Hostels and the YHA

This section covers questions about the Youth Hostels Association and the hostels that we use. You can find out more from the YHA web site.

What is the YHA?

The Youth Hostels Association (YHA) was founded in the 1930s "to help all, especially young people of limited means, to a greater knowledge, love and care of the countryside, particularly by providing hostels or other simple accommodation for them in their travels, and thus to promote their health, rest and education".

The YHA operates hundreds of Youth Hostels across England and Wales (despite the name they're open to all ages), in both rural and urban locations. Joining the association allows you to stay in them as well as the 4,500 hostels operated by other hostelling associations world-wide.

You can find out more about the YHA at their web site. If you're interested in other countries' hostelling associations (including Scotland and Northern Ireland) check out our Links page.

What is a Youth Hostel?

Youth Hostels are places to eat, sleep and socialise. There are thousands of Youth Hostels all over the world. Some used to be Schools, some mansions and some are even more unusual. There are some buildings that have been especially built for the purpose recently and some are very old and have been adapted.

For example, Boscastle Harbour used to be a stable for horses that pulled boats ashore. Original beams and an open fire can be found there. Bridges is a converted Victorian school. Port Eynon is a former lifeboat station, a ramp leads from the hostel door straight into the sea. Black Sail used to be a shepherds hut. It is a stone hut tucked away at the base of a mountain. The list could go on and on, every hostel is unique.

Some hostels offer fairly basic facilities and others are almost like hotels. In Britain, hostel dormitories are still single sex but some hostels have small family rooms. This is great if you have children because it means you can all stay together.

Why should I join the YHA?

If you are a YHA member you can stay In many different styles of accommodation all over the world. Whilst non-members can now stay at youth hostels, they have to pay a £3 surcharge per night. At that rate, it won't take long to recoup your membership fee!

YHA also arrange discounts at a range of retailers and tourist attractions. A full list can be found on the YHA web site.

We do not require members of our group to join the YHA, but we do encourage everybody to do so.

How do I join the YHA?

You can become a YHA member at any hostel you stay at, just pay your fee at reception. Alternatively you can join at the Tourist Information Centre in the city or via the YHA web site.

Can you recommend a hostel in...?

We don't offer specific hostel advice on these pages (apart from noting Leicester's nearest hostel) as our requirements may be different from yours. Try looking in our newsletter for some inside information on hostels we've visited recently.

If you're looking for a hostel in a specific part of the country, you can find a full list of YHA hostels at their web site. Other hostelling associations and some independent sites can be found on our links page.