This week’s “Fantastic 5 Shots” photo contest will take us to London! The Dictionary, Shoreditch will be providing free accommodation to the lucky winner of the “Party Holiday” photo contest; we’ve had a chat with Eliska Finlay, one of The Dictionary’s owners, about their East London brand new hostel, her lovely staff, some hostel stories and the Dictionary’s future projects
Where did you get the idea to open a hostel from?
I have worked and travelled in hostels for the past 10 years. I love hostels and wanted to create my own version of what I felt would be a great hostel. I wanted to work with people who love travellers and hostels not just money and making it, so that’s why I decided to open my own hostel with my husband, Peter and friend Meredith.
Why did you call it “The Dictionary”?
Everyone arrives from all over the world, dictionaries in hand, to try to understand each other and make themselves be understood. This to me is a central meaning of hostels and travelling. We are searching for meaning in our own lives and definition of who we are. We have a lot of fun with words, from urban dictionary definitions, word of the week and books galore.
Our cafe and bar is called Translate and it is in this social space I feel that we can translate different cultural ideas to each other, where we can push our boundaries and redefine who we are and what we think because of the exposure we have to everyone from all corners of the world.
Who are your staff?
My staff are a mix of locals from East London and backpackers from within the backpacking community. They are always chosen for their personalities rather than their experience because I believe that people who love people make the best staff!
What do you guys like the most about running a hostel?
I love the freedom I have to make decisions. I can just say yes instantly when I’m asked if a street artist can put his mark on our building or if a guest wants to DJ in our bar. There’s no bureaucracy or a whole string of line managers I have to go through to get something approved.
What do you think shouldn’t miss in a hostel?
Atmosphere is so important and people make that atmosphere. The reason backpackers want to spend time in hostels is because of the warmth and personality in hostels. So good staff are crucial. But of course a good hostel has to have as a minimum good beds and good showers. A kitchen I think is a must and good common spaces are a must.
Any funny “hostel story” so far? Anything funny/peculiar that happened since you opened?
Well, there was the time when we had a routine visit from our local police (a woman) one evening and the receptionist assumed she was the stripper for the stag party that was staying with us and sent her straight up to their room…………. What an uncomfortable conversation that turned out to be!
What’s in the future for the Dictionary?
The Dictionary, once finished, will be a 200 bed hostel with a communal kitchen, a bar, a laundrymat, a coffee shop and a restaurant. We already have solar panels on our roof and will have conservation bird boxes for the endangered swallows in the area, as well as a green roof. We support local artists by displaying their works for sale in our bar and we love our guests and showing them a rawer and more real London. For the near future, we want to focus on being the best we can possibly be.
What would you suggest to get at your bar (drink, cocktail, something to eat)
We have great local beers as well as locally baked sourdough bread which when toasted and jammed is simply delicious. But I think if I were to recommend one thing it would be our speciality coffee, also a local produce.
What would look in a party holiday? What should be the must thing of a party holiday?
People who love life will make the best kind of party holiday. On top of that, I actually think a good night’s rest is so important, so unless you have good, comfortable beds to spend a few hours in, you’ll be too tired to party. Then let’ s go of all responsibilities back home and just say yes to what comes your way
The Dictionary Hostel Shoreditch is a brand new East London hostel, located in the trendy area of Shoreditch, home to a major contemporary art scene, music, bars and clubs. The Dictionary Hostel Shoreditch is set in former veneer factory and boasts an industrial bar, en-suite bedrooms, brand new refurbished rooms and an eco-friendly approach to life. This London hostel location is also just perfect: The Dictionary Hostel Shoreditch is so conveniently close to Old Street and Liverpool Street Tube station!
Would you like to stay in this Hostel and have a Party Holiday in London? Enter our Fantastic Shot photo competition “Party Holidays” and win a 2-night stay for 2 people by sending your best travel picture for the “Party Holiday” category to email@example.com
More details about how to enter our photo competition are available here