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YHA in general
Member Name: logberg
YHA in general
Advantages: Safe, cheap accommodation, meet diverse range of people
Disadvantages: Sharing accomodation, toilets, bathroom etc with strangers
YHA, The concept is old, young travellers of like mind, staying together and keeping costs down.
Apparently, when first operative, the YHA concept meant you had to do a list of duties before you left the hostel, this ensured it was clean, safe and ready for the next lot of young travellers.
Nowadays, mostly, you don't have to do anything, but pay: it is all done by staff, generally young people from all over the world or local, well trained managers employed by YHA.
The only YHA I have visited where you had to do chores was in Winchester, the manager was proud to still promote the original ideals of the association. It was due to close this year.
I mostly travel on my own and use YHA hostels because I am not sure I would be confident about the standards, security and cleanliness of a backpackers establishment.
You most definitely could not describe me as a 'youth' but that no longer is a criteria to be allowed to book YHA. One Easter weekend at a YHA in a remote rural area of Cornwall the average age of guests was 65 years old.
From my experience of the YHA concept in action, at around 25 YHA's in Britain, I have seen frontline staffing to high levels. When you chat with them they have obviously been well trained, have support in their roles and quite honestly it shows in the service and information they share to make sure you get the best out of your visit to their area.
Having said that I do have memories flooding back of two managers who left a little to be desired. One was in the north of the country and he was so drunk I had to fill in my own credit card details and put it through his machine!
The other was so growly because we pressed the bell five minutes before opening time as we wanted to ask where to park the car,as there was not a carpark at the YHA. We were keen not to attract the 'ire' of the parking officer who was lurking nearby. The aforementioned manager was extremely cross that our watches did not tell the same time as his.
We felt a little piqued that he did not see our plight as worthy of pressing the bell five minutes before he was going to open the door anyway.
Just added this in to get a balance on this story!
Actually that is perhaps a matter worth mentioning, some YHA hostels stay open all day but others do close from around mid morning until 5pm. So, if you are booked in for a few nights you have to be sure you have something to do during the day and to be back if there is a night curfew in the form of a lock up at a certain hour later at night.
If there is a night curfew, staff usually let you know how to get in should you arrive back late.
Another thing you might not like is the fact that you do take your own towel but bedding is mostly included in the tariff.
Now, on the subject of tarrif. YHA's are really good value, especially if you are taking a family on holiday. I'd say the average I've paid is around ten to 12 pounds in Britain and perhaps up to 15 pounds in some parts of Europe.
There are differing prices: individuals prepared to share with 4 others, 6 others, up to 10 others and even 12 others at some hostels; family units and rooms for 2 hostellers.
Some do bed and breakfast, but not all. Ask when you book.
Now, booking is easy, either phone up or use the internet which has secure booking service. On the website there is heaps on information which will easily show you whether YHA hostelling is for you.
Depending on the hostel you often get the chance to do your own catering in the Members Kitchen, or to eat chef meals in the hostels dining room.
Many have a laundry where you pay to do your own washing, drying and sometimes ironing. (I don't like ironing so I obviously have not ever ironed in a YHA and do not intend ever to do so!)
In Britain you will find YHA's in some fantastic old buildings, some I've seen are castles, historic homes, a flour mill and some other gems.
I personally like being a YHA member. You do have to join but if for any reason you do not want to you can pay an extra fee and stay anyway.
I joined in my home country of New Zealand and have had a lot of use out of its international status, in UK and Europe which is how I've met so many interesting people.
As mentioned in my disadvantages, you may not like the idea of sleeping with people you've never met before but I can honestly say I have only once had to ask to be shifted; that is from around 25 hostels in 6 years so give it some thought.
If meeting people, staying in cheap but safe and clean hostel accommodation interests you, give YHA a go.
Summary: YHA a modern travellers well priced accommodation, safe, clean and interesting