green holidays made easier
This hostel is located in a quiet residential street, just yards from the throbbing Earl’s Court Road. The busy cosmopolitan hostel was severely damaged by fire in April 2006 (fortunately there were no casualties) and has been completely repaired and upgraded.
It reopened in 2007 and is gunning to appeal not only to its traditional backpacker market but also to the growing numbers of “flashpackers” visiting London. For the uninitiated these are the more affluent and mature travellers who do it in style.
“They still want to do the cool young thing,” says Manager Caroline Thompson, “but they also want their creature comforts.”
The £1.7million modernisation scheme was carried out sympathetically to retain the Victorian building’s original features, resulting in airy public rooms (one with widescreen tv), Wi-Fi technology plus a café bar on the ground floor serving high quality locally-sourced produce. It was also completely refurnished and redecorated.
“As more of our visitors were falling into the “flashpacker” bracket,” adds Caroline Thompson, “we’ve also increased the number of double and en suite rooms to cater for them.”
YHA London Earl’s Court sleeps up to 186 in two, three, four, six, seven and 10-bedded rooms. Shared accommodation is provided in single-sex dormitories. There is also a small courtyard garden.
London Earl’s Court is part of the Youth Hostels Association. Non-members pay a slightly higher rate. Why choose YHA? According to Caroline Thompson “We offer guaranteed standards, unlike some independent hostels.”
The hostel’s year long closure provided an opportunity to introduce many “green” features. They replaced the old inefficient water pipe system and boilers, and introduced water softeners and individual radiator controls.
They installed low energy fluorescent lamps throughout. All new electrical appliances are low energy rated. There are motion sensors and time switches in corridors, toilets and showers so lights are only used when needed. There is new improved roof insulation. Computers and other equipment are turned off while not used. Electricity is from renewable sources.
They use organic, locally sourced food where possible in the café-bar and try to use only eco-friendly cleaning products.
The hostel belongs to the local council’s green partnership initiative and is establishing links with the London Wetland Centre (“a hidden gem”). It encourages visitors to use public transport and also rents out bright yellow “Budgie Bikes”. There is an informative environmental education board in one of the lounges and a key member of staff focuses on these issues.
There are plans afoot for a big push on recycling with bins for guest and staff alike to sort waste and switch to recycled paper for stationary, kitchen towels and toilet rolls. Out in the garden there will be a compost recycling system, plus rainwater collection and a new organic vegetable plot.
According to Caroline Thompson, who was manager at the time of the fire and who helped oversee the refurbishment, “it’s all part of who the YHA we are and what we do.”
ecofriendlytourist.com visited YHA London Earl’s Court in May 2007