‘Clink78 is set in a beautiful 200 year-old courthouse that mixes elegant Victorian architecture with modern interior design. Clink78 is a social hub and a great place to stay to meet other travellers, but with its on-site basement bar; Clash Bar and space for over 500 guests, things can get very lively!’
When Clink Hostels first approached me about reviewing their hostel in London, I was all over it like a pig in mud. I wanted for ages to stay in a hostel in London and finally have my own space where I could call home for a few days. No disrespect to my friends who I usually hit up to stay on their floor, I needed some me time as well. Clink Hostels could offer me just that.
So when they asked me which hostel I wanted to stay at (as there have two in London), I looked on their website and you know what?
It wasn’t hard to choose.
Clink78 would be the place where I would lay my hat.
My eyes were fastened on the screen where it said prison cells.
I want to stay and sleep in a prison cell room.
If I didn’t, it would be criminal. (Feel free to cringe)
So why would I want to stay in a Prison cell in the old courthouse of all the rooms that’s on offer?
- I wanted to have a memorable experience in a quirky room. I’ve stayed in too many unmemorable 6 bed dorm rooms to count that everything blurs together
- As I am nearly (ahem) 30 something, I feel the need to have my own room these days and the idea of sharing a dorm room with 5 other beer swilling 18 year olds flirting with each other at 2am was not my idea of fun these days. The Prison cell offers solitary confinement or you could share a bunkbed with your partner in crime. (This time I would be on the lam, solo.)
- The prison cells has actually been used by real criminals.
- The prison cells are English Heritage listed with the original prison features including heavy metal door with hatch, barred window, bench and…steel toilet. (Thankfully, it’s not in use today)
So as you can gather, with a morbid sense of humour, I was willing to be banged up for two nights for a fateful weekend in February.
Would Clink78 plead guilty for a comfy stay in London or is the jury still out on the hostel? Let’s get this out on trial. (I do apologise for these puns…no, not really, put up with it)
Directions & Location
Clink78 was actually in a perfect location for me in London-based in King’s Cross.
- The hostel is only 5-10 minutes walk away through lit streets from King’s Cross Station, which is perfect for me as that’s the station I use to travel to and fro from the North-East of England.
- Night buses drive past Clink78 hostel long after the Underground closes. This makes it the perfect location to go back to after a good night out.
- There are late night convenience stores around to stock up snacking goodness.
If you need to find out more details where Clink78 is, click here: Clink78 Location
Turning around the corner trying to find the hostel, I was faced with this beautiful 200-year-old Courthouse on the corner of two quiet main roads glistening with history and fame. This view simply just made me stand for a moment, wondering how a lively hostel somehow got ownership of this seemingly quiet Victorian building.
I think we better check inside, don’t you?
First, the door rattled as I pulled it, it was shut. Peering in the glass windows, I saw the telltale sign of a bouncer with their trademark neon green armband. Knocking on the window, he jumped to let me in with a friendly hello.
This was a hostel that took its security seriously.
To get in after 8pm, you need to have your keycard displayed to be let in.
So, I marvelled at the sight of the grand hall, still retained its courthouse features. The reception desk was busy, the travel desk pestered by eager backpackers, and sofas that sat relaxed residents glued to their phones and tablets.
Striding up to the desk, I asked for my reservation, key and Wi-Fi code. They were efficient and provided me with the details needed. The rules were explained quickly and they told me to check out at 10am on the day I needed to.
If there was an improvement to be made on, it would be that I would appreciate a service with a smile. They did the job as expected of them but I wasn’t made to feel especially welcome. Perhaps dealing with 499 other backpackers in the hostel may have done that.
I did notice throughout my stay that they were efficient in checking the quality of the rooms and communal areas, particularly on one such occasion that amused me when I was in the floor shared bathroom brushing my teeth in my underpants and a staff member came in complete with clipboard and bent over to check the U bend of the sink I was at!
Now, with my keycard at the ready. Let’s check out my prison cell. I was ready to be called to order.
Squeezed in the prison cells corridor, I found my slammer. I couldn’t help but be bemused by the cartoon characters that looked like they were ready to Jailhouse Rock.
