Letters from the dorm: You get what you pay (£9) for

Letters from the dorm: You get what you pay (£9) for

You might be surprised how far boarding students will go to save their small change. During our half-term break, my friend from Japan went for the officially cheapest hostel in London, called Clink 78, which agreed to a charge of £9 (HK$111) night. That's when he learnt the painful cost of being too thrifty.

Getting there was a pain. What seems to be visibly close to King's Cross railway station on the map took us more than half an hour on foot as we stumbled into roadblocks, put our faith in all the wrong pedestrians and road signs, and overcame the grungy side of London that tourists and foreign students would never choose to see. When the GPS finally led us to a shabby complex with filth-smeared windows and a dust-covered pavement, we refused to believe it was the "young, stylish, fun hostel" that the travel website gloriously claimed we would be sleeping in that night.

After enduring a bitter taste of reality, we were shown the concentration-camp-inspired dorm rooms. Four bunk beds, and nothing more, were placed side by side in a space of 100 sq ft. Just when I thought things couldn't get any worse, someone walked in who we later found out to be one of our roommates. Sporting a half-shaven hairstyle, spiky earrings and a cheesy head-to-toe punk-rocker costume, he thrust his guitar on the side. He offered us whisky, which we politely refused.

We continued our tour, picking up the odour, which led us to the toilets. The showers were up to par, but the condition of the rooms was quite hard to get over. My friend and I both agreed that £9 was a fair price to pay for such an eye-opening and mind-blogging experience.

We would never have experienced this otherwise - either in Hong Kong or in his hometown of Hiroshima.


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