My expectations have slipped a few notches when it comes to accommodation. When you travel as much as I do, sometimes you are faced with toilets that work half the time, either partially or rarely clean, bedsheets that don’t smell as dewy fresh as they could, or rude, annoying roommates where privacy is scarce. I even recall a distinct sewage odor invading my nostrils from the bathroom of a hotel in Agra, India a couple of years ago. Ah, sweet memories.

In other words, I’ve grown to accept accommodations for what they offer. A touch nicer than okay. Semi-comfortable. It will do. I admit to being weary, even cynical nowadays.

When HostelBookers and I partnered together for Girls Running With Bulls, it was my turn to be surprised. Even humble for a change.

Palmer’s Lodge Swiss Cottage is a historic manor that has been renovated into a modern day boutique hostel. It took a while for me to wrap my head around that concept.

I tend to be a purist and prefer a historic manor to remain one, not be altered, but be trapped in time. I was very wrong.

Spectacular exterior

Cozy and comfortable drawing room

Communal feel to the dining area

Croissants to fill a hungry belly

Loved this hallway!

Charming antiques

Every manor requires a fireplace

Exterior architectural detail

I’ve stayed in some breathtaking places, and as part of my job had to photograph them all, but I was greedy photographing this one.

I love antiques, get visibly excited over the stories that such objects hold. And perhaps I had a whiff of Jane Austen floating in muslim and lace down the hallways, divining her novels and characters in the drawing room. Musing upon love and life in front of a roaring fire on a chilly November night. The musty, ancient smell of such places is powerful to me. Seductive. Certainly, it wasn’t Bath, where Austen is from, but soaking in this environment sent my imagination wild.

I’ll admit something to you, I really don’t fancy London much. It’s grey and dreary and indifferent. The thought of going back to Palmers’s every night for my short stay cast London in a glorious light.

It’s rare that mere accommodations do that for me. So, Palmers, you won me over. Jane and I couldn’t have been happier.

What every fierce woman scribe needs – a chandelier!

Reception desk: staff were friendly and explained things well. There’s an ATM near the staircase in case you need to top up on pounds, which was convenient.You get your own key card to enter your room. Reception is open 24 hours.

Rates: Dorms (whether mixed or gender specific) run from $33 to $43 per night (a range of 12 to 28 bed dorms). Standard 3 to 9 bed dorms are from $49 to $61 a night. And deluxe rooms or dorms range from $79 to $82 per night. A standard dorm in London is estimated at $35 to $45 per night, so their rates are comparable. All currency listed here is in Canadian dollars.

Restaurant and bar (in basement): The restaurant serves a free continental breakfast from 7 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. everyday, which is budget minded. After that, the restaurant opens for lunch and dinner. I ate a decent pasta salad one night for £ 7. There’s also a bar if you desire a pint, but I didn’t have a chance to visit it.

Dorms: I stayed in a multi-bed dorm, but because of the layout it felt like less people. My bed was a bunk style, but made of solid wood and had thick, heavy curtains I could pull across to gain privacy.

Internet: If you have an Apple laptop, remember to reset your network settings in order to use the free wifi. Their Internet is accessed through a username and password screen. I had trouble one day, but it finally got fixed. Once it was repaired, the Internet speed was fine. There are also computers in the main drawing room if you don’t have your own computer.

Location: I found it easy to find from London Heathrow. Take Piccadilly line to Green Park stop (Victoria line), then change to Jubilee line and get off at the Swiss Cottage stop. Walk out of Exit 2 and turn left at the fruit stand and walk up College Crescent until you get to number 40.

Palmers website:



HostelBookers generously provided my stay in London, but all opinions are my own.