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Palmers Lodges - Swiss Cottage

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Hostelz.com's Review
Palmers Lodge Hostel is a lovely Victorian mansion and calls itself a boutique backpackers. It's a nice change from average buildings -- it feels rather special.

The Location

The location is good -- North West London in the London Borough of Camden. It is a five-minute bus ride (Bus 31 Stop E on Avenue Road -- down from the tube) or a twenty-minute walk to Camden. It is in zone 2 but is only four stops on the Jubilee line to Bond Street/Central London. Swiss Cottage tube is about a two-minute walk from the hostel as well as Finchley Road tube a five-minute walk away. Just a few minutes further is Finchley Road and Frognal Overground. Swiss Cottage is a nice, middle class area with many shops, pubs, and eating places on Finchley Road. There is also the landmark pub Swiss Cottage that gives the area its name. It sits on the crossroads of the districts of St. John's Wood (where celebs live), Hampstead, West Hampstead, and Primrose Hill and is minutes from the hostel. Right down the street from the hostel is a twenty-four-hour deli which is very popular with the hostelers. There is free parking available at the hostel.

Rooms and Bathrooms

There are private rooms. There are dorm rooms ranging in size from four up to twenty-eight beds. Some rooms have curtains around the beds, others do not. There are female-only dorms or mixed dorms. Some mixed dorms have double beds for couples! Rooms are accessed by key card. There are lockers under the beds but they are rather awkward to pull out if you have another bunk close by! Also the two lockers under each bunk are joined together, so you have to pull out your own locker and your bunk buddy's locker too. Beds are ready made up on arrival (2 p.m. check-in) and if you stay a while, housekeepers will change the sheets weekly. Each bed has its own reading light. This can be annoying if there are no curtains around the bed and you are trying to sleep!

All dorms have a different character due to this hostel being an old mansion -- some are a little gloomy. There is one female dorm with ensuite bathroom but apparently this is about to be converted into private rooms. All other rooms use communal bathrooms -- all are mixed. The bathrooms are the only part of the building that are not in keeping with the old mansion -- they are new modern bathrooms. They can get smelly. Shower water pressure is not particularly good. Also since bathrooms are mixed most people probably prefer to dress in the shower. There is room for this with a small bench and hooks, however the shower stalls get very steamy and wet so you may find it difficult! There are soap dispensers in the bathrooms and paper towels and hand dryers. Some toilet cubicles have tiny sinks and soap dispensers in the toilet cubicle. It is very difficult to wash ones face in these tiny sinks. The floors also get very wet. Rooms and bathrooms are cleaned daily.

Common Spaces

There is a large lobby with twenty-four-hour reception where you can book tours. There are also many London souvenirs to purchase. Board games are available to rent. There are computers for internet access in the lobby (internet is free, as is Wi-Fi, which is available throughout most of the hostel). However many people do a lot of downloading so the internet can get slow. There is a grand television lounge with books above the fireplace as well as computers, a pool table, a tea and coffee machine, and vending machines. The TV lounge, usually full of laptop users, is not really great for watching TV due to the layout and size. Also the TV only has channels 1 through 5 (but there is a television in the kitchen that has sky channels).

In the basement is a restaurant serving cheap evening meals Monday through Saturday. There is free breakfast in the morning, which consists of juice, fruit, cereal, toast, and croissants. There is no guest fridge and no kitchen for cooking, but there is a microwave and kettle. There is a bar with cheap drinks, and bringing your own alcohol into the hostel is forbidden. There is a conservatory area above the bar. There is an outdoor patio with seats and a BBQ for summer. All common areas are social, particularly the bar, for obvious reasons! The weekend is the liveliest time in the bar -- people sometimes dance on tables! There is luggage storage for free. There are also lockers available for a price. There is an elevator. There are laundry facilities and an ironing board.

