Winter Breaks in the Highlands : Staycations in Scottish Hostels and Bunkhouses

Winter in the Highlands of Scotland is a truly spectacular time to visit. Whether it’s just a short break or a longer staycation this is the perfect time to see the landscape’s natural splendour. Enjoy the crisp frosty mornings, the atmospheric mountain mists and the dark skies. Return from your day’s adventures to a cosy hostel and a roaring fire. Book your great value Winter 2020 break in a private hostel room. Or you might prefer exclusive use of one of the cosy bunkhouses below.

Winter Breaks in Shropshire and the Peak District : Staycations in Central England

The hostels and camping barns of Shropshire, the Peak District and central England are ideal for Winter breaks and staycations. Surrounded by stunning landscape, there are rugged moorlands and pretty dales to explore. Enjoy crisp frosty mornings and magical winter sunshine and return to your cosy hostel and a roaring fire.




Winter Breaks in Yorkshire : Staycations in Hostels, Bunkhouses and Camping Barns

Enjoy Winter at its very best on a staycation or short break in Yorkshire in 2020.  Wrap up warm and explore the rugged landscapes around the 3 Peaks, the wilderness of the north York moors or the picturesque valleys of the Yorkshire Dales. Return tired and rosy cheeked to your cosy hostel and spend the evenings relaxing in front of a roaring fire.



Winter Breaks in the East of England : Staycations in Norfolk, Suffolk and Lincolnshire

The East of England is well known for dry weather, so what better place to go for a Winter  break or staycation? Visit the North Norfolk coast for exhilarating beach walks or to see the seals or book a rural staycation in the Lincolnshire Wolds, Bedfordshire or Suffolk. For great value accommodation you need look no further than an independent hostel.

Helping in the time of Corona Virus

Since March, when Covid-19 brought the country to a virtual standstill, there have so many instances of independent hostels doing their bit to help others.  Examples of housing the homeless, making scrubs, delivering shopping, returning to nursing and supplying free lunches to kids in half term should make us all proud to be part of the independent hostel network.

Furloughed staff at the head office of the Independent Hostel network, have been working with volunteers in their village to produce scrubs for local care homes and hospices

Bed linen donated by the people of Matock Bath  has been repurposed as cheery scrub tops and scrub bags for local care workers.  Organised by the head office of the Independent Hostels network from designs adapted by talented neighbour.  These stylish scrub tops are sewn by volunteers in the village including staff on furlough from Independent Hostels UK.   The scrub tops and scrub bags are now in use at a local hospice and care home.

17 scrub tops made for Masson House Care Home

New Hostels

From rustic country hostels to chic city-centre boutiques, here are some of the best newly opened hostels around the UK.  Some are set to start welcoming guests this year, so check the opening dates before you get too excited.

Travelling on a budget or exploring the wilder areas of the UK’s National Parks, hostels and bunkhouses are popular ways of seeing the UK on a budget.

Hostels and bunkhouses on the Coast : Accommodation by the Sea

Accommodation on the Coast

In the UK there are over 150 hostels and bunkhouses by the sea.  All around our beautiful coastline, from the wild seas of the Cornish coast to the white sands of the Hebrides you will find a whole variety of  bunkhouses and hostels to choose from.  Offering self catering accommodation  with friendly communal kitchens, dining and sitting areas, hostels and  bunkhouses provide the some of the most cost effective places to stay on the coast.

All the bunkhouses and hostels featured in the map above are within walking distance of the coast.  Perfect for quiet early morning walks along the beach before breakfast or for a leisurely stroll in the evening to see the sun set over the sea. What’s more for those with young children you can’t beat having a beach on the doorstep, without the hassle of loading everybody and everything into the car!   Coastal bunkhouses and hostels also often have easy access to the coastal paths and provide great bases or stop-overs if you are doing a walking holiday.


