Youth hostels offer a great way to enjoy a comfortable night’s sleep at more affordable prices than hotels or B&Bs. Often in stunning parts of the countryside, hostels have long provided a sanctuary for weary hikers or backpackers. Facilities can range in luxury but expect to find toilets, showers and cooking facilities.
Plan your next trip with our guide to the best rural and coastal youth hostels in Britain.
Best for historical interest
Ever fancied staying in a castle? Then look no further than St Briavels YHA, a youth hostel located in the turrets of an 800-year-old castle. Take part in a medieval banquet in the Great Hall, explore the unoccupied rooms on a castle tour, and practice archery in the grounds. Rooms get booked up very quickly in this unsurprisingly popular youth hostel, so book well ahead.
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A £500,000 renovation in 2012 has seen this Elizabethan manor become one of Britain’s smartest YHA youth hostels, despite being one of the oldest. Set amongst the rolling hills of the Shropshire countryside, this Grade I listed building retains all its original features with added modern comforts, such as Wi-Fi and self-catering kitchens.
Looking for a rustic stay? Head to Howmore – a converted, traditional thatched Hebridean cottage. While it is impossible to book this youth hostel – you just have to turn up and bag a bed and facilities are basic, the location more than makes up for it. Next to a 13th century ruined church and a burial ground for the Clan Ranald chiefs, the hostel is also close to deserted sandy beaches, wildflower meadows and a range of hills. Bliss!
This youth hostel is based in one of the wings of Ilam Hall, a seventeenth century Gothic manor house. Set in 84 acres of National Trust parkland, it is conveniently located for walks in the Derbyshire Dales or, for thrill seekers, Alton Towers.
A friary has been present on this site since 1240AD with additions built over the centuries to accommodate the growing religious order. No longer inhabited by monks, this spacious youth hostel is conveniently located close to the centre of the market town of Beverley. Other nearby attractions include Flamborough Head and a number of national cycle routes, as well as a plethora of museums and indoor activities for rainy days.
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This hostel lies in the centre of a city filled with history value and beautiful Georgian buildings. Local points of interest include the Roman baths, Bath Spa and the Abbey. This hostel has recently been refurbished, with the elegant interior matching the beauty of the exterior.
Best for beautiful views
The views don’t get much better than this! A tiny hostel perched on the cliffs above Perranporth’s sweeping sands, it manages to squeeze 24 people into 4 bedrooms. Situated on the South West Coast Path, this hostel is popular with walkers and surfers alike, and is well located for all north Cornwall has to offer.
Looking like something out of an Enid Blyton story, YHA Snowdon Bryn Gwynant sits by a lake at the foot of Mount Snowdon. Perfectly placed for a multitude of outdoor activities including walking, cycling and watersports, the hostel has fairly basic facilities, but the location is hard to beat.
Best for solitude
The only way to access this youth hostel is on foot – the nearest road is 2 ½ miles away. There are no electric sockets and very limited mobile phone coverage. However, there is a full time member of staff who will cook you delicious meals – perfect after a long day of hiking in the wilderness.
It doesn’t get much more remote than this. Glen Affric is an eco-hostel located 8 miles from the nearest road. A wind turbine and solar panels provide limited electricity but there is no Wi-Fi or phone signal and guests are asked to take all their rubbish away with them. Surrounded by 15 Munros, this former stalking bothy is ideal for those seeking a truly isolated experience.
How to find a youth hostel
Youth Hostel Association
The Youth Hostel Association (YHA) is a youth charity that offers accommodation, including hostels, cabins or campsites in England and Wales. Anyone can stay at a YHA and dorms, family rooms and double rooms are offered at many of its sites. Membership is offered which includes benefits such as a discount on stays. www.yha.org.uk
Scottish Independent Hostel
Scottish Independent Hostel is a great low-cost way to explore Scotland. Individual travellers, couples, families and groups of all ages will all be assured of a friendly welcome. Choose from 125 privately-run hostels located throughout Scotland from remote islands and small communities to bustling towns and cities. www.hostel-scotland.co.uk