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Hostels in England

My husband and I are planning a trip to England late next summer (probably September). This will be our first time to Europe and want to see a lot on a little budget... hopefully $4000 (including air from TX) for both of us for 10 days going to Bath, Cambridge, Cotswolds, York and London. My question: hostels sound like a great way to meet people and stay cheap.. however I'm not really into drinking or partying.. we just moved to Juarez, Mexico to help in an orphange.. so we love adventure, just not the alcoholic kind.. are hostels just for the young party crowd or is there hope for us too? I would love to stay up late sharing stories and playing games with other travelers and have an excellent pair of ear plugs if there is no curfew! If hostels are still an option, would you recommend any hostels in any of the places we're planning to visit? Thanks SO much!

Posted by
69 posts

While I can't give you any specifics, my mom, who is 65, just got back from 3 weeks in Scotland. She was with my 43 year old brother. They stayed in Hostels and had a great time. They don't drink and spent alot of time meeting people from all over the world. My mom took her knitting with her which is always a conversation starter. Sounds like a fun trip!! And bless you for the work that you do. I live in New Mexico so I've seen Juarez. It must break your heart.

Posted by
440 posts

Angela I have stayed at hostels in Britain, NZ and Australia, and there is always an age range of about 50 years from oldest to youngest visitor. The popular areas book out rather more quickly. Check out the International Youth Hostels site for locations, prices and ammenities. They are certainly the place to meet the most interesting people. Happy hostelling.

Posted by
12172 posts

There are many hostels that aren't party hostels. The problem is sleeping together. Hostels usually have a choice of bunks in dorms seperated by sexes and rooms for doubles or families with a number of single beds.

If you are thinking of double rooms, you may like B&Bs more.

Posted by
390 posts

I can recommend the YHA Hostel in Stow on the Wold in the Cotswolds - very quiet and family-oriented.

I've also heard great things about Palmer's Hostel in London - it seems to be pretty quiet and "grown-up".

In York we stayed at York Backpackers, which had private rooms but was only so-so on the quiet scale. However, the YHA in York is nice. Check out for all of their locations.

Posted by
1014 posts

We have stayed in Hosels for years. They can be cheap places to stay. Partying is your choice. Some hostels will close at night-curfew and some will stay open 24 hrs. Some are smoke free, some do not care. Read posts on for reviews. At times, some hotels can be as cheap or cheaper than a hostel. Location is the key. We have stayed at most of the in UK. Some are downtown some are way out on the ring road. The one in Liverpool is almost downtown and is a 3 block walk to the Beatles Museum and at 33L per night, per room, it is as cheap as a hostel and you have a private room. Of course the bath and toilet are down the hall, as are most hostels.

From what I have been reading, the in London is the cheapest place to stay at 25L per night. This will fill up fast, so book really early.

Will you be driving or doing public transport. By driving, you can stay out of town and places can be cheaper and you get to go to the places you want. When we are staying in the city for the entire time and only doing day trips, we do not rent a car. If we are going to be in different cities every 2 or 3 days, we rent a car. We have rented a car traveled to the city, turned it in and two days later had a rental and picked it up and went onward. This can be cheaper or it can cost more. Some rentals give a discount for a weekly rental and some do not. Do the math. You will have to plan a bit more and make sure there are rentals sites available at the places you wish to travel to if you do the return and re-rent option. (Stayed in Paris in 2000-novice traveler- and paid $50 a day to store a car under the hotel for a week, plus the $60 per day car rental. Cost me 770.00 for nothing. Lesson learned. Do not get attached to the rental.)

Posted by
208 posts

Try to avoid independent hostels (Flying Pig, etc.) I can tell you that many of them are party hostels. I've stayed in hostels in London and all around Scotland. Your best bet is to stay in a HI Hostel. They are typically fairly clean and for the most part quiet.

If you're traveling in the high season, book them in advance. Also keep in mind that some hostels (mostly in the smaller towns) will have curfews.

Good luck!!

Posted by
440 posts

Angela, staying at a country pub may also be an option. Again, there is an opportunity to talk with the locals down in the bar.

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you to everyone for your excellent help!

Bonne - You are right. Before this post, I had looked at several indep. hostels and got a "party-only" impression, but the HI hostels look fantastic.
Jennifer - Thanks for the specifics. Love having a personal recommendation, esp. since Rick doesnt mention many hostels in his books.
Stella - These kids deffinately have an uphill battle, but bringing a little love and hope into their lives makes up for the teary nights :)
Pat - I havent decided yet if you were joking about the pubs :) Thanks for the tip on YIH.

Posted by
1014 posts

He is not kidding. I looked into staying at a pub in Doolin, Portobello, and other cities. Several pubs rent rooms upstairs. Some include breakfast. A long time ago, Pubs were also small hotels where travelers stopped on their journeys.

Posted by
8293 posts

The YHA hostel in Winchester is a beauty, placed as it is right over a fast running narrow river, in a very pretty part of the city.

Posted by
104 posts

Jennifer mentioned Palmer's Lodge in London, and I heartily second the recommendation. I stayed there this summer for 8 nights, and it was perfect. It is only 15GBP a night (I think it is 17GBP on the weekends), and that includes free breakfast, internet, and sheets. It was ver clean, the people were friendly, and it is not a party hostel at all. Check it out, and have a fantastic trip!

Posted by
32198 posts

Norma, your Post brought back memories of my stay at the Winchester YHA. What a fantastic location, an old flour mill directly above (as I recall) the River Itchen. I still smile when I remember trying to find the place. I had directions but couldn't seem to locate it. Finally, in desperation I resorted to my cell phone and called the Hostel, and was surprised to see someone down an alley waving at me.

Angela, as others have mentioned, some of the independent Hostels are more "party" locations. Usually the YHA / HI properties are well managed and predictable (breakfast usually provided). I'm 50+ and usually stay in some Hostels on each trip. Some Hostels have double rooms but these usually book up early, and the cost is often close to that of a budget Hotel or B&B. If they don't have doubles available, are you willing to take a dorm room?

Some comments on your locations:

Cotswolds - as someone mentioned, the Hostel in Stow-on-the-Wold is a good one. It's right in the main town square (close to "the Old Stocks"). However, you'll have to consider transportation if you won't have a car. Stow doesn't have railway access, so check National Express for Bus times. You might consider a car for a day or two.

York - the YHA is in an old Mansion (check the web site), close to the river. On my last stay there, they had a very good cafeteria-style breakfast (you might want to "hold" the black pudding!) and a full kitchen staff. It's an easy walk to the Railway Museum (an awesome Museum, and I believe FREE) and also to the centre of town (be sure to take the walking tours which start at the T.I.).

Happy travels!

Posted by
3580 posts

I am an older traveler; I sometimes stay in hostels. I avoid hostels with the description of "fun," "party atmosphere," "no lockout." If you want to sleep, you want a quieter more adult atmosphere. I like hostels because they are inexpensive and are great places to meet people of all ages from many parts of the world. If you are "older" go ahead and stay at a hostel. Some hostels have co-ed rooms (both sexes); you and your husband might be comfortable there. Check travelers' reviews first; there is a range in quality and amenities.

In Bath I've stayed at the YMCA, which is run as a hostel. Private rooms are available for one or two people. There is a hostel (in Bath) uphill behind the train station called the White Hart. I stayed there a couple of years ago. It seemed to attract older travelers and families. The rates were very reasonable.

Since hostels charge per-person, sharing a private room may cost more than a nearby B&B would charge for a double room. And the B&B would probably feed you a better breakfast.