Scotland's hostelling network springs back into action after Covid shutdowns

Are the country’s spectacular mountains, beaches, forests and islands calling you?

Are you craving a travel adventure, a post-lockdown escape that won’t break the bank?

Well throw a few jumpers into a backpack and get your hiking boots on.

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One of Scotland’s best-loved institutions is back in full swing after more than two years of disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

SYHA’s main objective when it formed in 1931 was to provide hostels where, for a small charge, walkers – especially young people – could obtain a night’s lodging and experience Scotland’s wildlife, heritage and culture. Its ethos remains the same, but facilities have been adapted to meet today's travellers’ expectations

Hostelling Scotland, the brand name of the Scottish Youth Hostels Association (SYHA), has announced its network of accommodation has reopened for visitors.

The charity, set up almost a century ago, runs a wide variety of its own and affiliate properties all over the country, offering comfortable accommodation for families and individual travellers on a budget.

Locations stretch from the Highlands to the Lowlands, the islands to the cities, with a range of facilities on offer – including multi-bed dorms and private rooms, shared public spaces and self-catering kitchens, and onsite cafes and bars in some cases.

Canine companions are even welcome at a number of the hostels.

Achmelvich Beach, in the far north of Scotland, is just one of the places popular with Scottish hostellers

Bookings are already flooding in for some of the most popular destinations, with some premises filling up fast.

There has been a rush for rooms on the NC500 route and the Isle of Skye this month, as well as the award-winning, remote and eco-friendly Loch Ossian Youth Hostel at Rannoch Moor.

Bosses are delighted with the surge of enthusiasm for getaways this spring and say the trend looks promising for the summer months.

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Margo Paterson, chief executive of Hostelling Scotland, said: “The last couple of years will long be remembered as the most difficult in our history.

Hostelling Scotland has a network of more than 50 premises in a wide range of locations -- including Cairngorm Lodge Youth Hostel

“As chief executive of this wonderful and much-loved organisation, I’m very proud of all the hard work and dedication shown by our teams and grateful for the kind support and generosity shown by everyone.

“We’re delighted that guests can once more enjoy the social aspects that sit at the heart of hostelling – cooking up a storm in our self-catering kitchens, enjoying a glass of wine or a local beer with friends and a good night’s sleep in a private en-suite room or a bed in a shared dorm.”

Hostelling Scotland has more than 8,000 lifetime members, with 29 of its own and 26 affiliate hostels in its network.

Prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, up to 380,000 guests were using the premises each year, bringing in an estimated £25 million to the Scottish economy.

SYHA’s main objective when it formed in 1931 was to provide hostels where, for a small charge, walkers – especially young people – could obtain a night’s lodging and experience Scotland’s landscapes, heritage, culture and wildlife.

Its ethos remains the same today, but accommodation has adapted to meet modern-day travellers’ expectations.

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Destinations such as the islands, Glen Nevis, Oban, Achmelvich and Torridon are once again proving a popular choice for young explorers, couples and families.

Demand is also rising in city youth hostels as group travel starts to return, while an increase in the number of dog-friendly WoofHostels and the option for exclusive private hire through RentaHostel offer alternative accommodation opportunities and extend the appeal of hostelling to a wider audience.

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