Hostels and bunkhouses by the sea provide great accommodation for inexpensive family seaside holidays
Hostels and bunkhouses by the sea provide great accommodation for inexpensive family seaside holidays

Each bunkhouse and hostel by the sea is unique.  They come in all shapes and sizes, from just 4 or 6 beds to  over 100. Some are in modern purpose built buildings, whereas  others have been converted from former schools, barns, fisherman’s cottages or country houses.  You will even find quirky hostels.  Stay in an old  windmill (run by the National Trust) on the Norfolk Coast to name but one of the many unusual hostels and bunkhouses you will find by the sea.

Some hostels and bunkhouses by the seas offer extra accommodation in yurts or  bell tents, while others allow camping in their grounds.  Why not take time to explore the map above?  Take your cursor around the coast of Britain and see for yourself all the wonderful places you can stay.

Remember hostel and bunkhouse accommodation can  be booked for as short a period as one night. So it is perfect for stop-overs to break your journey or for a touring holiday.  But many guests prefer to stay for longer to make the most of the idyllic locations so many of these hostels and bunkhouses are in.

Hostel and bunkhouse accommodation often includes small private rooms, which are perfect families or couples.  While large family gatherings and groups of friends often book the whole hostel or bunkhouse out on a ‘sole use’ basis.  So they can enjoy having the whole building and all its facilities to themselves.


Stunning Rhossilli Bay, on The Gower Peninsular, is withing walking distance of 3 seaside hostels/bunkhouses
Stunning Rhossilli Bay, on The Gower Peninsular, is withing walking distance of 3 seaside hostels/bunkhouses

The South Wales and Pembrokeshire coast features over 20 seaside hostels and bunkhouses.  For example the Gower Peninsula, home to Rhossili Bay, is within walking distance of  three bunkhouses by the sea while the Pembrokeshire / Ceredigion Coast boasts eight hostels/bunkhouses by the sea.

Hostels or bunkhouses by the sea, low cost accommodation of family holidays
Hostels or bunkhouses by the sea, low cost accommodation of family holidays

You are never far from the sea in Cornwall and Devon and there are 14 coastal hostels in the west country.  You can stay in the centre of the captivating town of St Ives, with its choice of beaches and many original and artisan shops. Or visit the Eden Project, dubbed the Eighth Wonder of the World by some, and stay at Edens Yard just down the road in St. Austell.   Famous for its surfing, the north Coast has some great hostels in traditional seaside holiday towns like Bude, Ilfracombe and Minehead.

If you are looking for a holiday by the sea with a difference why not  visit one of our many islands? You will find  wonderful hostels on Anglesey  and on Jersey and the Isle of Man and the Isles of Scilly.

There are several bunkhouses by the sea to choose from in Norfolk and Suffolk.  Deepdale Farm has a range of hostel, bunkhouse and glamping accommodation and the Brancaster Cente, run by National Trust, is great for groups holidaying by the sea.

Brancaster Activity Centre, Bunkhouse by the sea
Brancaster Activity Centre in Norfolk, Bunkhouse by the sea

There are independent Hostels and Bunkhouses on the Northumberland Coast, where you can combine bucket and spade days on the beach with visits to the many castles. For the Harry Potter fans among us Alnwick Castle is top of the list of places to visit when staying on this dramatic coastline.

Hostels and bunkhouses by the sea in Northumberland
Hostels and bunkhouses by the sea in Northumberland

If you fancy really getting away from it all, you can take a weekend or week long escape to a seaside bunkhouse or hostel on one of the enchanting Scottish Islands.  There are a surprising number of  hostels and bunkhouses on remote and accessible islands from  Mull and Arran,  the Hebrides to the Orkneys and Shetlands.

Colonsay backpackers lodge, a hostel by the sea

The Isle of Colonsay where you can stay at Colonsay Backpackers Lodge by the sea

Click on the location pins on the map above to  find out more about the accommodation and get in touch directly with them. To find out availability at several hostels and bunkhouses you can contact them using our Enquiry Service.

Please remember that our hostel and bunkhouse accommodation on the coast does get booked up quickly, especially in the school holidays.  So don’t be disappointed, start your search now and book your hostel or bunkhouse before it’s too late.


Host a Blogger

Readers like to hear about people’s holiday experiences and Google loves new text and photos.

