What is it like to stay at a YHA with kids?

Back in the day, a YHA (Youth Hostel Association) gave an image of dreary accommodation, bereft of luxury and full of sweaty, disheveled youths. You wouldn’t want to sleep there yourselves, let alone take your kids to one. So, it boasts the question. What IS it like to stay at a YHA with kids?

As time has wound on, the YHA has seen many improvements to the facilities and of the name itself. Gone are the associations of the movie ‘Hostel’. (If you’ve not seen the trilogy, I wouldn’t recommend it if you want to sleep in a YHA!). And instead we see a charity destined to bring adventure to young people, in over 90 countries.

YHA Coniston Holly How

A spare weekend had us booking a room at YHA Coniston Holly How for the Saturday night. As we are walking Hadrians Wall later on in the year, a few YHA’s popped up along the route. We thought we had better try one out first, before booking.

Our room cost £55 and breakfast was £6.99 for adults and £3.99 for the children. The YHA was offering a 25% January sale discount which brought our total to around £62 give or take a few pennies. Now this is a bargain for a family of 5.

We arrived a little before 5pm, and because we couldn’t check in until 5, the reception was closed. The facilities were available for us to use, and as it had been raining buckets upon our arrival to the Lakes, our clothes were sopping wet. We brought our clothes in to hang in the drying room. (Before we made our way to the YHA, we had explored Keswick and Latrigg, and had been caught in awful weather!)


The drying room is located under the main body of the house, but very accessible. We took our very wet coats and boots down to hopefully dry over night. Other guests had made use of the room too, but there were many hangers and plenty of room for our belongings.

We took a self guided tour around, and found a basement TV room with games for the kids. A lounge with a small library is located next to the reception area, which is also home to a bar, eating area and kitchen for the staff.

A large self catering kitchen is available to use with 2 ovens and is fully stocked with all manners of cutlery and crockery.


YHA Coniston Holly How is a large hostel and has space for 60 people in beds in shared dorms to private rooms. For every 4 rooms, 2 toilets and a shower are available in close proximity.

Our room housed 4 bunk beds, so 8 beds in total! The kids ran around, spoiled for choice! The room was large and airy with basic storage and a mirror on the wall. An individual light for each bed is located on the wall and the beds are made with clean white sheets, a pillow and a duvet. I must say, the room was VERY warm at night and I woke up a few times due to how hot it was.

Suiting The Needs Of A Family.

The facilities overall are very basic, but suit the needs of a family very well. If the clothes in the drying room still drip a little, there are tumble driers next to the self catering kitchen. Microwaves are ready to use, and of course, a kettle. If, like us, you forget basic tea and coffee (who does that?!) the YHA sell hot and cold beverages. They also offer pizza and main meals that are bookable in advance.

Along with rooms in the house, there are Landing Pods available (think Gypsy caravan style), camping facilities and tipis to choose from too.

We cooked burgers and hot dogs in the kitchen while the kids sat around the large table playing games they found in the library. Other guests mingled in and around us, but everybody was very friendly. We got chatting to a lovely couple and realised that most people were there for the same reason as us. To explore the wonderful sights and sounds the Lake District has to offer.

Our sleep was uneventful, so we woke feeling fully rested and ready for the day ahead. Dicky tried the shower and was not overly impressed. Not much pressure but the water was warm at least.


Breakfast was a selection of cereals, and full English options too. There was even a selection of mini pastries to choose from. Vegetarian sausages are available and the staff were very inclusive of Finleys’ allergies. They made sure the night before that they were able to cater for him. 5 stars on that point.

Overall, our experience was very positive. The staff were very friendly and accommodating, and not at any point did we feel like the kids were out of place. I would certainly take the children again to a YHA and will be looking at our options for Hadrians Wall.

Become a Member

We are now a member of YHA. For a £15 renewable yearly membership, we can get 10% off booking, many discounts from outdoor retailers and the chance to contribute to a charity devoted to helping youngsters to Get Outside. Sounds like a great deal to me!

Have you ever been to a YHA? What was your experience like? What is it like to stay at a YHA with kids?

For more accommodation reviews, why not check out Hafan Y Mor or Bird Rock Campsite.


  1. A very interesting and informative post. It could be me not looking in the right places but I’ve not come accross this covered much if at all. Knowing what to expect from a YHA stay is actually really cool and useful.

  2. I haven’t tried YHA as they have always had a bad rep but it’s perfect for a family of anything above 4 really as most big hotel groups sleep 4.

    I think my partner and I could do with looking into this x

    1. Their rep is improving, and there seems to be more of a focus on families now. I would definitely recommend looking at it as an option.

  3. Wow! I can’t believe how good they are inside now. I remember staying in YHA accommodation in my teens on school trips and they were like something out of the War lol

  4. I haven’t stayed in a hostel since a hen do a long while ago! Really interesting to see your perspective from a family. It looks basic but does the job and the kids seemed so happy!

  5. I never would have even thought about staying in a hostel because of all the bad press but this one didn’t look or sound like a dingy unsafe place to stay. It’s certainly made me think about perhaps booking into one if needed.

    1. They are improving the facilities in most YHA’s now, and they certainly don’t have the bad rep that they used to. Thank you for reading!

    1. I don’t think we really missed out on anything while we were there, but knowing me, I would have forgotten something!

  6. I’ve never stayed at a YHA before, but when I was a kid my parents took us to them all the time. My dad was a member, and we would go on weekends away to the Highlands and stay in various YHAs. I remember having to chores, lol.

  7. I love the YHA and staying there as a family – we have stayed at a few over the years from city breaks to rural retreats, always fantastic locations, friendly staff and good prices. This one looks ace – it’s going on the list

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