Getting Started In London With The Barmy Badger
Before you arrive in London as a backpacker you will need to find out how to get about the city, where to explore and most importantly where you will call home!
With so many great backpacker hostels available throughout the Capital, we went to one of the best in the business, the Barmy Badger Backpackers in Earls Court, London. Sharing what The Badger offers its guests as well as providing some great advice for experiencing the best London has to offer, Liz who manages the hostel takes some of our question.
Hi Liz, thank you for taking the time to answer some questions for us at Taxback. Could you tell us a little bit about Barmy Badger Backpacker?
When we first opened The Badger (in 1997), Ken and I wanted to provide a good quality, clean and fair priced hostel for backpackers. The standard of hostels in London at that time were appalling and we had experienced (and worked) in excellent hostels around the world so we set the hostel up as somewhere where we would wish to stay ourselves! As Ken and I were both in our early twenties and most of our guests were around the same age, we treated our guests as if they were staying in our home rather than just another paying guest.
Barmy Badger has been in the business for over 17 years, what is it that keeps the backpackers coming through the doors?
We have moved with the times! Every year we improve our facilities bearing in mind what is considered essential by today’s backpackers. We custom made huge lockers with personal pin coded laptop safes for each guest so that guests know that their laptops, phones, tablets, etc are safely stored (we are the only hostel in London that has this combo).
This year we installed personal reading lights, usb ports and plugs into each bunk, we improved breakfast whilst keeping it free and upgraded our free wifi to the fastest possible. We keep on top of the maintenance and, of course, our cleanliness! The one thing that has not changed is that we still welcome guests as though they are staying in our home.
You’ve been a backpacker yourself with Ken as you travelled the world, what did you take from your experiences to make Barmy Badger a top hostel in London?
We made the dorms more spacious (rather than pack ’em all in), provided full bed linen, free tea and coffee and free breakfast, amongst other facilities. We re-modelled the kitchen to accommodate lots of people cooking and making it the main hub for socialising and meeting people.
As you are in Earls Court, what makes the area the ideal location for backpackers in London?
Earls Court is an excellent location for travellers. The tube station is a 3 minute walk away with both the Piccadilly Line and District stopping there. In September, the Piccadilly Line will run 24 hours over weekends. Leicester Square is about 15 minutes away on the tube and Victoria Station is about 10 minutes (perfect for Gatwick Airport). Travelling to and from Heathrow could not be easier – just jump on the tube! Earls Court is also very well served by the bus network especially the night buses. The Badger is also within 10 – 20 minutes walking distance of the Natural History Museum and Hyde Park.
Do you work with local companies to promote events and nights that are catered towards the backpacker travellers?
We work with one company that provides free maps, information and discounts to attractions. They also offer backpackers free walking tours and other events like pub crawls and treasure hunts. We use them because their guides are the best, they are not “corporate” and not one person has had a bad experience with them.
Where would you recommend backpackers coming to London to visit so to enjoy the city’s fantastic food and drinks scene?
London has such an amazing food and drink scene! There are so many areas that specialise in certain food, eg Brick Lane for curry, Chinatown for Chinese, etc. We usually ask a guest what they would like to eat and then send them off to places that we know are good. We have a list of quirky, different cafes, bars and gastro pubs that we recommend.
Finally, for those on Working Holiday Visa in the country, are you able to help them find work?
We advertise jobs if any of our contacts send them through and we also recommend a couple of good agencies – one based in London and another one that covers England and Scotland.
To book your bed with The Badger and experience a fantastic and memorable backpacking holiday in London give Liz and Ken a call on (+44) 020 7370 5213 or visit www.barmybadger.com