To provide this extra content IHUK has a team of travel writers and photographers who blog for us as part of their holidays.   These articles are featured our homepage and on the accommodations feature,  promoted on our social media and indexed by google.

The blog is not a review, it is story about someone’s holiday and the things they did in the area. Google notices the names of local attractions, landmarks and activities in the blog and each blog is linked to the hostel or bunkhouse where the blogger stayed.

You can also ask one of your guests to write a blog about their holiday and send it to us.  All we need is around 600 words of text and some cheerful photos.

Become a Travel Writer

Get in touch using our contact form if you are interested in joining our team of travel writers.

Let us know the name or area of the accommodation you’re interested in and your preferred dates for the visit. Give us as much notice as possible as it can take a while to set up.

We will approach the hostel(s) concerned and ask if they are interested in your blog. If dates can be agreed we put you in touch with the hostel and wait with excitement for your bog to arrive by email.

Bloggers need to provide around 600 words of text and between 5 and 15 photos. These should be sent to us within two weeks of your visit.

Our experienced bloggers get more approvals then first time bloggers, but keep trying, as once you have your first blog online more hostels will agree to host you.

Dog Friendly Accommodation: Dogs in Bunkhouses and Hostels

Dog friendly accommodation in hostels and bunkhouses:

All our dog friendly accommodation is shown on the map above. There are over a hundred dog friendly hostels and bunkhouses in the Independent Hostels network, all welcoming dogs by arrangement.  Our dog friendly accommodation is scattered across the UK from Sussex to the Scottish Highlands, you will even find places to stay with your dog  on some of the Scottish Islands. These dog friendly hostels and bunkhouses  are often in ideal locations for holidays with your dog. There is a wide choice of hostels and bunkhouses in awe-inspiring locations in the National Parks of Britain. Many are dotted along the UK’s stunning coastlines, ideal for coastal walks and most are in rural locations. From your dog friendly accommodation you can explore seaside towns, wild moorlands, historic battlefields and ancient hills. You can walk through woodlands, along picturesque rivers, through hidden villages and across our green and pleasant land.

Bunkhouses and hostels provide great value self catering accommodation.  They are well suited to groups of friends or families and, because they provide accommodation for as short a period as one night, they are ideal for a stop-over to break a long journey. Buy why stay for just one night?  You, your friends and family and your dog will be welcome for as long as you like.

dog friendly deepdale backpackers
Deepdale Groups Hostel in North Norfolk has dog friendly accommodation.

Around a quarter of the accommodation in the Independent Hostels network, that’s over 100 hostels and bunkhouses allow dogs by arrangement. These are all displayed on the map above. On the individual hostel pages look out for the brown dog friendly symbol shown below. This same symbol is used in the printed Independent Hostel Guide. You can send an enquiry to a number of dog friendly hostels using our Send Enquiry service. Look for the ‘Dogs by arrangement’ tick box.

dog friendly symbol
Dog Friendly Symbol

Once you have established that the hostel or bunkhouse you wish to stay in welcomes dogs be sure to pre-arrange your visit with the hostel manager.  Some hostels and bunkhouses have a limited number of dog friendly rooms and the managers will need to check availability.  Other bunkhouses have a policy of only one dog staying at a time, to prevent doggy conflicts. Some of the hostels are on farms where livestock and farm dogs are around, so always keep your canine friends on a lead unless you have been informed otherwise.

A beautiful walk from Knoydart Dog Friendly Bunkhouse, Inverness-shire
A beautiful walk from Knoydart Dog Friendly Bunkhouse, Inverness-shire

Here are some examples of  Dog Friendly Accommodation from the Independent Hostel Guide

Here are some stories from just a few of the hostels and bunkhouses providing dog friendly accommodation in our network. DEEPDALE BACKPACKERS in North Norfolk has dog friendly rooms in the hostel as well as a dog friendly Tipi . Their website also has a guide to the area which tells you about dog friendly pubs, cafés and beaches as well as ideas for walks.

dog friendly accommodation at denton house
Denton House in Keswick welcomes dogs.

