Many YHA properties have incredible access to some of the country’s best-hidden gems. Here’s a guide to some of our tucked-away hostels in spectacular settings that have private rooms available for you to book.
Idyllic is the way one former guest describes the location of YHA Beer. And what’s not to like about relaxing in a beautiful Arts and Crafts house with original features, a library and sea views from the garden? It’s the perfect base after a potter down to the beach for a swim in the sea or a trek along the South West Coast Path. Beer itself is a lovely fishing village which forms part of England’s first natural World Heritage site. It’s where the Jurassic Coast starts, where the Romans came to quarry stone, where fisherman have earned their living for centuries – and still do. Once a smuggler’s haven, wooden fishing boats are launched from Beer beach by skilled fishermen, mackerel fishing trips are available if you want to try and bring in your own catch. If fishing is not your thing then there are plenty of water sports to take part in such as paddle boarding and kayaking. With great local pubs to visit, beach cafés selling sandwiches of locally caught fresh crab and Devon scones aplenty, your tastebuds will be spoilt for choice. Although the hostel breakfasts are heartily recommended to set you up for a day of adventure. It really is a heavenly holiday spot.
Don’t miss: Trinity Hill Local Nature Reserve which benefits from minimal light pollution and a pretty, open panorama or Knapp Copse Local Nature Reserve, with its mix of woodland, meadow, stream and species-rich grassland, is a true wilderness. For something a little different, in nearby Axminster, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage HQ offers courses in beekeeping, foraging, cooking and much more.
Stay at YHA Beer
YHA London Lee Valley
Located just outside of the capital, our Scandinavian-style lodges at Lee Valley offer seclusion, safety and plenty of outdoor space all within a 20-minute train journey into the big city. It makes an ideal base for a family trip, delivering the best of both worlds, with the bright lights of London nearby but some peace, quiet and wonderful wildlife on the doorstep of the hostel. Positioned right next door to the 10,000-acre River Lee Country Park you can enjoy a stroll along the canal or amongst the park’s artworks. Lee Valley is also a traffic-free warren of cycle trails. Hire a bike from Broxbourne and cycle all the way to Greenwich, which is 21 miles. Along the route, you will pass various attractions – the largest collection of football fields in Europe at Hackney Marshes, Victoria Park – one of the oldest municipal parks in the world which was opened to the public in 1900 and you can also take in British merchant ship Cutty Sark, which launched its first voyage from London to Shanghai in 1870.
Don’t miss: Lee Valley White Water Centre which serves up white water rafting on an Olympic course or for the fainter of heart how about a gentle paddle on the lake. Little ones will love the animals at Lee Valley Park Farms. As well as farmyard friends, expect exotic examples such as bearded dragons, zebu and meerkats. Waltham Abbey is also a must-see.
Stay at YHA London Lee Valley
Now we’re just spoiling you with Grade II-listed Hemingford House. Stay in a magnificent Georgian manor house with acres of grounds just two miles away from the birthplace of Shakespeare at YHA Stratford-upon-Avon. It’s a spacious old building with comfortable social spaces to relax before taking a trip to the theatre – after all, there’s no better place to watch a Shakespeare play than his hometown. Whilst in town visit some of the well-preserved buildings whose walls tell the story of the Bard’s life and death. Anne Hathaway’s picturesque 500-year-old cottage where William romanced Anne, who later become Mrs Shakespeare, is worth an outing. The pretty abode has its original furniture and features, and who knows, the beautiful gardens could be the inspiration behind the quote, “Should I compare thee to a summer’s day…” When you’re all Shakespeared out then the banks of the Avon offer an excellent route for a walk and delightful spot for a picnic.
Don’t miss: Pop in for a pint at what is believed to be the oldest pub in the town, the timber framed building housing The Garrick Inn dates back to the 1400s. Hire cute rowing boats by the hour at Canal Basin, they’re each named after a different Shakespeare character. The best afternoon tea is at Hobsons Patisseries, just off Bridge Street and a top tip – look up above the shop fronts to see what the town might have looked like in Tudor times.
Stay at YHA Stratford-upon-Avon
With bucket loads of traditional seaside-town charm, YHA Sheringham is the spot for anyone who is looking for an escape to the Norfolk coast. Just a ten-minute stroll to the beach yet also walking distance to Sheringham Old Wood which is teeming with wildlife and trees that date back hundreds of years, including oak, beech and sweet chestnut. Plus, you’re also an easy walk into town, our YHA property really is in the centre of everything. Whilst staying with us you must get to the unspoilt picturesque beach at Holkham, which was the setting for film Shakespeare in Love. It has expansive white sands backed by sand dunes and pine woods, it is part of one of the largest National Nature Reserves in the country and is home to many rare species of flora and fauna. Visit in summer and you might see the Household Cavalry putting their horses through their paces. With so much to see and do in the area we also recommend the pretty harbour town of Wells-next-the-Sea, which was once one of the great ports of eastern England in Tudor times. Today the harbour is still used by sailing and crabbing boats and is sheltered by salt marshes from the open sea. Also, take a boat trip around Blakeney Point for a bit of seal spotting at England’s largest seal colony.
Don’t miss: All Saint’s parish church which is famous for its 15th-century bench ends including a mermaid, legend has it that the mermaid sought refuge in the church from a storm at sea. The historic village of Happisburgh where there are fossilised human footprints dating back 850,000 years, the oldest evidence of humans in Northern Europe, and the oldest footprints outside Africa.
Stay at YHA Sheringham
Overlooking England’s largest natural lake, YHA Windermere offers the chance to stay in an unspoiled countryside setting only two miles from both Windermere and Ambleside. With stunning panoramic views of the lake and mountain you’re sitting pretty here, shielded from the crowds and surrounded by wooded grounds, scenic walks and plenty to do. Beyond the hostel grounds, the area is wonderful for walkers and is a great choice for high- and low-level hikes; the moderate climb up Wansfell Pike, for example, rewards with incredible views. And as for other adventures, choose Windermere for watersports, Loughrigg Tarn for wild swimming and Troutbeck Valley for miles of cycle trails. For one of the best vistas, try Gummer’s How, Windermere. It’s a low fell (1,053ft) but the sunsets from here are magical, with glimpses of the sea to the south.
Don’t miss: Just a mile or so down the road from the hostel you can get on the Windermere ferry as a car, bike or foot passenger. This takes you to the western side of the lake and to Near Sawry where you can explore the house and grounds of Hill Top, Beatrix Potter’s beloved home.
Stay at YHA Windermere