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The UK’s first ‘National Landscape Discovery Centre’, dog-friendly hostels, glamping in safari tents, and a hostel of Olympic proportions . . .
YHA England and Wales are pumping the pounds into their network of 160-plus hostels across Britain this year.
US swimmer Michael Phelps lifted his Olympic gold medal tally to 18, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt completed his second golden treble, and Team GB thrilled the home crowd by topping the dais 29 times, but one of the brightest stars of the 2012 London Games was the stunning Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which is soon going to be home to a shiny new YHA hostel opening in early 2019. YHA England and Wales is hard at work on their new flagship London property, a £30-million, purpose-built, 850-bed hostel just a short ‘bowl of chalk’ (or ‘walk’, in Cockney rhyming slang) from the Olympic venues and one of Europe’s largest malls, containing 250 shops and more than 70 bars, and only seven minutes on high-speed rail from some of the city centre’s top sights. Bookings open next year ahead of the 2019 unveiling – click here for the latest updates.
Meet the hostel so green it’s got grass on the roof. YHA has teamed up with the Northumberland National Park to produce the UK’s first ‘landscape discovery centre’, a state-of-the-art £14.8-million project containing a hostel, exhibition space, shop, café, and generous outdoor common areas. The facility is inspired by the Great Whin Sill, a craggy wave of volcanic rock that weaves through the nearby countryside, and blends into its surroundings with natural materials like dry stone walls, glass, timber, and greenery, plus a stack of sustainability features. YHA The Sill is just a stroll from Hadrian’s Wall – built by Emperor Hadrian to keep barbarians out of the Roman Empire, like a miniature version of the colossal wall designed to repel wildlings and white walkers in Game of Thrones – as well as the scenic Sycamore Gap and the Roman fort at Vindolanda. The brand new green hostel opens Saturday 29 July.
YHA England and Wales now offers dog owners the – wait for it – op-paw-tunity to bring their four-legged friends on holiday, with canine companions welcome to spend the night at all bar two of YHA’s camping and ‘glamping’ sites, as well as 14 exclusive hire properties. Pups can stay for just £5 a night with owners keen to sleep under the stars in comfy timber camping pods, quaint camping barns, deluxe cabins, or character-filled glamping sites like bell tents, tipis, or massive safari tents. YHA England and Wales have rolled out plenty more of these picturesque sites in 2017 – check them out on the website.
Perhaps the most glam of these glamping experiences comes at this countryside retreat on London’s doorstep, in the form of two spacious safari tents that look like the kind of thing the Royal Family use when they go big game hunting. We’re talking a kitchen, dinner table, sofa, wooden flooring, two bedrooms sleeping six, private decking with a barbecue and seating . . . oh, and did we mention the fireplace to keep you nice and cosy? The accompanying 16th Century cottage YHA Tanners Hatch is no less charming, surrounded by a certified ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’, and this year benefitting from a £180,000 refurbishment of the lounge, kitchen, and bedrooms.
The words ‘England’ and ‘surfing’ are spotted in the same sentence about as often as the words ‘London’ and ‘cheap’, but whatever the waves at Treyarnon Bay lack in reputation, the tiny Cornish hamlet makes up for in atmosphere – especially at the local YHA. Overlooking the dramatic north Cornwall coast and located just 50 metres from the sand, YHA Treyarnon Bay has just received a half-million-pound investment to upgrade all the accommodation, bathrooms, common areas, car park, and the breezy on-site bar that sprawls out onto the lawn in front of the hostel. So even if the breaks don’t stack up with Bells or Bondi, you’ve still got an evening pint to look forward to as you watch the sun set over the Celtic Sea.
It’s little wonder the Lake Poets – a 19th Century group of writers led by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge who made their name waxing lyrical about the English countryside’s bucolic delights – called Keswick home, inspired by the natural abundance that surrounds the 700-year-old market town. Today, YHA Keswick is the perfect base to explore the stunning Lakes District, set on the banks of the River Greta overlooking the mountains of Latrigg and Skiddaw. After severe flooding in December 2015, the hostel re-opened in April 2017 thanks to a £500,000 revamp of the in-house café, dining room, reception and common areas, plus a new luggage room, bike storage, fresh furniture, nine new en-suite bathrooms, and balconies on all the front-facing bedrooms to take advantage of those poetic vistas.