Hostelling in Scotland

It’s time to go hostelling!

Jeetees

In April 2019 I went on another road trip adventure. This time I visited Scotland, but still without a car, using public transport. To assure I’d be well rested during my 10 days of exploring, I stayed in a variety of Hostelling Scotland youth hostels.

Before our trip away it was really easy to get information and guidance about which hostel to stay in from the friendly Hostelling Scotland team. They helped us plan our trip, which made everything so much easier since we had never travelled to Scotland before.

Our first stop was at Hostelling Scotland’s recently refurbished Glen Nevis Youth Hostel, which is a 20 minute walk from Fort William. The sunshine on the hills and the river surrounded by smiling people made the walk so enjoyable.

We arrived in front of the wood ‘cabin’ around 19:00 facing the highest mountain in the UK, just in time for the beautiful sunset. The sound of the birds and the feeling of being completely immersed in nature created a real sense of calm and relaxation.

Everything in this hostel is completely new and modern, very clean and easy to use. There’s an amazing self-catering kitchen, great bathroom facilities and an incredible view. We decided to relax on the terrace that you can see on the above picture to connect with the environment (and the WiFi) before cooking up our dinner, and enjoying some white wine in celebration of the first day of our holiday. We then met with some backpackers and tried to play Trivial Pursuit before realising we might have needed the children’s version!

The next day, after a very comfortable night, I had set my alarm for 6am to go running and exploring, while enjoying the first rays of sunshine. It was serene to be running with such a wonderful backdrop along the river, made even more exciting by the baby lambs that decided to join alongside.

After that and a nice warm shower, I had a continental breakfast served by the hostel. It’s a great option for those who don’t have anything to cook, and it can be purchased while checking into any of their accommodations. Also, there’s all the gluten free and lactose free options if necessary. You can choose from toast, cereals, different kind of juices, fruits, ham or cheese, eggs, jam, butter… All you could need!

We noticed that in the Hostelling Scotland’s self catering kitchens, previous guests had left some food behind (also some Tupperware or reusable water containers) which becomes part of the community food. It’s usually marked with ‘Free Food’ in the fridge or on the shelves that you can use. It’s another alternative if you want to save money. There’s always some good stuff!

Jeetees

After our filling breakfast and having said our goodbyes to the very nice staff, we walked away from our home for the night to get back on the road.

Our second stay with Hostelling Scotland was in Inverness Youth Hostel, located on the hill overlooking the town and a 15 minute walk from the bus station. We stayed there for two nights.

The hostel wasn’t as new as the Glen Nevis one, but very spacious and welcoming. We shared a room with two other girls overlooking the ‘forest’ side of the hostel which we enjoyed. During those two days we were mainly outside touring or visiting the city, but we used the self-catering kitchen for our breakfast and we were able to really relax in the nice quiet living room. I appreciated the life happening in the common areas and how easy people were talking to each other. It created a very good energy and atmosphere and it’s always fun to meet strangers and to hear their stories.

Next, we headed up towards a little fishing town where we arrived at 16:20 at Ullapool Youth Hostel. It’s so close to the bus terminal and the Ullapool Hill hike, facing the sea and so peaceful. The hostel is very cute, full of character and charm.

That night we enjoyed some reading in the common area feeling so cosy and homely, before a good night’s sleep in the comfortable bunk beds.

By the way, it’s super convenient that the WiFi password is the same in all of the hostels…as soon as we arrived we connected with no effort!

Also, in the common living room, there’s always some good books to borrow or board games to play with the other guests, which helps you to feel even more at home.

In the morning, after my 7am morning run around town, I joined my friend for a very random breakfast comprised of what was left by the community and what we had brought with us.

I thought that the dining room was very lovely, decorated with fishing items representing the town very well. It was now time to hit the road again toward the NC500 to hitchhike our way to Stromness to take the 7pm ferry to the Orkney Islands. Don’t forget to check our journey through this wonderful land in the article ‘Hitchhiking through the Road 500’.

Once on the island, we took the bus X1 towards the stop closer to Kirkwall Youth Hostel. It was around a 20 minute walk from there and it was late so we were exhausted. We stopped by Lidl to buy our dinner before heading towards the check-in. The good thing about that is the simplicity of it. The hostel is all on the ground floor and it was great to have a room to ourselves! We went to the self-catering kitchen to cook our delicious meal and then spent some time in the living room writing our journals and relaxing before a good night’s sleep.

The next day was dedicated to visiting the island, before our night ferry towards the Shetland Islands. Don’t forget to soon check out for our two trips there!

After two nights on ferries and a lot of exploration, we were exhausted and it felt wonderful to finally arrive at Aberdeen Youth Hostel.

Similar to a manor, in a street filled with massive and elegant houses, this one was very well decorated and welcoming. And again, surprise: We got our own room! After eating our takeaway and taking the nicest shower after two days of bathing in ferry sinks, we headed out towards the city centre for a night out before coming back to the hostel to sleep peacefully with the window open, in sight of the magnificent tree in front of the building.

In the morning, we gathered all of our leftovers and the ones in the free section to compose a filling breakfast before going to visit the city. I particularly loved all the different clocks there and the mural in the café. Also, the man who helped us to check out gave us some great recommendations for what to see in Aberdeen, which was very nice of him.

Our trip was sadly coming to an end (all too soon) and we were now taking the train to Edinburgh to spend our last night in Edinburgh Central Youth Hostel – which was probably one of the nicest hostels I’ve ever stayed in.

In our private room, we felt like we were in a hotel, with some chocolate and water bottles, comfy linen and clean and modern private facilities. We didn’t have the time to stay too long there as it was getting late and we were in need of a good dinner to celebrate yet another successful trip. But once back from our night out, we put on some stand-up comedy on the TV and relaxed in the comfortable bed before our last hours of sleep in Scotland.

To summarize, Hostelling Scotland remains full of surprises. All of their hostels are unique and they all come with their very own personality and charm. We really enjoyed feeling like we were living a complete new experience each time. Their staff are warm and welcoming and always there to help with questions about tourism and sightseeing. Everything was always clean and easy to use, with murals and bright colours adding character, and to be honest we felt at home instantly! The hostels weren’t far from the city centre, and always located in a nice area. It was great to be able to use the same company all around the country – it made the travel planning so much easier!

Stay tuned for our next video on Hostelling Scotland!”