In praise of hostelling

“For reasons of money (none) and nostalgia (heaps) we booked into a youth hostel in the Highlands for New Year.

Yeah, I can totally picture your face right now, but hear me out. It was fantastic. You don’t have to be a youth to hostel and they are perfect for tight budgets.

Don’t get me wrong. I love a plush hotel as much as the next bod. Chocolates on the pillow, mini packets of shortbread, emergency shoe-shine (seriously, have you ever used that stuff?). I love the decadence.

But hotels can be a self-contained experience; perfect for romantic breaks and chill-out escapes, but otherwise sterile. Sure, you can natter to staff, but you can’t escape from the feeling that they are being paid to chat back.

There’s something wonderfully unpredictable about staying in a hostel. You never know whom you might meet and what you might get roped into. Staying alone in a hotel can feel like the epitome of loneliness, but rock up to a hostel on your own and you’ll have a new troupe of chums before the first round of washing-up is done.

There’s a feeling of camaraderie and informality engendered by sharing your living space for a night or two.

Youth hostels came into being in Britain in the 1930s when large swathes of the countryside were regarded as a playground for the rich. The ethos of hostelling was to give ordinary working people access to the great outdoors.

They provided clean, budget beds at some of the country’s most scenic spots. However, their future is not guaranteed. The Scottish Youth Hostelling Association has announced plans to close three hostels in the Borders because of low visitor numbers and financial difficulties.

This is our communal wake-up call to this wonderfully egalitarian and sociable accommodation.”



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