Traditionally much hostel accommodation was in dormitories, however, increasingly more have private rooms that can be hired. Over the last few years a transformation has occurred in much of the hostel world. Accommodation at places such as YHA hostels has become more akin to B&B standards with hostels starting to take on the budget hotels sector. This article looks at what to expect when staying at a hostel and how to start tracking down these great bargain stays.

What to expect when staying

Around two thirds of YHA hostels have family rooms. These typically have 4 - 6 beds. Of these about one third of them have ensuite facilities. Rooms of this size are ideal for families and small groups on a budget.  The types of rooms available vary between hostels, so you need to do your research. Below I list various websites that can help with this.

It's not just the cheap rooms that are one of the attractions of hostels. Many hostels are in great locations either near big attractions or in beautiful locations. The buildings are often grand converted houses with lovely gardens. Most hostels will have self-catering facilities and lounges. So you can keep costs down even further by catering for yourselves and relaxing in the social areas afterwards. If you don't fancy self-catering, many hostels have self-service restaurants. With prices like £10 for 3 course meals and breakfasts around £4 it provides a good budget alternative.

Prices typically range from £12 per night for a bed in a dormitory to £30 for a private room. If you are in a big group you could even look to hire the whole hostel. Note that bedding is usually provided, but not towels.

Remember though a hostel isn't like a large anonymous hotel. It's more like a community with a fun and friendly atmosphere. The people you meet will range from independent travelers to families and small groups.

Examples of hostels to wet your appetite are:

YHA Hartington Hall, Hartington, Derbyshire
The hostel is set in a beautiful 17th-century manor on the edge of the pretty village of Hartington in the Peak District. It is very popular with families, particularly as it features games rooms, extensive gardens, an adventure playground and a menagerie (goats, rabbits, hens, guinea pigs). It is situated with a great range of local activities nearby. 

YHA Golant, Cornwall, England
The hostel is set in an estate with 14 acres of woodland. The hostel overlooks the beautiful Fowey Estuary with plenty of Cornish coastline to explore nearby. Popular attractions such as The Lost Gardens of Heligan and the Eden Project are both close by. The hostel is popular with families as it features games rooms and a restaurant,

Sleepzone, The Burren, Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
The hostel is in the spa town of Lisdoonvarna, Co. Clare. Nearby attractions include the Cliffs of Moher, the Aran Islands and The Burren region. It has rooms with 4 and 5 beds that are ideal for families or small group. The hostel has a licensed bar as well as the standard features of self-catering kitchen, lounge and beautiful gardens.

Blacksmiths Backpackers Lodge, Fort William, Scotland
The hostel is only four miles from Ben Nevis. Its location opens up many opportunities for activities such as rock climbing, kayaking, canoeing and even skiing in winter. The hostel is small offering accommodation for only up to 14 people in rooms of 4 or 6.

Information Sources

There are a lot of websites out there maintained for the enthusiastic hostel community. Some recommended sites for starting out investigating hostels are:

YHA You can do lots on this site. It covers YHA hostels, bunkhouses and camping barns. Additional features include highlights of specific YHA accommodation to provide inspiration for those not sure where to go.
Hostel Bookers A UK based site that details and allows you to book hostel accommodation internationally. Contains good reviews and ratings of hostels from prior visitors.
Independent hostel guide Covers hostels bunk houses, camping barns in the UK and Europe. It puts you in direct contact with the owners. Large selection of over 27,000 hostels across the world.

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