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About Sam Dalley

MD and Founder

Sam started the Independent Hostel Guide started as a hobby in 1993. She is delighted to see how the network has grown and proud to provide a vital marketing and networking platform for small hostel style businesses.
crowd of hostel owners and mps at independent hostels parliamentary reception

On 23rd April 2024 Sarah Dines hosted a parliamentary reception on behalf of Independent Hostels UK. Here are copies of the speeches made at the event, the accompanying report containing up-to-the-minute data from the industry, and photos and videos of the event posted on social media.

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Parliamentary Reception, 23rd April 2024

An illuminating insight…

We couldn’t be more pleased with this article from Ethical Consumer. An in-depth view of the unique network of independent hostels and bunkhouses in the UK.

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The Future is Bright for Hostelling.

Hostelling is in better health than it’s ever been. There are more hostels now than at the height of the youth hostel movement, in the 1950’s . And while the YHA closes more hostels, the independent sector is blooming.

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A group of cyclists outside Ballater Hostel

Latest YHA hostel sales present a golden opportunity

In June 2023 the YHA announced that it is taking a step back from the management of a third of its properties in England and Wales.  20 of these youth hostels are now for sale, each one presenting a golden opportunity for those wanting to escape the rat race.

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the lounge at holmbury st mary youth hostel showing the banner painted

Why Book Direct ?

Many hostels and bunkhouses try to keep their prices lower on their websites than on Booking.com or Expedia, so you’re more likely to get a better deal when booking directly, which you can via the Independent Hostels website.

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New Ing Lodge where its best to book direct

Support Our Hostels

It has been a tough summer for all accommodation businesses, but the worse effected are hostels and bunkhouses. This unique style of accommodation needs support from the Government to get them though the winter. There is a motion in Parliament and we need your help now. Read on to find out how.

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support our hostels logo

Why you should Book Direct

We all go to booking sites for accommodation, however I add another step and I think you should too…   I use the booking sites to find suitable available accommodation, then I google the accommodations name, look past all the Ads and I place my booking direct. This has led to some startling results over the years. 

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why should i book direct

Save Outdoor Education Centres & Support Hostels

Outdoor education centres are closed and hostels are missing out on a significant client in schools.  These closures are due to the Government preventing schools from undertaking any overnight trips now and throughout the current academic year.

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coasteering Arete Centre

Adelina Patti, History Tours at Craig Y Nos Castle

Adelina Patti made Craig Y Nos Castle into her lavish home. Although nearly forgotten now, in her time Adelina was the worlds first celebrity. Latter the castle became a TB hospital. It is now an idyllic wedding venue and has a great value bunkhouse in the old nurses accommodation. A history tour of the castle is run every morning and if you are staying in the bunkhouse you can join the tour for free.

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Theatre built by Adelina Patti

Tip, the brave little collie, and her 15 week vigil, on bleak Howden Moor

Here is the story of Tip the dog, who stayed for 104 days with the frozen corpse of her master on the hills above the Derwent Dams. Joseph Tagg, the shepherd who got caught out on the moors, used to stay occasionally in a lean-to at the end of the old barn on Lockerbrook Farm. The barn was demolished in the 1970s, but last month one of Lockerbrook’s volunteers rescued a little stone drinking trough and returned it to Lockerbrook to mark the 65th anniversary of the discovery Tip alive and by her masters side. If you bring a group to stay at Lockerbrook Outdoor Centre you can visit Tips grave and sleep in a room named after the loyal collie.

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Lockerbrook Farm and the memorial to Tip the loyal collie on Howden Moor

The Lonely Tree of Llanfyllin

A story of a local landmark and the attempt to save it.  The Lonely Tree was an iconic part of the community and the fact it was horizontal was not stopping anyone!  It was entered into the competition to be Welsh Tree of the Year in the October after it blew over, and won! Then in 2015 it was entered into the European Tree of the year competition.  This is a story of community endeavour, tenacity and wishful thinking.   It only needs a Hollywood ending to finish the tale.  

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Llanfyllin lonely tree sign close to llanfyllin Workhouse Bunkhouse

Gower Peninsula, Beaches and Castles

The Gower Peninsula juts out of the south Wales coastline, westwards from Swansea. It was the very first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is well know for the many beaches along its coastline. I have also discovered a handful of glorious castles , much less well known, but brilliantly adapted for visitors. This combination of good facilities and emptiness make these castles feel like a personal discovery, set as they are in atmospheric rural locations.

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Rhossili Bunkhouse Gower Beaches

North Norfolk Coast in a self catering bunkhouse

The North Norfolk Coast belongs to the sky. It is filled with coastal wildlife, salt mashes and picaresque villages with ancient roots. There are stunning seascapes, seaside towns and not much evidence of the hurley burly of modern life. That is why Deepdale is such a useful find, unusual in rural North Norfolk, there is tourist information, shopping with great food available, camping and hostel accommodation all in the authentic relaxed village of Deepdale.

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Deepdale Granary

Wildlife at the Ross of Mull

Mull is a Hebridean island with few settlements and large areas of open wilderness populated by both rare and common wildlife.  During our few winter days on the island we spotted Otters playing in the bright waters of a sea loch, Whooper Swans, Deer, a Hen Harrier, and a Heron, not to mention the free roaming sheep and Hairy Coos.

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whooper swans wildlife on mull

Bretton Hostel and the Plague village of Eyam

In 1660 the village of Eyam was stuck by the plague and went into isolation. When the plague was at its height villagers buried their dead in the gardens of their cottages and four of these grave remain at Bretton Hostel, surrounded by the meadows and moors of the dark peak. Bretton Hostel and the plague village of Eyam are a ready made holiday, with a world of interest and education in the very fabric of the village, gorgeous countryside to explore and comfortable self-catering accommodation.

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Eyam the Plague Village

Woodys Top, Wayfarers, and the history of rambling in the Lincolnshire Wolds

I first heard of the Lincolnshire Wolds as a member of the YHA, hearing talk of the iconic Woodys Top Youth Hostel. It took another 20 year to get around to visiting this quiet and beautiful area, by which time Woodys Top hostel had closed. However I soon found, hidden amidst the beautiful countryside, other remnants from the historic era of rambling that founded the YHA.

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Walking in the Lincolnshire Wolds history

South Lincolnshire Walking Festival

Following the successful Lincolnshire Wolds Walking Festival this spring,  it’s now time to get your boots on for the return of the popular South Lincolnshire Walking Festival in October.

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Independent Hostels Stand at the Lincolnshire Wolds Walking Festival