> Finding affordable housing in London is considered an almost impossible task – but nestled in the capital’s trendy Notting Hill is a gem of a place offering accommodation for just over £100 a week.

Not only that but Bowden Court Hostel also includes two meals a day in the price!

It’s no surprise then that students, interns and young professionals flock to the site to start their adventure living in one of the world’s most popular cities.
Bowden Court is owned by LHA London, which owns 13 hostels across the capital. The company was formerly named London Hostels Association and was originally set up to offer shelter to people made homeless by the Blitz.

Long-terms residents pay £110 per week for dorm rooms up to £269 for a large single premium room, and there’s a 25% discount for those aged 18-29 when staying long- term in selected shared rooms. As well as affordability, an on-site gym, study room and laundry room, plus close proximity to the London School of Economics and the Royal College of Nursing make the hostel an ideal venue for students.

Getting the food offer on point and on budget is the responsibility of head chef Matteo D’Angelo. “We feed between 200 and 250 residents per day, offering a continental breakfast and three-course evening meal seven days a week. We are working on a tight budget so I have to be really creative with my menu planning.

“Over the last two years I’ve completely overhauled the menu and am now using a lot of Country Range ingredients to bring more quality and consistency.” The hostel has 20 volunteers who work 24 hours a week in return for free accommodation. Matteo, now aged 29 and originally from Sardinia, himself started off as a volunteer three years ago before securing his current paid role in 2017. Each week starts with Matteo batch cooking a basic Italian tomato sauce using 25-30kg of Country Range Chopped Tomatoes cooked down with celery, carrots, onions, garlic, olive oil and basil. This sauce is then adapted throughout the week for various dishes.  “I started to ask residents what they wanted to eat so that I can create meals to make them happy,” he explains. “I also try to follow the seasons. I always offer a meat dish, a gluten-free dish, a vegetarian option and two sides.

“For breakfast, we offer boiled eggs, croissants and pains au chocolat, yogurts and jams. At the weekend we have a full English breakfast.”

Matteo’s favourite ingredient is Country Range Easy Cook Long Grain Rice. “It doesn’t go to ‘mush’ like other brands and holds the flavour of every sauce I make. I can also re-use any leftover rice the following day for rice salads, which I make using Country Range Real Mayonnaise, Sweetcorn, Pitted Black Oives, Sweet Paprika or Curry Powder.”

Christmas Time:

Around 90 residents will be spending Christmas 2019 at Bowden Court and Matteo is planning an array of special dishes for them to enjoy including vegetable polenta with butternut squash; chicken breast with toasted almonds and cream of amaretto; and roast lamb with demi glace and Country Range Juniper Berries. He adds: “It’s not going to be very busy because most people will spend Christmas with their families but, for those who don’t, we’ll make sure they have a wonderful time.”