Wednesday, 6 February 2013

What is Hostelling in Scotland?

Lets take a look at the hostel sector in Scotland - do you really know what it offers?

There is a diverse variety of rooms from dormitories with bunks to family rooms with ensuites.  There is a wide variety of buildings from lighthouses and railway sleepers to Georgian Town Houses.  There are different styles of hostel accommodation from backpackers and bothies to bunkhouses and of course, well, hostels.  Sometimes hostels are part of activity centres or university campuses - no wonder people get confused! So what sets hostels apart from other types of low cost accommodation?  Certain factors are the same across all hostels.
There are always shared self catering facilities in hostels which allow people to do their own catering and keep the costs of a holiday within a budget.  This is why some people prefer a hostel, to say, a bed and breakfast.  Many hostels offer meals too at very good rates.

Shared living areas allow people to meet with other travellers and like-minded people, fostering camaraderie. This is ideal for single travellers who might otherwise feel isolated and groups such as families where social interaction is improtant.  It also allows for the sharing of tips and advice.

Many hostels now offer a choice of accommodation to suit individual requirements and budget.  People can choose to share cheaply in bunkrooms (which often have their own ensuite) or pay a little extra and book a double or family room.  So people can now have privacy while still benefitting from the convenience of shared facilities.

Hostels can be booked for one night, or many nights, starting any date of the week, assuming availability.  This is much more flexible and less costly than booking a self catering cottage.

Many hostels can offer accommodation for large groups for from one night - something that is generally not available elsewhere.  Hostels tend to be an excellent choice for exclusive use stag and hen parties, but increasingly people are booking for family get togethers and celebrations, even weddings.

Hostels are run or managed by people who are passionate and knowledgeable about their area who willingly pass on helpful advice which is a real boon if you are exploring an area for the first time.  Each hostel has its own unique character, often reflecting the charm of the local area.

Many hostels are situated in outstandingly scenic areas which are great for outdoor pursuits, usually offering facilities for storing outdoor gear as well as having fabulous views.  Many hostellers are passionate about the environment and wildlife and can provide lots of local knowledge.

City hostels provide a safe and friendly environment close the city centres.

All SIH hostels are Quality Assured by Visit Scotland to ensure a certain quality of accommodation.

Finally - don't get confused between SYHA which is a charity managing 60 Hostels and SIH which is an association of 130 independently-owned Hostels. 

One of our members Haggis Hostels got a great review from a hostel-hating travel writer

Mike Sowdens new take on hostelling is:

My New Rules Of Hostelling

1. Hostels are places that put you into closer proximity with strangers than you’d experience in a hotel. There are two ways to look at this. If you’re English, try looking at it the other way.
2. There are varieties of hostels that aren’t just focused on getting the maximum number of heads hitting pillows every night. They’re not just fixated on traffic. They care about quality of experience. Yes, really.
3. Hostels can be places you go if you want to feel part of the human race. They don’t give you a keycard that seals you off in your own little castle. They encourage you to hang out, either to enjoy the buzz in a coffee-shop kind of way, or to swap stories with other people.
4. The bathrooms can actually be really really nice.
5. Summary: The theory of hostelling, which has been tarnished by a little of the reality of hostelling, is a beautiful thing. It encourages people to connect in welcoming, relaxing surroundings, without hermetically sealing them off from one another except for breakfast the next day, which is often too late to make a significant connection. But there are hostels that are doing things right. Places you return to, again and again, feeling like Norm in Cheers. It’s worth hunting for them.

1 comment:

  1. Hostelling is now fashionable and trendy
    'The emerging trend in the hospitality sector.'
    Affordable and Fun....In this day and age why spend £15.00 in a hotel for a sandwich or £25.00 for lunch when you can stay and travel from Hostel to Hostel. Providing for yourself, your friends and/or your family. You choose..! And without breaking the bank...........
    Make use of some of the fantastic facilities that Scottish Independant Hostels have to offer!!!!
    Go On You know you want to.............