One of the YHA's more basic but definitely atmospheric hostels on the edge of the Forest of Dean.
St Briavels Lydney Gloucestershire GL15 6RG 0845 371 9042
It's not every day you get to stay in a grade-one listed historic monument, let alone one that's over 800 years old and has its own ghost. Yet at St Briavels you not only get all that but at a budget price too, and a tremendous bucolic location on the edge of the Forest of Dean to boot. The nice thing about St Briavels is you're always aware that you're staying in a castle, with a choice of rooms that pay great respect to the building, from the mysterious 'Oubliette' room (ask about the contents of the dungeon below) to the State Apartment with its so-called "King's Seat', and two spacious dormitories at the top of each of the two castle towers. It's one of the YHA's more basic hostels: there are no en-suites, most of the beds are bunks and shared washrooms can be a bit of a walk from the bedrooms, but the atmosphere more than makes up for it. There is also no TV and wifi is only available in the chapel, so you really do have to make your own entertainment – not hard in a building straight out of Camelot – or get out into the stunning countryside nearby: the Wye Valley is a just a few miles distant, plus there are excellent kids attractions within easy driving distance, from the homespun Puzzlewood themepark to the old mine workings of Clearwell Caves, and a branch of the high-wire adventure outfit, Go Ape.
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- YHA hostels
Dorm beds from £19, private rooms from £79, family rooms from £66.
Coming from the north on the M5, follow the signs to Monmouth and from there follow the A466 to Chepstow. After approximately 5 miles turn left and follow the signs to St Briavels. The castle is straight in front of you. From the south on the M4, follow the A466 to Monmouth and around 7 miles after the metal bridge, turn right and follow the signs to St Briavels.
Open all year.