YHA hostels have made a bit of a comeback in recent years: they've always been great value for money, but these days they're being appreciated for all sorts of other reasons too – stunning locations by the sea and in the countryside, prime spots in city centres, and some really impressive buildings (think castles, converted schools and country houses). They're not just a place for the young, but couples, families and groups too.
On top of all that, there's been substantial investment in the network since 2011, with more than £37 million ploughed in. New hostels have been brought to life and others have been given a facelift – read on for 12 of the best new and revamped YHA hostels (and watch out for YHA London Stratford, coming in the future).
Open less than a year, this fabulous 86-bed hostel has a lot going for it – not only is it set in the beautiful countryside of the Northumberland National Park, it's also in the heart of Hadrian's Wall UNESCO World Heritage Site. Plus, it has heaps of facilities – meals on request, 24-hour reception, bike hire, en-suite rooms.... And let's not forget the area's famously dark skies.
If you fancy hosteling in a grand 17th-century country house, Hartington Hall is the place for you. Wood-panelled rooms, stone floors, open fires – this recently refurbed 124-bed Derbyshire hostel is not your run-of-the-mill budget accommodation. Explore the Peak District in style, with Hartington as your base.
The rambling 57-year-old house had a facelift in 2017, with new bedrooms, jazzed up interiors and the addition of three luxury glamping pods. It's in an enviable spot in the New Forest National Park, with activities galore right on your doorstep – saddle up and go pony trekking, canoe on nearby Beaulieu River, or head out on two wheels and join the 100 miles of local cycle routes.
Just a stone's throw from the beach, Cornwall's Treyarnon Bay hostel has a great location going for it, and since its 2017 upgrade it has even more to boast about – new en-suite rooms, a revamped bar and sparkly new furniture. Choose a dorm room, wild camp, or glamp in a bell tent – you're certainly not short on options. What's more, the hostel works closely with nearby Harlyn Surf School – book a watersports package and hit the waves.
Picture holidaying close to a Blue Flag beach in a rural farmhouse retreat on the outskirts of the UK's smallest city – if that tickles your fancy, head to Wales' YHA St Davids. Nestled on the lower slopes of Carn Llidi, about a mile from Whitesands Bay, the recently spruced up hostel has a brand spanking new kitchen, ideal for self-catering families, and a cosy lounge with a wood-burner. Swim, surf, climb the south face of St David's Head or walk the Pembrokeshire Coast Path – the choice is yours.
Fancy hiring a hostel with a bunch of mates and having the place all to yourself? That's exactly what you can do at YHA Swanage, a spacious and elegant Victorian house hostel just a short walk from the town centre. With 15 bedrooms sleeping 44, it's an ideal base from which to explore the stunning Jurassic Coast. The best bit? The hostel re-opens in March following a revamp, with new en-suite bedrooms and an accessible room for those with mobility problems.
Here you have an eco-friendly hostel nestled in Surrey's National Trust woodland – a converted 17th-century cottage, with two safari tents for those after some glamping action. The characterful hostel might only by accessible on foot or by bike, but that adds to its charm. Donations from kind supporters helped fund a refurb in 2017 – you'll find a newly decorated lounge and rejigged kitchen. Sitting on the North Downs Way, the hostel is a haven for walkers and cyclists – but for the wine lovers among you, you're only a couple of miles from Denbies Wine Estate.
Hostelling doesn't get much better than in Perranporth, where the YHA is perched on a cliffside with views over Cornwall's Perranporth beach. A no-brainer for surfers, it will also appeal to all you wild campers (but be warned, the solitary pitch is in a very exposed cliff-top location, 180ft above the Atlantic) and to anyone who loves a room with a view. The small family-friendly hostel is closed until May 2018 when it will re-open with a swish new kitchen, refreshed bedrooms, and a floor-to-ceiling window in the lounge – just imagine the views!
Budget-friendly places to stay aren't always easy to find in a city centre, but thankfully Liverpool has a great value-for-money 156-bed YHA, situated just a 5-minute walk from the historic Albert Dock. Recently given a makeover, the hostel now features a bigger bar area and updated decor, making it a really comfortable base for the city.
It's all about the location with YHA Tintagel, a seaside hostel overlooking the Atlantic surf of North Cornwall. This might be a traditional hostel, with bunks in every room, but it's also an extremely comfortable place to stay, particularly since its 2016 refurb. History lovers can walk the coastal path to the ruins of King Arthur's Tintagel Castle, while hikers can head to St Nectan’s Glen and its 60-foot waterfall. Or simply stay put indoors by the wood-burner and admire the spectacular views.
If you don't know where Boggle Hole is, it's a mile or so down the beach
from quaint Robin Hood's Bay in North Yorkshire. And if you don't know
what a 'boggle' is, you can find out at the hostel! A family-friendly
place fashioned from an old mill, and right on the beach, YHA Boggle
Hole has undergone a thorough and quirky transformation over the last
couple of years – think reclaimed timbers, upcycled flotsam and jetsam
from the coast, appealing rooms with sea views, with the whole shebang
centred on an open-all-day cafe-bar with a roaring wood-burner, locally
roast coffee and enticing ales. It's brilliant for families and
Cleveland way hikers.
In the city centre of Bath sits a striking Italianate mansion – it's hard to believe it's a 133-bed hostel! Even better, it's just had a major £2.5 million re-fit and now boasts a swish café, bar and lounge. Watch out for the new annex, due for completion in October 2018 – all rooms will have en-suite bathrooms. It's fab for both families and couples, and the sights of Bath are a short stroll away – museums galore, the famous thermal baths and Sally Lunn's, a world-famous eating house (home of the original Bath Bun).