important computer room (below);
Most important (in my opinion) is the computer room and internet access, which is not free.
Unfortunately, wifi is not cheap in London (it can run as much as £5-£10 per hour in some places) and worse, I was unable to purchase weekly wifi access using my credit card. You can purchase hourly and daily access at this hostel, but that’s so expensive that you are doing better to find a McDonald’s or a pub where they give free wifi with a minimal food or drink purchase. The staff at Piccadilly Backpackers have been unable to fix their wifi problem and appear not to be motivated to do so, either.
Piccadilly Backpackers provides a variety of payphones.
So this hostel is not perfect, but I enjoyed my stay very much, and I met a lot of fascinating people. Since I came to London to explore, experience and photograph the city from the buttcrack of dawn until the police chased me out of the pubs at night, a hostel was perfect for what I was seeking, and Piccadilly Backpackers was a great experience! I will return, hopefully.
(NOTE: I was not paid or compensated in any way for writing this review).