Where to enjoy a winter hostel adventure in Scotland
Discover the best hostels for a range of Scottish winter adventures in my recent Sunday Mail column. Read the pdf or see the story below.
Great winter hostelling in Scotland
Budget-friendly and revamped for the modern traveller, Scotland’s many hostels offer the ideal base for a winter outdoors adventure.
Here’s my pick of the best SYHA hostels and the activities you can enjoy nearby.
Best for snowsports
Aviemore Youth Hostel
Where: 25 Grampian Road, Aviemore.
What’s it like?: Modernised in the last couple of years, Aviemore Youth Hostel has multi-share and private rooms, a self-catering kitchen, dining area, drying room and lounge with views of the mountains.
Go outdoors: SYHA Aviemore is just nine miles from CairnGorm Mountain where you can enjoy downhill skiing and snowboarding. There is also access to back country skiing, snow showing and winter climbing in the wider Cairngorms National Park. See www.cairngormmountain.org
Glencoe Youth Hostel
Where: Glencoe, Ballachulish.
What’s it like?: Cosy SYHA Glencoe Hostel has both multi-share accommodation and private family rooms. There’s an open plan kitchen/dining room and a drying room, which one customer described as of the best in the Highlands.
Go outdoors: Glencoe Youth Hostel is 11 miles from the mountain ski area of Glencoe Mountain, 8.5 miles from The Ice Factor indoor ice climbing centre, Kinlochleven, and a 45-minute drive from Nevis Range Mountain Experience, Fort William.
Braemar Youth Hostel
Where: Glenshee Road, Braemar.
What’s it like?: The hostel offers a mix of traditional interiors and modern furnishings with many homely touches, such as big sofas, a large self-catering kitchen and dining room. There is a choice of bedrooms, including private and family rooms.
Contact: www.syha.org.uk/where-to-stay/highlands/braemar.aspx and 01339 741659.
Go outdoors: There are two ski centres on the doorstep, Glenshee (nine miles) and The Lecht (23 miles).
Best for winter walking
Torridon Youth Hostel
Where: Near Achnasheen, Ross-shire.
What’s it like?: One of SYHA’s “remote” hostels, the Torridon Youth Hostel is purpose-built and offers modern, practical facilities for outdoor enthusiasts. There is a self-catering kitchen, two large lounges with panoramic views, a drying room and multi-shared rooms and private/family rooms.
Note: Limited opening until March.
Go outdoors: The Torridon area is a magnificent corner of the north-western Highlands and walkers are spoilt for choice with hills, coastal trails, historic passes and hidden glens to explore. See www.walkhighlands.co.uk for ideas.
SYHA also runs Torridon Winter Munros & Winter Walking Skills courses from Torridon Youth Hostel. See www.syha.org.uk
Crianlarich Youth Hostel
Where: Station Road, Crianlarich.
What’s it like?: The modern building is nestled below a forest in the Strathfillan Glen. Facilities include a self-catering kitchen, multi-share and private bedrooms, a cosy lounge, large dining area and a drying room.
Note: Weekends or RentaHostel only during winter until April.
Go outdoors: From Crianlarich there is access to 20 Munros, 11 within walking distance, and numerous lower summits. The long-distance walking route, the West Highland Way, passes through Crianlarich.
Best for city and sport
Edinburgh Central Youth Hostel
Where: 9 Haddington Place, Edinburgh.
What’s it like?: A five-star city centre hostel – 10 minutes from Waverley train station and York Place tram stop. The hostel has group, family and single accommodation in a variety of ensuite rooms. Premium rooms are also available. There is a self-catering kitchen and dining room and an on-site licensed café.
Go outdoors: The hostel is seven miles from Midlothian Snowsports Centre where you can try dry slope skiing. It’s also on the doorstep of a wealth of capital attractions.
Glasgow Youth Hostel
Where: 8 Park Terrace, Glasgow.
What’s it like?: Spacious common areas include a lounge and TV room, games room, self-catering kitchen and dining room. The youth hostel accommodates groups, families and individuals.
Outdoors indoors: Practise the outdoor sports of skiing, snowboarding and ice climbing at Snow Factor, Braehead, seven miles away. There are also many free attractions, such as museums, close by that can be reached on foot or by city bike hire.
Best for getting away from it all
Loch Ossian Youth Hostel
Where: Corrour, By Fort William.
What’s it like?: The eco youth hostel is spectacularly situated on the banks of Loch Ossian on Rannoch Moor. Many facilities are provided by green developments, including locally sourced hydropower, composting toilets and a reed bed for grey water soak away. There are fridges, heaters and hot showers.
Only multi-share accommodation is available but groups and families have the option of booking a room for exclusive use.
Go outdoors: It’s an adventure just to reach the hostel because it is accessible only by rail, via Corrour Station, the UK’s highest mainline station, on foot or bike, or by cross-country skis when there is snow. There are two Munros nearby or you could walk a circuit of the loch.