Mike, it is cheaper to join the SYHA for a start. You'll also note that an incredible number of YHAs (and B&Bs) are closed in the Winter months, and this year even more will be closing for good. However there are some gems that stay open all year and aren't too expensive either, such as Brecon. YHA website was always a bit vague about when hostels are actually open during the winter (they really need to start a Wiki), I just checked out Llwyn y Celyn and apart from not mentioning opening times it doesn't have on-line booking either.
It is a shame about availability, as falling in love with the Brecon Beacons was the reason I rejoined the YHA after nearly 20 years - but then I found a pile of them closed out of season, so I got myself a nice new tent and tend to stay here instead.
Camping would be the ideal, low cost, high privacy solution. However I have yet to devise an argument to convince mrs m of that .
Done a bit of web searching and found a local (to me) group who hire a barn once a month somewhere nice, so I guess that'll be the best option for the cold and wet months.
So what's the gig with camping barns? Are they just a big space with bunk bits or can you get private rooms there as well?
They can be one big room or one we stayed in was one room with a half-partition into sub-rooms.
Some have mattresses on the floor and some are just hard floor. Some have outside loos and a proper stove; others have an inside loo and shower but no electricity or stove.
They're all quite unique.
...and if you like Wales then this private one is a little gem at Bala.
It's like a proper private hostel. There are separate male and female showers, too, but when we stayed we had a surfeit of men so both showers became unisex to keep queues down
I take it back about Llwyn y Celyn, if you click on the 'book now' link the booking service shows actual availability, which seems to decrease to weekends only during Winter.... which is better than nothing I suppose!
I still think a YHA Wiki would be handy for informal additional local information, rather than relying on a busy part time warden to try and input it via a webmaster. They really need to be much more flexible with their information.
You can use Tesco clubcard points to join SYHA and also book rooms. We went to Islay this year £50 a night for a 4 bed room all paid for via Tesco. I think the deals so good we're off to Arran next month.
Pity you can't use tesco vouchers down south but come up to Scotland for a bargain break
" when we stayed we had a surfeit of men so both showers became unisex to keep queues down".
I heard you were keeping an orderly queue, helping with talcum powder and taking the money, NPC!
I am a Life Member of YHA, but if I were thinking about joining now, I wouldn't.....
....for all the reasons stated above.
Pity you can't use tesco vouchers down south
Oh yes you can! You can use them for YHA.
Maybe you live in Scotland so Tescoids only send you "relevant" info?
LotC - [slap]
Things are more like the old days in Scotland. Membership is only £8 a year and free for students. Its worth it for all the discounts you get especially if you don't already have a BMC card etc.
The other thing about hosteling is that you get a kitchen to cook your own meals which saves a lot over having to go out to eat. You also get to meet lots of like minded people which is less likely in a B&B.
The minimum wage has meant prices have had to go up at YHA/SYHA hostels. This in turn brings up the prices of independents.
At best hosteling can be a fantastic experience that is a highlight of the holiday. At worst it can be noisy and impersonal.
I second what herbert says about discount, for example 10% at millets & blacks, and a big 15% at cotswold, many others, but not all outdoor shops, just ask.
with the scottish system you can you can pay for 1 nights membership for £1, (as well as the nights fee) to try it out, or if you are going to use them less than 8 times in a year. You still get a card so can flash it for discounts, well worth trying one out.
Try out the glencoe one on a sat night, just a 20 min walk to the Clacgaig Inn, with great live music, crack, & beer. no twin rooms though unless you pay more for a bigger room to yourselfs (i think you can do that)
I am on he same line as others. We used to be members, but found it increasingly difficult to find hostels where and when we wanted them off peak, thus resigned ( formal letter). No reply.
Worth knowing that the English YHA allow non members with a +£3 premium per night. Take into account that membership is now £15? it hardly seems worth joinging if you are only doing the odd night.
Great pity that things have changed, but financial survival is what drives things, coupled with the youth not being prepared to accept the "old" facilities.
There were / are some great hostels with excellent location / facilities and food
I'm with Herbert on this one - SYHA is like YHA before the accountants hacked it to bits, in particular they seem to cherish their remote YHs.
For a couple of weeks in 1990 I was volunteer warden at Monmouth YHA. Passing by there the other day I was keen to check out the old place. After decades of use on a peppercorn rent, the YHA hadn't input anything to the upkeep of the old school house and eventually, keenly in need of the space back, the Church ended the lease. YHAs response was to try and take the church to court and dirty them in the press "Church closes doors to youths". Now Monmouth has one of those odd arrangements where the hosteller stays at a hotel for....about the price of a hotel room. Meanwhile the Church secured lottery funding for old school which is now used for the community - it is lovingly and splendidly renovated. I think it is a story that identifies some of the poor aspects of the YHA organisation.
"+£3 premium per night"
Not even sure that applies still, judging by the bookings I've seen this year so far, although the YHA website seems to stil have it as policy.
The YHA have lost there way. I have sent numerious letters / emails to the national office all have in my view been treated with contempt they dont really get it when they are told that a B&B is a cheaper option these days, If you decide to stay at a hostel and take breakfast and the evening meals you can be knocking on the door of £30.00.
Last year I stayed at Buttermere YH and I was queuing up for Breakfast and the guy serving asked me if I had had the first course where I said what is the difference ? he said if you have had the first course you can only have five items instead of six so the difference between a course is a spoonful of beans ! ! how pathetic is that.
I have been a life member now for nearly 30 years and had over 300 bed nights so I think I can speak with some experiance and in my opinion staying at a Youth Hostel in England is a last resort as B&Bs offer far better value than hostels.
The YHA should put Hostels back into regions because in those days everything was more managable and better.
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