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The ultimate South London budget place to stay, housed in the former home of the Labour Party.

Safestay London Elephant & Castle

144-152 Walworth Road Elephant & Castle London SE17 1JL 020 7703 8000

We say

Housed in an expansive Georgian building on Walworth Road, just five minutes from up-and-coming Elephant & Castle, and not much further from trendy Borough and London Bridge, this Safestay Hostel is the gritty urban alternative to its fancier cousin across the river in Holland Park – and that's as it should be, because it occupies John Smith House which was for years the headquarters of the Labour Party.

Like all the Safestay hostels (there are others in York and Edinburgh), it's run a bit like a hotel, with a funky, contemporary  style – lots of purple – and room sizes to suit all tastes and needs, from private rooms with en-suite facilities  through to 4-, 6- and 8-bed dormitories equipped with Safestay's own brand of bunk beds – fitted with a personal night-light and power socket and surrounded by privacy curtains. There's a large public space, including a garden, and breakfast is free, as is the wifi. The licensed bar serves snacks and light refreshments and you can also enjoy a drink in the courtyard garden.

It's not really a place for partying backpackers, but there is loads to do on your doorstep, with Elephant & Castle tube station just a few minutes' away and the delights of the South Bank and Waterloo, Tate Britain and the Globe not much further. It's one of the best city hostels in London, where it can be tough to find hostels that offer budget city breaks without sacrificing quality.

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