Friday, 7 August 2015

YHA - Youth Hostel Association family review!

This summer holidays with the building work taking place in the garden, and Daddy M having to study for his twice yearly exam in peace, has meant that I have had to take the girls out of the house. Thankfully the Youth Hostel Association (YHA) asked us if we would like to review a hostel of our choice. I have stayed in hostels as a child with schools and remember having ten giggling girls to a room. This had me wondering how family friendly it would be, and so I though we would put it to the test, and if all else fails at least Daddy had some time to study whilst we had a girly break.

We chose YHA Idwal near Bangor in North Wales.

J insisted she wanted a place where she could walk in the hills. This was a perfect location for this purpose in the Snowdonia National Park. There was so many locations it was hard to choose just one location. Check out the view from just a 1 minute walk down the lane outside the hostel. We were well and truly in the heart of hill walks.
A photo posted by Stacey McCall (@mummymsmemories) on

Check in with youth hostels is 5pm, so it is slightly later then most hotels. This meant we could enjoy a day out before hand without worrying about checking in to the hostel. Our host Saskia was very welcoming and had us checked in very quickly.
Our room was a private 4-bed room we also opted for en-suite with the girls still needing loo breaks in the middle of the night it meant I could relax a little more and have a few home comforts. This does cost extra compared to a room with no en-suite. The room was large with two bunk beds in, and a very big window to see the stunning views.

The beds come ready made which saves a lot of hassle on arrival.  The beds do have a warning saying the top of the beds are unsuitable for children under 7. However J insisted she wanted a top bunk, and I felt safe knowing that the barrier was high enough to keep her secure. The ladders were also thick which made them more comfortable to climb up and down.
Each bed had its own night light and a little shelf for glasses or a book. The beds were also surprisingly comfortable and the duvets were warm and plump. I felt like I could sleep like a log in them. Unfortunately S had other ideas! (too much excitement!)
The room also included two chairs, and two cupboards with room for a padlock to secure items if you needed too. However the front door also locks so in this scenario we would not need to padlock our stuff away. The shower room was separate to the bathroom and again larger then I was expecting.
Now, what I like about hostels is the social aspect of it. Strangers actually started up conversations and they were not trying to sell me anything. Lounges were communal, dinning rooms and kitchens too. This meant there were plenty of chances to start up conversations, and children meet and play with others.
As there was a self catering kitchen we brought our own quick dinner to prepare. Unsure of what they had I kept it simple. Pasta and a stir in sauce. Other families had soup, or home made bolognaise/chilli cooked at home and heated through. Another family cooked completely from scratch. There was plenty of space on the 6 hobs, a microwave and several ovens. If you were staying longer then a night there is also a tray for you to keep your food, along with a fridge. The YHA also supplied complimentary cup of coffee/tea which was great as I forgot to pack mine.
Whilst I was cooking, the girls played in the dinning room. There was plenty of tables and chairs for people to sit. Games were stacked up on the side and were free to play. A pool table was also provided for the older children/adults.
Typical dinner time meant the girls needed the toilet when the food was served up. I felt comfortable leaving J to eat her dinner whilst I took S, however S I did not trust to leave alone, (after all she is my whirlwind!) The host Saskia was very kind and offered to watch S whilst I took J and when I returned they were fully engrossed in a conversation.
The weather was printed out the night before for the following day and left in reception so you could plan your route. If you were unsure the host would recommend a suitable walk.
I hadn't even thought about using YHA for a family break before. This little get away with the girls has changed my perception. Its not fancy, its not WOW! unless you count the stunning scenery and getting back the art of conversation away from TV's and electronics. However it does put you in the heart of where you want to be, it gives you warmth (unless your camping outside which makes it even cheaper) a comfortable bed and means you have a kitchen to provide your meals which would be ideal if you have allergies, its also very sociable. I have also since found out you can use Tesco clubcard points towards your YHA stay too.  This really help makes it very budget friendly.
One gentleman I spoke to has brought his children to youth hostels for the past 8 years as it gives them freedom to run around outside if they wish, play games with new found friends or sit quietly with a book. I will certainly be looking in to staying with them again.
Have you ever stayed in a Youth Hostel before?
*We were given a complimentary 1 night stay in return for an honest review. All words, photos and opinions are my own.


  1. I once stayed in a youth hostel near Bangor on a Year 6 school trip, I wish I could remember the name now! I was in a room with three reeeeally chatty girls and we got bus cleaning duty for staying up too late making noise hahaha.

  2. What gorgeous scenery! It sounds like you had a lovely stay xx

  3. I've never stayed in a youth hostel, I didn't realize you could get private bedrooms, will have to start looking at these the next time we decide to go away.

  4. We love Youth Hostels and have stayed in them for years! I haven't been to this one though, it looks really nice.


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