Pentre Bach Bunkhouse in Snowdonia is eight minutes’ walk from a local pub which welcomes dogs  in the bar. There is a sheepdog trainer next door and you can often see him training his collies. The accommodation is dog friendly and the 250 yard track to the barn has grassy areas all the way down, ideal for constitutional walks.

Marthrown of Mabie Bunkhouse say “We welcome well-behaved dogs with responsible owners (or vice versa!!)” which always raises a smile! If you think you can behave its well worth the trip to Dumfries!  At Marthrown of Mabie you,  your canine and human  friends can sleep totally surrounded by the Mabie Forest, without a whisper of the noise of modern life.

Gilfach Wen Barn welcomes dogs and is adjacent to the Brechfa Forest and not far from the Brecon Beacons.  The forest is designated as a dog friendly tourism destination by Carmarthenshire County Council because of the wide range of tracks and trails which walkers have the right to roam on through the forest.   What could be better for your lovely long dog walks?

Corris Hostel Dog Friendly
Corris Hostel in Snowdonia welcomes Dogs

New Ing Lodge is on the Coast to Coast path and most of their canine visitors have walked a long way  before reaching them (probably at least twice as far as their owners!).  That’s why there is a dog  bed available, so they too can have a comfortable rest for their tired paws. New Ing Lodge  also has large grounds at the back of the building for the dogs to stretch their legs as well as a walled garden in front of the house, where the owners can let their dogs run off lead.

As you can see there is really no reason at all why you should leave your dog at home or in kennels when holidaying in Independent Hostels. Independent hostels offer great value  self catering accommodation.  They are even better value when you don’t have the extra cost of kenneling on top of your other expenses.   With more than a quarter of the hostels in our network (that’s over 100) offering dog friendly accommodation there is certain to be the right holiday destination for you, your friends, your family and your dog.  So whatever you fancy doing, wherever you fancy going, you’ll find an independent hostel offering dog friendly accommodation.





En suite rooms : Bunkhouses and Hostels with en suite rooms

Many hostels and bunkhouses have private rooms with en suite facilities.

Hostel en suite rooms have all variations of beds.  Some have a double bed or twins, there will be family rooms with a mixture of bed and bunks and others with a number of bunks, ideal for large families or groups.

You can book a private en suite bedroom and have the benefit of a self catering kitchen and other shared areas around the hostel. Enjoy the social atmosphere of the kitchen, lounge and garden and retire to your en suite room for a refreshing night’s sleep.

St Oswald’s Way: Hostel and Bunkhouse Accommodation

St Oswald’s Way is a 97 mile long distance walking route. Opened in 2006 it stretches from the Holy Island of Lindisfarne in the north down to Heavenfield on Hadrian’s Wall in the south.  The route will take you through some of the finest scenery Northumberland has to offer.  St Oswald’s Way is a walk of variety and history with plenty to keep you interested. From Lindisfarne you follow the coastline as far south as Warkworh passing iconic castles, rugged coastline, spectacular beaches and islands on the way.

St Oswald's Way. Hostel & Bunkhouse Accommodation
Lindisfarne at the start of St Oswald’s Way

The route then takes you inland along Coquet valley to Rothbuy and on to the finish at Heavenfield. On this stretch of the walk you will pass hills and moorland, picturesque villages, forest and rolling farmland.  St Oswald’s Way links three historic sites associated with the early 7th century Northumbrian King and Saint whose name it takes. The Holy Island of Lindisfarne where he founded a monastery that became the ‘cradle of Christianity in England’, Bamburgh which was his royal capital and Heavenfield where he camped before his victory at the battle that made him King.

St Oswald's Way, Hostel and bunkhouse accommodation
Bamburgh, St Oswald’s royal capital

The route is well served with independent hostels and bunkhouses offering great value accommodation.  With walkers in mind, one night stop overs are easily booked and packed lunches can often be provided (with a little notice). You can either self cater in the communal kitchens or your hosts will recommend local cafés or pubs for your meals.

Seahouses Hostel on St Oswald's Way, Northumberland
Seahouses Hostel. Providing overnight accommodation for walkers on St Oswald’s Way.

