Planning a student group trip to the United Kingdom? Consider this: skip the hotel and stay in a hostel. Hostels were originally designed to allow students to become well-rounded and cultured scholars. There’s only so much you can learn from your own town’s classrooms, and hostels provide an environment perfect for young student travelers in search of worldly knowledge. Student Group Travel Planning Guides presents the benefits of staying in hostels, hostel history, tips for groups staying in hostels and some top hostels in the UK.
Why Stay in a Hostel?
UK hostels are set up like American dormitories; they are very social settings where students and young backpackers come together under one roof. This is the perfect environment for your students to not only prepare for college dorm life (if they aren’t in college already) but also to engage in valuable conversation with other travelers. You can get the inside scoop just by talking with other travelers, not your average hotel concierge.
Generally, hostels are much more affordable than hotels, starting at about $11 a night. Hostels also allow you to save money on food. Rather than going out to eat every day, you can use the communal kitchen to prepare your group’s meals. Not to mention that cooking together is a great way for your students to bond and discuss their experiences on the trip.
Hostels are usually near public transportation, allowing you to quickly and cheaply travel to your next destination or daily sightseeing. An up-and-coming commonality of hostels is that many hostels will arrange group tours of the city.
The History Behind the Hostel
German schoolteacher Richard Schirrmann began the youth hostel movement in 1909 when he saw the need for overnight accommodation that would give young students the chance to safely, and affordably, travel. As a result, the world’s first Jugendherberge (youth hostel) opened in 1912 in , located in the Lenne River valley in western Germany.
During the early years of hostels, travelers were supposed to do chores and manage the hostel themselves as much as possible. This was done to build character and provide students with physical activity. There is still a hostel within Altena Castle’s grounds today and it’s possible to visit the original rooms that were used by the very first youth hostellers.
Tips for Groups Staying in Hostels
- Plan ahead. Which hostel not only fits your group’s size, but will also put you in the best place that will allow your group to get the full experience of that city?
- Pack your own sheets and toiletries. Many hostels will provide these, but it never hurts to be prepared, especially for larger groups.
- Journal. Have your group members write down everything that happened that day before bedtime; it’s a great way for them to reflect on their experiences and wind down after a long day.
- Be social. The more people you meet, the better your chances are at finding all the local secrets and learning even more about the area than you may have expected.
- Stay organized. Keep track of all your luggage, valuables and itineraries. Remember how stressful college dorm life was when you couldn’t find your book before class beneath all you and your roomie’s clothes? Remember: hostels are very much like living in dorms.
Hostels in the UK
Oxford Backpackers Hostel
Oxford, England Oxford Backpackers Hostel is the first and largest independent hostel in Oxford. Located in the heart of Oxford, and only a two-minute walk between the train and coach stations, the hostel is an ideal base for exploring all of Oxford’s history, famous universities, museums and pubs.
The Fort York Boutique Hostel
York, England The Fort is York’s first boutique hostel, nestled off the medieval Stonegate. The Fort is located in the heart of the historic City of York, close to the York Minster Cathedral. The Fort was voted the 2014 top hostel in England by hostelworld.com.
Isle of Skye, Scotland Skyewalker Hostel was rated the No. 1 hostel in Scotland for 2014. It’s located on the Minginish peninsula and provides easy access to the Cuillin mountain range. You can walk to the nearby beach where there are regular sightings of whales, dolphins and basking sharks as well as Skye’s famous eagles. Skyewalker Hostel hosts regular Scottish folk music sessions and has instruments available for guests to use.
Downhill Beachhouse & Hostel
Castlerock, Northern Ireland
Downhill Beachhouse & Hostel was rated the No. 1 hostel in Northern Ireland and is found on Northern Ireland’s longest beach underneath the famous Mussenden Temple. This Victorian home is an ideal base for backpackers and groups to explore the Giants Causeway, Dunluce Castle and the North Coast.
The UK is full of educational opportunities and historical sites, from the great city of London to the beaches and castles of Northern Ireland. The UK is also full of group-friendly hostels where your students will have an experience they will never forget. Hostels may be booked online or by phone. There are online reviews for thousands of hostels, so pick which one will host your next student group!
By Lauren Reiniger