“ Address: 71 Guilford Street / WC1N 1DF / London / England „
Smart Russell Square
I chose this hostel because it was down the road where I used to live for a year at university (sob sob) and I wanted a chance to return to the area which I loved. This hostel was perfect as it was a stone throw from Brunswick Centre which provides all the necessary products we needed. The price of the hostel also helped! We ordered a 24-mixed room dormitory, with 2 separate beds.
This place is around the corner from Russell Square tube station, barely a 100 yards walk. When approaching it, it isn't obvious that this is a hostel as it has NHS signs everywhere which made us panic in case we were walking into the wrong house and end up embarrassing ourselves! Luckily, it was the right place and finding the reception was simple.
The check-in was very easy; we showed them our E-tickets with 2 reserved beds and paid £10 each for the night for 24-mixed dormitory which we thought was an utter bargain! They handed us our linens for the duvet and pillow. I enquired about towels; they had towels for hire for £5. I was feeling a bit tight that evening. Luckily, the lady offered to sneak in an extra bed linen that I could use as a towel.
We had to pay £10 each a security fee for damage or loss of linens so that if you turn up in the morning, and someone has stolen your linen, you'd lose your £10 or even if you turn up to the desk to check out just after 10am, you'd lose the £10. We thought it was a bit unfair but went along with it. They handed us our cards that was specific to each room and they worked pretty well and gave us a piece of paper that would go into a clear pocket on the railing of the bed. As it was very chaotic at the time we checked in; we had to make our own way to the room we were told to go to.
At this point, you don't actually realise how hot the house is until you walk into the rooms. As soon as we walked into our designated room, we started sweating buckets. We concluded that the weather that we experienced that day contributed to the humidity of the room. We set to find our beds, as we weren't given specific beds, we were just told there was 2 beds spare in the room. The beds in the 24-bed dorm was nicely put together, with 3 beds on top of each other, I didn't quite envy the people who were on the 3rd bed on the top as it looked like a high drop! What I did like about those bunk beds was that curtains were provided so one could get ultimate privacy and get changed in their bed. That was a major plus as I hate it when people see me sleeping! Though, some people took it to mean they could spend some 'intimate' time with their retrospective other half! Apart from the occupied beds, it was fairly clean actually. The floors and the provided sink was immaculate. The bedding provided was very clean and admittingly, smelled good!
We found a spare bed very quickly as it was obviously empty. Then we set to find the other bed. It was a challenge as all the beds looked occupied; we spoke to other people who were there the night too and said there was only one. We carried on looking, opening the curtains on their beds unfortunately invading the privacy of a few people, we were looking for the see-through pocket that contains the paper with dates on it and such. We went back to the reception saying we couldn't find a bed, they must get this a lot as they told us to look properly. Then we returned back to the customer services. So they said as a compromise, go for showers and come back at 11pm and there will be a spare bed in the room. So we did. There still wasn't. So we went back and the man went to check on the computer and actually there wasn't 2 beds spare, it was the one. So he gave us a replacement room; a room which was more expensive than what we paid for! We went up 2 flights of stairs and went into the room- it was a 6-dorm single sex. And what shocked us was the extreme change in humidity; it was SO humid! There was a window open but it'd only open to allow a 10cm gap and no air really flowed in. Due to the extreme humidity of the room, I had a very restless sleep and woke up with my chest being soaked in sweat. And I wouldn't shower for another day! The bunk beds were the same make as the one in the previous room.
When attempting to find the facilities, the hostel was a maze; it was rather confusing. I ended up using the toilets which was 2 floors down in the basement. It was fairly clean, with modern cubicles which was rather cool, though there was a lot of stickers on in the inside door advertising against STIs which made me a little uneasy! The showers wasn't very easy to find either; when I did, it was fairly relaxed place to get changed and most importantly: its only for females! I didn't expect too much out of the shower and rightly I didn't. It was very difficult to use the shower, having to hold the button the entire time to keep it running; there was no timer on the button that would have left it running for 5 minutes as the previous hostel had. So it was a juggling act to wash shampoo out of my hair while pressing the button at the same time! It was separated into cubicles and each one had 2 railings; one for the curtains and one to put your clothes over. I used my linen 'towel' and went to dry my hair with the hair-dryer. It wouldn't work. Went to try the other; it worked but I couldn't figure out how to get it on hot setting so I spent 30 minutes drying my hair with cold air and it was still wet!
While settling in for the night; my friend found it difficult to get to sleep due to the constant banging of the doors and people shouting but me? I found that the noise wasn't a problem, the humidity was!
In the morning; woke up bright and early to collect our security fees. We made our way down to the common room, it was very chaotic and there was no spaces to sit down at all. The breakfast provided was bread with this really cool toasting machine that wouldn't look out of place in an industrial factory! They had cereal which was cornflakes with warm full fat milk and provided wide range of hot drinks. This was pretty good for the price we paid for it.
It boasts a wide range of facilities; communal showers, common room, games room, wireless internet, computers, communal kitchen and many others. I would say that when arriving at 9pm, the common room was in full flow; tens of people were coming and going every minute; it was full to the brim, so do choose carefully what time of the year you pop up in this place.
In all, a lacklustre customer services, beds that we reserved were gone and an extremely warm building that didn't help with our sleep. But I will come back here again, just for the fantastic price!