Far less touristy than the honeypot destinations, Northumberland and St Oswald’s Way have so much to offer.  Stunning scenery, dark skies and a well signed new route which takes you from the iconic coastline through sheltered river valleys up to the atmospheric high moorland. All this without crowds of fellow walkers.

St Oswald's Way. Hostel and bunkhouse accommodation
The stunning deserted landscape crossed by St Oswald’s Way as it heads inland.

Much more vital information is available from St Oswald’s Way official guidebook , St Oswald’s Way official website and the Long Distance Walkers website.




Sandstone Way: Hostels and Bunkhouses

The Sandstone Way, opened in 2015, is a 120 mile mountain biking route running the length of Northumberland between Hexham in the south and Berwick upon Tweed in the north. The route takes riders across an ever-changing landscape, rich in history, geology and iconic scenery. In the north it runs along a sandstone ridge linking numerous sandstone crags and outcrops, hence the name, The Sandstone Way.

Sandstone Way. Hostel & Bunkhouse Accommodation

Both Hexham and Berwick upon Tweed have railway stations. Between these two towns, the route passes through numerous villages and small communities including Wooler, Rothbury and Bellingham. It has been designed with safe river, main road and railway crossings.

Sandstone Way, accommodation at Demesne Farm, Bellingham
Demesne Farm Bunkhouse on The Sandstone Way at Bellingham

The Sandstone Way was designed by Ted Liddle specifically for mountain bikers and as much of the route as possible is off-road. It will appeal to riders of all abilities and most will take 3 or 4 days to complete it. The ‘fit and the fast’ could possibly ride the route in 2 days but in all probability most would wish they had taken 3 days. The route is clearly way marked with a distinctive green logo roundel.

Sandstone Way, accommodation at Wooler Youth Hostel
Wooler Youth Hostel, also on  the route, where providing accommodation to cyclists is part of the culture.

On and near to the route are many independent hostels and bunkhouses offering great value accommodation. Those on or just off the route are perfect for your overnight stopovers. Whereas those nearer to the coast or to tourist towns such as Alnwick, of Hatty Potter fame, are great if some of the family are riding the route and the others want to visit local attractions or spend a day on the beach.

More information about this exciting route can be found on the Long Distance Walkers website and the Sandstone Way website.  Maps can be purchased from Northern Heritage Services


Luxury Bunkhouses & Luxury Camping Barns: across England, Scotland and Wales

Luxury Bunkhouses and Luxury Camping Barns

Of course all the hostels and bunkhouses in the Independent Hostel Guide are lovely places to stay but some do go the extra mile to add a bit of luxury to your group holiday.  These luxury bunkhouses and luxury camping barns offer great value accommodation with added comfort.

Luxury Bunkhouses still have shared bedrooms, mostly with bunkbeds but they all have high quality mattresses, and will provide bed linen and in some cases even towels.

Many of our luxury bunkhouses and luxury camping barns have been purpose built meaning the architect and owners have been able to design in everything a group needs.

Many Luxury camping barns have en suite facilities but even where washing facilities are shared these are usually modern bathrooms with good quality hot showers and a few extras to make your stay that little bit special.

It is the communal areas where most luxury bunkhouses and luxury camping barns put in the extra comfort.  They have well decorated, modern and well equipped kitchens, large dining areas and sumptuous  soft furnishings in the sitting room.

Allendale bunkhouse has a lovely cosy sitting/dining area whilst Nidderdale Bunkhouse has a huge sitting room with TV, games or just a space to lounge around and read a book in!

Most luxury bunkhouses and luxury camping barns have entertainment such as TV systems and wifi and some even have well stocked games rooms.

Some of these luxury bunk barns have hot tubs! Imagine bubbling away with a nice glass of wine looking at the view over the fells from Howgills Barn outdoor hot-tub after a fantastic day’s walking in the Yorkshire Dales or soothing the stress away in The Sail Loft Bunkhouse’s wood powered hot tub on the Moray coast?!

So even if you are looking for group accommodation with an extra touch of luxury we have something for you in the Independent Hostel Guide!