I’ve stayed in a lot of different types of accommodation over the years… hotels, apartments, BnBs, cottages, chalets and campsites. However, the option I’ve never really even considered is a hostel.
My perception of hostels is that they are packed with people, dirty, unsafe and noisy. I imagined grim dorm rooms with people squashed in like sardines and limited shower and toilet facilities. Being kept awake by a snoring roommate didn’t really appeal to me, so I’ve always opted to pay a bit extra for a little more luxury and privacy. I also believed that hostels are aimed at younger travellers… I’m 35 so consider myself older than the typical demographic.
When I was invited to the Peak District as a guest of YHA (Youth Hostel Association), I was keen to experience the outdoors in a stunning part of the country, but a little apprehensive about the accommodation.
Having spent a night at YHA Castleton Losehill Hall, I can say that my preconceptions were completely wrong. I was pleasantly surprised to arrive at a building which resembled a grand stately home.
YHA Castleton Losehill Hall is a fully refurbished gothic mansion set in 27 acres of parkland- I could imagine it being used as a luxurious wedding venue rather than a hostel. The building is steeped in history and many of the original features remain, including grand staircase, parquet flooring and stained-glass windows.
It has 146 beds in 36 rooms, most of which have ensuite facilities. There’s also a large lounge, licensed bar and cafe, plus two spacious dining rooms for breakfast and lunch. My fears about sharing a crowded dorm with lots of strangers were put to rest, as stayed with two lovely girls- Sarah and Abbi.
As well as the main building, there’s also the 28 bed Castleton Mews which is available for hire by groups on an exclusive basis. I can’t help thinking this would make an amazing base for a triathlon training camp!
One of the best things about the YHA Castleton Losehill Hall is it’s location in the heart of Peak District National Park. It’s perfectly positioned for exploring the rolling hills, dales, castles and caves of the Hope Valley.
The area is a real haven for active travel, particularly walking, running, cycling and climbing- see my next blog posts for some route ideas. The accommodation is really set up for active travellers- there’s a drying room for wet kit, route maps on the walls and a water bottle filling station.
The main advantage of staying in a hostel is the social element. There’s a relaxed, informal atmosphere at hostels with communal lounges and activities to bring people together.
YHA have recently introduced a Supper Club– a communal meal that encourages guests to share travel tips and experiences with others. For just £9.95 you get a two-course meal, I had chicken and broccoli pie with potato and vegetables, then chocolate fudge cake for dessert- can’t beat that for value! After dinner we got cosy by the fire and played board games.
I’d definitely consider a hostel for future trips. YHA have over 150 properties across England and Wales, including some of my favourite outdoorsy destinations like Snowdonia and the Lake District.
Have you ever stayed in a hostel?
I stayed at YHA Castleton Losehill Hall as a guest of YHA, but all opinions are my own.