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One of the YHA's most atmospheric hostels, in an ancient castle on the edge of the Forest of Dean.

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 YHA St Briavels is that you're always aware that you're staying in a castle, with characterful 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', as well as two spacious dormitories at the top of each of the two castle towers.

So in many ways, it's a boutique hostel experience, but in other ways it's one of the YHA's more basic hostels, since there are no en-suites, most of the beds are bunks, and shared washrooms can be a bit of a walk from the bedrooms. There is also no TV and wifi is only available in the public spaces, so you really do have to make your own entertainment – not hard in a building straight out of Camelot. To that end, the chapel has been turned into a family lounge, with dressing-up, toys and books, while the main banqueting hall is an amazing dining space that hosts medieval banquets and communal supper clubs.

The Wye Valley is a just a few miles distant, plus there are excellent kids attractions within easy driving distance, from the homespun Puzzlewood theme park to the old mine workings of Clearwell Caves, and a branch of the high-wire adventure outfit, Go Ape.


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