But after swiping the keycard, the heavy door swung open with a creak to reveal the jail inside. It was claustrophobic, tiny and darkness seeped in every corner. I loved it. This was accommodation with a twist and I wanted to see if I could make the night without any ghouls waking me up.
Two bunk beds, the same used by criminals, wedged tightly against the wall, left only a small space that wasn’t big enough to swing a ball and chain round. This was authenticity at its best. A quilt and towel was folded up neatly on the bed. The was a mini clear glass top over the steel toilet giving you a good look into the bowl below. On the other end of the prison cell, there was a wooden shelf where you could store your luggage. That was also where the only single plug socket in the room was. But you can’t complain as any further plug sockets would ruin the ambience of the room. Finally, a small mirror hung on the wall.
So how did I fare to sleep in the prison cell?
Really well actually! I was snug as a bug in a rug. It was quiet, dark and the mattress comfy. I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night. So good marks on that!
The only thing I would say is that the prison cell did get cold and I had to throw an extra quilt on to keep warm.
My other concern is that there wasn’t a locker in the room to keep your valuables in. I realise that Clink78 does have lockers in the communal areas but I’ll get on to that. But a safe in a criminal prison cell? Perhaps that would be also broken into!
As there were no en-suite bathrooms in the prison cell (unless I really wanted to use the steel toilet), I had to share a communal bathroom with my entire floor. I had visions of dropping the soap in a prison bathroom but luckily for me, that didn’t prove to be the case. The showers are set into cubicles and hot water are in plentiful supply through a push button.
Overall, I expected a backpackers’ bathroom and despite the usual ‘boy smell,’ I was fairly happy with the standard of quality.
Down in the dungeon of the courthouse lies the Clash Bar where lively backpackers go to party their socks off to house music, the cheap drinks (compared to London prices) are in popular demand. A late-licence bar, it is named the Clash Bar in homage to the punk rockers ‘The Clash’ who stood trial in this courthouse in 1978.
You can either strut your stuff on the dance floor or simply chill out on the sofas and watch the flirting from a far.
A great addition to the hostel, I do have to say.
Now, let’s get something straight. I didn’t realise how many people could fit into Clink78 until breakfast on the first morning. Throughout the previous evening, even at the Clash Bar, it felt that there wasn’t many people in the hostel and actually, the mood of the hostel was quiet.
Breakfast, the next morning, was a whole another story. The dining room was absolutely packed to the rafters so sometimes it was hard to find a space for little solo me. But once I did, it was also a great way to get to know other people over the table.
The options for breakfast ranged from toast to cereal. Coffee and tea was also served.
It was alright and met the basics of my expectations.
There are a few facilities that visitors can take advantage of:
- The Courtroom – Of course there will be a courtroom in the Courthouse. It’s actually transformed into a living area where you could work on your laptops here. But you can choose where you want to sit in court. Maybe sat on the judge’s chair? The witness stand or perhaps even the dock!
- The TV Room – Perhaps you’d prefer to be in the media room watching proceedings take place. Or just a simply movie? Just ask for a DVD at reception and snuggle up to another backpacker.
- Safes – as said, there are safes dotted throughout the communal areas in the hostel. Some you might require to have your own padlock to lock it with. But there are some where it is automated where you would have to pay £2.50 for 24 hours security. I wasn’t too best pleased when I had to pay for a safe but it did the job.
For this travel blogger, Wi-Fi is my life blood so it comes to no surprise that I review the Wi-Fi.
After you are given your Wi-Fi code upon checking in, you can only get the signal in the common areas or in the Clash Bar in the basement. Unfortunately, you cannot access it in your room. But as I’m a UK resident, I could get the internet easily through 3G but thinking of a visiting foreign backpacker, it may be frustrating for them not to get the signal from the confines of their own bed.
So on the charge of being an amazing backpackers’ hostel to stay in London. Is Clink78 guilty or not guilty?
This foreman is here to deliver the verdict.
The vote is GUILTY by a majority.
With the added bonus of 4 out of 5 stars, the vote could have been unanimous if Breakfast were a much more relaxed affair and there was a locker in my room to hide my evidence.
But the biggest question is:
‘Would I commit a crime to return to this jail?’
Just watch me be a smooth criminal soon…
If you want to know more about this hostel, just click here: Clink Hostels
Have you stayed in Clink Hostels? What did you think about them?