Summary

This is a great comfortable hostel. It is easy to meet people and have fun in the bar but it is not a major party hostel so you can get a good night's sleep. It is lacking a guest kitchen and not everyone will like the mixed bathrooms. Despite this the hostel attracts a lot of long stayers looking for jobs -- probably due to the free Wi-Fi. The hostel is very friendly. Overall it's a great option. It's clean and welcoming, and being an old English mansion is a great experience for foreign travelers.

Exclusive Hostelz.com Review
March 2009

Photos taken by the Hostelz.com reviewer — Genuine photos you can trust.
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How is Palmers Lodges - Swiss Cottage rated on other websites?
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Hostelworld  
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Hostelz.com Guest Reviews
4   Fairly good, but some quibbles The Palmer's Lodge is a pretty comfortable hostel with a slew of amenities and lots of beds and is located close to a tube station. Unfortunately, it falls short in a few ways. My room was right by the outdoor seating area for the bar, and it was very loud at night on the weekends. The bathrooms are far away from many of the rooms and the showers, while they say should stay on for 30 seconds, actually stay on for about 2 seconds, so you have to shower while holding the button down all the time. You can only connect one device to the wifi using your password that you're given, so you have to constantly log in over and over if you have a phone and a laptop. On the other hand, the facilities are clean and the rooms are secure. The beds and lockers are good quality. It is a fairly antisocial hostel, as the beds have curtains on them and you can never tell if someone is trying to sleep in the room. Thus, people don't really talk in the rooms, or if they have to, just whisper. The common areas are comfortable, but again, people seem to keep to themselves.  , age 24, USA ()
3   Time Spent Limited I didn't spend a lot of time at Palmers. The accommodations were fine. I liked having a curtain around the bed and a bed light to put on in order to navigate in the dark when others were asleep. I probably ought to have stayed in a room that held less than 14 females to avoid the nuisances of having to share space. The showers and bathrooms were clean. Breakfast was simple (toast, croissants, tea, coffee). The common area was usually busy at night, which meant there weren't enough working outlets to plug in electronics. The help at the desk was wonderful. They were friendly and tried to help out to the best of their ability. The location of Palmers is convenient. It is a two minute walk from the Underground. One can walk to Primrose Hill, Hyde Park, and Regent from Palmers rather than taking a bus, the Underground. If flying in from Heathrow, the total time spent on the Underground was about 1 hr to reach Palmers.  , American ()
4   A hostel of character rather than characters. This is about the 11th hostel I've stayed in London and it's definitely one of the best (though I've yet to find a great hostel in London). It's an interesting place with a lot of nice, well-thought-out touches. I tend to put hostels into 4 categories -- the nice but often dull, the chain hostels, the independent backpackers, and the ‘ropey but interesting'. The very best are always one of the latter two and have reviews varying wildly from 5 stars to 1. Palmers Lodge is a nice but dull, but to call it dull would be a little harsh. It's no party hostel but if you head to the bar there are a few comfy seats where you can sit around and chat to fellow travelers. The busiest room is the lounge upstairs. While it's nice there was virtually no conversation going on in there all weekend. The hostel location is good though. The tube is close by and although there's not a great deal in the immediate area it is close to some great suburbs in London -- It's a nice walk over Primrose Hill to Camden town, via Chalk Farm tube. This will give you a good feel for north London -- The dorms are 3 high but have curtains and feel private. The higher beds also have shelves for storing belongings overnight and the lockers for bags are a reasonable size. There are lots of showers and the place in general is very clean, though closing bathrooms for cleaning before checkout times is not particularly clever. It could be great but they would benefit from organising social activities in the lounge area. Something free or cheap each night which would bring people together to socialise more. The biggest negative for this hostel was the lack of plugs for charging phones. Unless you're in the bottom bunk there just isn't anywhere to charge them and with the reliance we have on our phones nowadays they need to address this. Every night I was sat on a bench on the stairs because it was the only accessible plug. With being in a public place you can't just leave you phone to charge so you have to sit with it. I would stay here again but other hostels may be better. 4 stars for a London hostel, but compared to hostels in other cities I'd give it 3.5.  , British ()
