The Independent Hostel Guide was started in 1993 when Sam Dalley, cyclist and traveler, decided to turn her list of Independent Hostels into a book. Fifteen of the twenty hostels on the list agreed to fund the booklet and the Independent Hostel and Field Centre Guide glided off the photocopier. Distribution of the publication was hard work but lots of new bunkhouses and hostels got in touch and asked to join the guide. The following year Cordee Books and Maps agreed to distribute the Independent Hostel Guide through their bookshops and the professional guidebook was born.
In 1995 Irish hostels were invited to join and in 2000 Continental Europe hostels were incorporated. By this stage the guidebook had a coverage of 280 hostels, bunkhouses, camping barns and group accommodation centres in Europe.
The Independent Hostel Guide website was introduced in 2003 and featured all the details that were found in the guidebook. Despite this sales of the guidebook, now printed on recycled paper, continued to grow.
In 2007 a grant from the UK government funded the creation of Independent Hostels UK (IHUK). IHUK became the UK’s network of independently managed bunkhouses, hostels, camping barns and group accommodation. The Bunkhouses and Hostels in the Independent Hostel Guide became members of IHUK and the Independent Hostel Guide become IHUKs handbook.
After IHUK was formed less Irish and Continental Europe hostels featured in the Independent Hostel Guide and in 2009 the guidebook changed to feature exclusively UK hostels.
In 2010 Independent Hostels UK began a four year partnership with Berghaus. The annual Independent Hostel Guide cover photoshoots were launched with Berghaus funding and these photoshoots continue to project fresh new images into IHUK’s marketing each year.
In 2012 IHUK and the Independent Hostel Guide embraced social networking, including the production of videos about the hostels for the IHG YouTube channel. This continues and IHUK also provides a social networking support service for hostels and bunkhouses.
In 2013 Independent Hostels UK held their first conference, to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the first Independent Hostel Guide. Held at Hatters Hostel Liverpool and attended by 70 delegates the conference was a huge success enjoyed by all.
In 2014 IHUK gained the GOLD award from the Green Tourism business scheme.
Independent Hostels UK’s continues to be the UK’s network of independently managed bunkhouses, hostels, camping barns and group accommodation in England, Scotland & Wales. With over 350 member hostels the network is comparable in size to the Youth Hostel Association in the UK (YHA plus SYHA). The network aims to promote all accommodation providers equally from small rural setups to the large city hostels. IHUK offers a broad marketing package that targets the UK’s outdoor market and independent travelers.
If you operate independent hostel or bunkhouse style accommodation and would like to join IHUK you can find out more here.