By: Blonde Two

If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of staying in one of our fabulous Youth Hostels, you have been missing out. With activity and enjoyment at the centre of their planning and set up, the YHA really know how to facilitate outdoor experiences for beginners and old-timers alike. Of course this year has been a tricky time for the YHA with many of their hostels experiencing at least some time of closure or numbers restriction. However it should not be forgotten that this has also been a year of celebration because in 2020 the Youth Hostel Association is celebrating its 90th anniversary.

YHA 90th Anniversary

A 90th birthday is always something to be celebrated. Especially when it is a much-loved member of the outdoor family like the YHA. Like many charities and outdoor providers they have had a rough year but they have still found plenty to be pleased about. It may well turn out to be true that the YHA is one of the important causes of our times. The first hostel in the UK was opened in North Wales in December 1930. A time of depression and difficulty that might perhaps reflect those we are currently facing and about to face. Like today its aim was to offer affordable access to the outdoors to people (particularly young people) who might not before have been able to access it.

Getting people outside

Many of us can trace our first outdoor experiences (and indeed those of our parents) back to Youth Hostel stays. There are certainly plenty of excellent stories out there, and I suspect a few that will never be told. You can find out much more about the history of the YHA on their website but for now, here are six things you may or may not already know about the Youth Hostel Association.

  1. Today’s Youth Hostel accommodation reflects the desires of a modern society. There are still reasonably priced single sex dormitories but you will also find family rooms, en-suite accommodation, camping possibilities and even a spot of YHA glamping. If you’re the family cook, you’ll be pleased to hear that, in usual times, most hostels offer catered as well as self-catering facilities.
  2. Last year the YHA welcomed over a million visitors. Even more importantly, nearly half these visitors were under the age of 26. If you know anything about outdoor activity demographics, you will know this is a major achievement.
  3. During the Second World War a third of the YHA’s hostels were requisitioned to provide much needed accommodation for the war effort and the newly homeless. A national contribution that has been echoed this year with the Covid-19 crisis.
  4. In the early days if you wanted to stay in a Youth Hostel, you had to arrive under your own steam. Many people walked or cycled but canoeing or pony riding also eventually became acceptable.
  5. In 1931 it cost a shilling to stay the night in a Youth Hostel. That’s around £2.50 in today’s money. It’s a bit more expensive today but still one of the cheapest (and easiest) accommodation options for families wanting to visit Britain’s beautiful outdoor places.
  6. The YHA is a charity that does an awful lot of good for an awful lot of people. Their mission is, ‘To enrich the lives of all, especially young people, by providing brilliant hostel stays and experiences that improve physical health, mental wellbeing and life skills.’ Something I’m sure we all agree is especially important this year. Find out more about how to support the YHA here.


Happy birthday YHA! And thank you!

If you are wondering whether or not you can fit a bit of YHA time into your 2021 travel or staycation plans, well done for supporting a fantastic charity. We recommend checking out their YHA Covid-19 information page. Throughout 2020 some hostels have been closed, others have offered limited or exclusive accommodation and still more have been temporarily repurposed to provide emergency accommodation for key workers. 2021 is a still a bit of a mystery to all of us but if overseas travel is still tricky, your first Youth Hostel experience could be just around the corner!