4   Beautiful house, feels like home I've stayed at Palmers Lodge twice and enjoyed myself both times. In December 2008, I went to London for New Years and had a blast. They had drink specials in the bar and the staff were great. I also had a nice cheap meal there. Although it's not that close to the city, Swiss Cottage is a great neighborhood, with the O2 centre nearby, as well as Hampstead Heath. I also went in November 2010 for a job interview. The staff was helpful. There was a problem with noise when a girl lost the key to her locker and the night porter had to cut it off, but I doubt that could have been avoided. It feels like home.  , USA ()
1   NIGHTMARE I stayed at Palmers Lodge as I am a dual citizen looking to live in the UK and Travel Europe. I needed somewhere to use as a base whilst I searched for a job and figured it all out. I spoke to Kate on reception when I first called she assured me they were willing to take long termers and that they would give me all the necessary paper work needed to get going for banks, councils. Today 01 September 2010 I went to pay my rent. I was told that I was not allowed to extend my booking as I had left a bad comment on a hostel review site, but this could not be true as I have emails from the administrator of hostel world apologising for the review processing being down. I read the review they claimed I made, it was very strange it seemed to be a vague collection of things I had asked about that had been altered and stuck together with angry slander. I think the people in reception fabricated the review as they had my email account details and knew my date of birth and particulars. I tried to speak to the house manager, he told me alot of reception staff had complained about me and I had to pack my things and leave in 15 minutes! I asked if members of staff had complained about me why no-one had given me a warning or asked for a meeting anything so I could know what was going on. He told me to get my things and get out and that he was not prepared to discuss anything and then he became aggressive clenching his fists and glaring at me and in a raised voice in front of everyone at the hostel he told me he would call the Police or Physically remove me himself from the premises. They also tried to charge me for an extra two nights as I was paying the weekly rate of £105 a week and started this process on a Friday and suddenly on the Wednesday I had to leave they told me I had to make payment. I questioned it saying I am supposed to be payed up until Friday that was the wrong thing to do an italian a woman called KATE became really rude and offensive then the Duty manager showed up and told me to Leave there and then with no warning whatsoever. Staff are terrible, (except the one Guy and the The guy that wears his cap backward they are really nice people). I suspect they are part of some sort of organised crime syndicate as even when one is wrong the others defend them. I wish there was some sort of Hotel Ombudsman as these guys really should not be allowed to operate at all. However I am aware there are housing legislation in the UK and you can't just rip someone off and then throw them out. And the duty manager that threw me out is a regular at the bar schmoozing with all the younger women that are half his age every night. The Ordeal I went through happened in front of other guests all of which were too afraid to say anything. Good Luck going there make sure you have some sort of backup! Place is a complete circus!! DO NOT GO THERE, IT IS A NIGHTMARE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  , anonymous ()
4   Really nice! Friendly staff and a great set of common rooms and bar downstairs. Met a lot of nice people here, but a good chunk of them are there as a layover to finding a job or renting an apartment and it tends to be laid back. We managed to get the usual Aussie/Canadian/American crowd out for clubbing, but it's not what you'd call a party place. Nice rooms, wifi in rooms too BIG PLUS. showers are pretty cramped but no biggie. The big mansion atmosphere is impressive. Wish we'd stayed here the entire time in London.  , Canada ()
2   Good, but staff are rude the location and facilities ok. but the staff are very rude, and unfriendly. i did not like them. you need to wait till 2 p.m. till they allow check in, even when rooms are clean and empty. the toilets are so tiny that you can hardly enter there. some taps were not working. and some sinks are blocked. the showers lights turn off and on every ten seconds, they have sensor. so you need to left your hand every ten second to switch light on while taking shower. so annoying.  , ireland ()
1   Stay here at your own risk! Sketchy place -- The owner's son is stealing from guests and causing chaos. The hostel looks very nice and comfortable so you wouldn't expect this -- but then you can't even trust the staff! So I did not have a relaxing stay! I was in fear of the staff. Well some were lovely, but a few guys were very mean.  , Italy ()
Palmers Lodges - Swiss Cottage Reviews from the Web

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