IHUK : The UK’s network of independent hostels and bunkhouses

Self catering bunkhouses & hostels
IHUK sign on all stretton bunkhouse

IHUK is the largest network of hostels and bunkhouses in the UK. With over 400 place to stay, IHUK is larger then the Youth Hostel Association and Scottish Youth Hostel Association added together.

The IHUK network allows you to peruse this unique type of independent accommodation in one place and book direct with the accommodation’s own booking system.

So you can choose where to stay by location and facilities and make a booking, secure in the knowledge that no booking fees are being charged to you or the accommodation owner.

Accommodation displaying IHUK signs
Click markers to view hostels and bunkhouses

View all hostels & bunkhouses

The IHUK Network

The IHUK network allows you to view independent hostels and bunkhouse accommodation in one place, so you can choose where to stay by location and facilities.  Once you have found your ideal hostel or bunkhouse this website passes you direct to the booking system of the hostel or bunkhouse ,allowing you to book direct with no fees charged to you or the accommodation owner.

ihuk at green man backpackers reception
Reception at Greenman Backpackers in Chepstow

IHUK is the largest network of hostels and bunkhouses in the UK.   With accommodation in over 400 locations, the IHUK network is larger then the Youth Hostel Association and Scottish Youth Hostel Association added together.

IHUK sign on Lodge Dinorwig


The History of Hostels and IHUK

Hostels – or, rather, youth hostels – were originally thought up by a German school teacher who saw the need for school children to have safe, affordable overnight accommodation, allowing them to travel and gain some experience of the world.  The first youth hostel – or Jugendherberge – was established in 1912 and the principle was quickly taken up in the UK.

Independent Youth Hostel  groups formed across the country and took up the challenged of providing  basic accommodation within reach of the UK’s industrial cites, for people who otherwise may not be able to experience travel and enjoy the countryside.   These were the first Independent youth hostels which soon came  together to form a youth hostel association.  Some of these first youth hostels are members of IHUK today.

IHUK sign on Thorney How Hostel
Thorney How, one of the first youth hostels in the UK

Just under a century after the first youth hostel was formed, the term Youth Hostel had become a brand, owned by one organisation.  Individuals and charities still wanted to provide hostel accommodation and in the late 1980’s the first bunkhouses and independent hostels were formed outside of the YHA.   The Independent Hostel Guide, the foundation of IHUK,  started to provide marketing for these independent hostels in 1993.

IHUK and YHA signs on skiddaw house
Skiddaw House, an independent hostel affiliated to the YHA

With the rise of  package holidays as people turned to Europe for their adventures,  the YHA stared to close down many of it rural unprofitable locations, selling properties, releasing leases and in some cases expelling independently run hostels from their brand.  Often these hostels were restarted or simple continued to provide accommodation as Independent Hostels and part of the IHUK network.

IHUK sign on Greenman Backpackers
Greenman Backpackers in Chepstow

The  hostels in IHUK  vary greatly: there are still those that belong to the Youth Hostels Association (around 5%), but also there are a growing number of  bunkhouses, backpackers, independent hostels and camping barns.   What the members of IHUK have in common is that they provide low-cost dormitory or private self catering accommodation in a sociable environment.

Many IHUK hostels are run by independent travellers for fellow travellers

Many of the people who to work in, manage or own an IHUK  hostels don’t do it for the money: they do it because they empathise with the people who stay here. They are independent travellers themselves, they understand the requirements of the independent traveller and they try to create an environment that they themselves would appreciate staying in. This is very much the case at Inveraray Hostel on the western shore of Loch Fyne,  they pride themselves in features such as extra long hand built bunk beds and cosy communal areas with wood burning stoves.

IHUK sign on Inveraray Hostel Scotland
Inveraray Hostel on the western shore of Loch Fyne

Everyone is made to feel welcome at IHUK Hostels

One of the many enjoyable aspects about travel is meeting people or to be more correct meeting new and different people. It’s a common misconception that hostels are only for those who can’t afford to stay anywhere else. How wrong that is, IHUK hostels provide additional facilities not available in hotels or B&B’s.  Hostels are for anyone & everyone, they provide self catering facilities, drying rooms and a friendly shared environment.

IHUK sign on Edens Yard Accommodation
A great place to chat at Edens Yard Hostel

Some people choose to stay in a hotel where they have nowhere to go but to their room, crammed in with unused furniture & a TV, while others prefer to stay at a hostel that has somewhere they can clean and dry their muddy boots, self-catering facilities in which they can cook their own meals & communal areas where they can meet other guests.  IHUK Hostels are for independent, self-sufficient travellers of all ages, races, backgrounds and financial status.

IHUK sign on Bunkorama in the snow
Bunkorama near Barmouth in West Wales

IHUK Hostels are found all over  the UK

From large  city centre hostels to small hostels in the remotest of locations  you can find IHUK hostels in most places in the UK.  Most reflect their surrounding and the interests of their owners and offer a whole host of activities from star gazing to caving, mountain biking to wildlife watching.

ihuk sign on Tomlinsons Bunkhouse
Tomlinsons Bunkhouse in Rothbury Northern England

Many are quirky; you can stay in a cell of a former London jail, on a railway carriage  on a small station serving a remote crofting community in the Highlands of Scotland, at a Victorian gothic Mansion in Dorset  run as an education centre for sustainable living, in the nurses block at a Welsh Victorian castle once home to a world famous opera singer and later turned into a TB sanatoriam, or on a dutch barge moored in Bristol’s historic harbour.

IHUK sign at Elterwater youth hostel
Elterwater Hostel in the Lake District