The YHA have sold many hostels over the last twenty years and some of these have been rescued from closure by private individuals or local interest groups. There are now over 70 former YHA properties in the independent hostels network including many camping barns. Some independent hostels continue pay the YHA for marketing and have become private youth hostels. However the hostels are being marketed, it is the individuals who have rescued these buildings who must be praised. They have enabled these former youth hostels to continue to provide great value self catering accommodation to help all, especially those of limited means, to a greater knowledge, love and care of the countryside.
Past and present youth hostels
Private youth hostels affiliated to the YHA or SYHA
Many former YHA properties are now operating as private youth hostels in the Independent Hostels network. These are displayed on the map above and are listed below the map with a photo and short description. The independent hostel network works with over 70 former YHA properties. There are nearly fifty past and present youth hostels in the Independent Hostels network and over twenty former YHA camping barns which are shown on our camping barns page. Some of these hostels have affiliated to the YHA marketing scheme as private youth hostels and will show a YHA symbol on their full features (click show more to see their full feature).
With the YHA’s policy of closing down rural Youth Hostels, many communities have seen their local youth hostel close after many years. These homely establishments have quietly provided shelter for walkers, cyclists and tourists over the years. There presence has often brought income and new faces into isolated rural communities. For a few lucky places this is not the end of the story. These youth hostels have been bought by private individuals or re-leased by community groups and opened their doors once more as private hostels. Some hostel affiliating to the YHA marketing services as private youth hostels and others relying on there own resources and the Independent Hostels UK Network.
New privately owned former youth hostels are joining the IHUK network all the time, so check back to this page from time to time to see which closed youth hostels are being preserved as private hostels.
YHA Hostels that have received a new lease of life as private youth hostels
With the YHA’s policy of closing down their rural Youth Hostels, many communities have seen their local youth hostel close after many years of use. Most recently in February 2017 the YHA has ceased their support of all the former YHA Camping Barns. Here are details of some of the hostels and Bunkhouses sold by the YHA that have been part of the IHUK network in the years since 2010, with a brief history of how they got their new lease of life.
Blackboys Youth Hostel.
Blackboys Youth Hostel joined the independent hostel guide when it was sold by the YHA in 2008. Known as The Glade the hostels continued to provide traditional hostel accommodation until 2014. Now it is sadly completely closed.
Old School Hostel formally Trefin Youth Hostel.
This youth hostel belongs to a local church and had been leased by the YHA since 1968. The YHA performed a major refit in 1992 when the two large high ceiling school rooms were graced with an internal upstairs floor and the large dormitories were replaced with six bedrooms each with between 2 to 6 beds. This design is perfect for families and couples and also performs well for groups. The hostel is in the centre of a sleepy village just minutes’ walk from the cliff tops and the Pembrokshire Coast Path.
The YHA bought their way out of the lease in 2006 and the hostel was saved by Sue Whitmore and Chris Clements who have taken on the lease with the aim to provide comfortable, eco friendly accommodation. Sue and Chris made a lifestyle choice when they took on the hostel and they plant a tree for every booking they receive. Ideal of you’re looking for a coastal holiday with a conscience
The Court Hill Centre, Previously the YHA Ridgeway Centre.
This hostel has always been owned by the local community as a private youth hostel and was built and developed with advice from the Youth Hostel Association. It has a fantastic location close to the Ridgeway national trail in rural Oxfordshire. The private youth hostel was once a flag-ship hostel for the YHA and was run under their franchise scheme for over 10 years. The centre made the break with the YHA in July 2007 because they felt the YHA was moving away from their core customers and restricting the private youth hostels own enterprise. Since becoming independent the centre has been able move in exciting new directions by adding tearooms, a function room, a venue for local film society and Tipis for overnight camping. Ideal for somewhere to stay where there is plenty to do and close links to the local community.
Tyn Cornel Youth Hostel and Dolgoch Youth Hostel, also known as Ty’n Cornel Bunkhouse and Dolgoch Bunkhouse. These two YHA simple hostels in the Elenydd Valleys had a loyal supporter base of Youth Hostellers when the YHA put them up for sale in 2007. Upset at the loss of these remote simple hostels the supporters set up their own trust “ELENYDD WILDERNESS HOSTELS TRUST” with the aim of buying the hostels. In January 2007 they began operating Ty’n Cornel as a private youth hostel under a lease, and in autumn 2007 they bought Dolgoch. A third hostel in Blaencaron was sold before the trust was able to get their funds together and is now a private house. For the following 7 years Dolgoch and Tyn Cornel hostels remained affiliated to the YHA as private youth hostels and renovations took place to improve comfort at the hostels whilst maintaining the character and eco credentials of the buildings. During this period the YHA renamed them as bunkhouses and in 2017 they excluded both these private youth hostels from their marketing scheme. Despite many appeals and national publicity these two hostels were forced to rely on their own marketing and the Independent Hostels Network for all their publicity. The good news is, that in Oct 2017 Tyn cornel Hostel topped their over night stays for the calendar year compared to 2016, with 3 months still to run. So it looks like they are going to do well without the YHA.
KIRKBY STEPHEN HOSTEL – previously Kirkby Stephen Youth Hostel. This old Methodist church has been a youth hostel for over 20 years. It is on the route of four Long Distance Walkers’ paths including the Coast to Coast. It is ideal for walkers, cyclists and those who want to tour the Dales and the Lakes. Sold in 2006 it immediately started its new life as an independent hostel. The current owner is committed to providing a warm welcome and comfortable low cost accommodation for outdoor enthusiasts.
LAWRENNY MILLENNIUM HOSTEL- previously Lawrenny Youth Hostel. This old school was converted to a private youth hostel by a local community trust with the aid of a grant from the Millennium fund. It is situated on a quite river valley in Pembrokshire and is a great location for visiting romantic castles. It ran as a private youth hostel for a few years, but left the YHA in 2005 and remains an Independent Hostel. It is still run by the local community trust who also maintain a small village shop.
Skiddaw Youth Hostel. Skiddaw House is the highest hostel in England. Situated high on a Lakeland moor the hostel has no electricity or mobile phone coverage and is accessible only by footpath. Owned by a farming family in Cumbria it was leased by the YHA for many years. When the YHA gave up the lease it was taken on by Martin and Marie with the backing of the “Skiddaw House Foundation” and its trustees. This private youth hostels is affiliated the the YHA and is also part of the Independent Hostel network.
FOREST VIEW WALKERS HOSTEL- previously Byrness Youth Hostel. This private youth hostel has undergone a major Green refurbishment since Colin and Joyce bought it from the YHA . It is now an Eco-Hostel affiliated to the YHA and Joyce will bend the ears of fellow eco-warriors if you ask to see the boiler & solar panels. It is situated right on the Pennine Way and is used by walkers and cyclists. UPDATE: 2015. The original hostel building is now a guesthouse and pub, still run by Colin and Joyce, who have also opened a bunkhouse SPRUCE COTTAGE BUNKHOUSE in a nearby house which continues to provide youth hostel style accommodation.
HELMSDALE HOSTEL- Helmsdale Youth Hostel. This hostel was sold by the SYHA (Scottish Youth Hostel Association) and is now run by Irene Drummond as an independent hostel affiliated to the SYHA as a private youth hostel. Set in a small village between Inverness and John O’Groats it provides ideal accommodation for families and outdoor enthusiasts.