Enjoy a Highland ‘Spring Fling’

STORY BY Patrick 18th February 2023

New figures show that interest in Scotland keeps rising as Brits continue to put their confidence into UK-based ‘staycations’ even as options to travel abroad ease.

With plenty of space, striking landscapes, warm hospitality and a variety of charming property options to spend the night, the great Scottish outdoors is proving increasingly popular as travellers explore the UK more.

Scottish Hostels specialise in providing cosy and often remote accommodation with shared kitchens and living areas across the country for adventurous families and couples wanting to enjoy all the comforts of self-catering with a base to come and go as they please.

The majority of the 75 hostels represented now offer private rooms, some with ensuite bathrooms, elevating the traditional hostel experience to rival that of a hotel stay.

With a brand new website offering a more streamlined user experience, guests can peruse a portfolio of on the Scottish Hostels platform.

“Whether it’s bagging a Monro, exploring Glen Coe or delving into Scotland’s heritage, our members own independent hostels across the country and are experts in local history and experiences. This means that guests can benefit from real insider knowledge and discover hidden gems you won’t find in many tourist guides,” said Dominique Drewe-Martin, Chair of Scottish Hostels and Owner of Ballater Hostel.

beautiful train journeys

Growing Popularity of Scotland

Research by camping specialists Pitchup.com showed a remarkable 100 % increase in bookings of Scottish campsites, caravan parks and glamping accommodation comparing 2020 (18,547 bookings) to 2021 (35,050 bookings).

Hostel accommodation is also the much more popular option than campervan rentals with many of those lucky enough to live in the Highlands. The campervan influx has led to problems with access ways blocked, irresponsible parking in cemetery and school car parks, chemical toilet contents dumped in wilderness areas and many other areas of bad behaviour by a minority as the limited facilities struggle to cope with the mass arrival of campervans, which, unlike hostels, often deliver no positives to the local economy.

Campervan rental experts Indie Campers noted a steep jump in interest in the region, with bookings from their Edinburgh centre overtaking their two other UK depots in London and Manchester by 43% and 27% respectively when comparing figures from November 2021 until February 2022.

Dominique adds, “Scotland is a diverse and exciting country and by staying in a Scottish Independent Hostel, it offers a new way to stay and explore in 2022.”

Some of the hostel options include:

Comrie Croft

Conveniently located within an hour’s drive from both Edinburgh and Glasgow, the 200-year-old farmstead of Comrie Croft is set amongst the rugged hills and glens of the Southern Highlands. Offering a variety of glamping, eco-camping and hostel options within its grounds, it is the perfect place to get away from it all for some quality couple time. Explore the striking local landscape on foot or two wheels, with an onsite bike centre inviting you to enjoy a gentle family route or adrenalin-fuelled mountain bike adventure. With a relaxed and informal atmosphere, Comrie Croft also makes for a great wedding venue for those who love a house party or festival vibe.

Marthrown of Mabie

Cocooned in a magical woodland setting with magnificent views, Marthrown of Mabie is a remote – yet easily accessible – family glamping and wedding venue near Dumfries in the South West of Scotland. From holiday cottages to traditional Celt roundhouses, romantic yurt or tipi glamping tents, guests are spoilt for choice. Even better, despite its rural location this popular forest destination lacks absolutely no creature comforts. From Wi-fi to USB charging plugs, hot tub and sauna facilities, TVs and DVD players, hot showers, fridge freezers and more, visitors will not be missing any of modern life’s crucial amenities. Due to its beautiful setting, Marthrown of Mabie is also a popular wedding venue with a variety of different romantic spaces to choose from.

Argyll Backpackers

A custom-built and accessible hostel that wows with stunning views over Loch Fyne, Arran and the Cowal Hills. The property boasts seven ensuite bedrooms of various sizes, but is also available to rent in its entirety for those who want to stay amongst themselves in their own group. There is also a spacious lounge, a well-equipped kitchen with access for guests with mobility impairments, several outdoor seating areas, and a BBQ / firepit. A small beach is within easy reach, the perfect place to relax after a day of exploring. While there is no onsite restaurant or café, the hostel has a mini shop with a limited selection of products, with ‘breakfast bags’ and takeaway delivery available upon request and at an extra charge. In the winter months (until April 1st 2022), Argyll Backpackers is available only for ‘sole use’ for up to 23 guests or as part hostel ‘sole use’ for up to 13 guests. Alternatively, there is the ‘Wee Snug’ private apartment accommodating up to 4 guests.

Saddle Mountain Hostel

A comfortable and modern four-star property in the village of Invergarry in the Great Glen, and on the doorstep of many great attractions such as the famous Ben Nevis mountain, the Steall Waterfall, and the Jacobite Steam Train. The hostel was shortlisted for hospitality awards in both 2019 and 2020, a testament to the great location, well-kept facilities and warm welcome that awaits. Saddle Mountain Hostel has four private bedrooms with either ensuite or private bathroom access, as well as one mixed dormitory sleeping up to four people. There is also a spacious and bright kitchen, a dining room, lounge and drying room.

Glenbeg Bunkhouse & Bothy

Located in the Cairngorms National Park, Glenbeg Bunkhouse & Bothy is situated in a quiet rural estate just a few miles outside Grantown – on – Spey, a convenient stop for those wanting to hit the North Coast 500, North East 250 or Malt Whiskey Trail. The converted ‘Bunkhouse’ farmhouse can sleep up to 27 people over three rooms, while the cosy ‘Bothy’ fits up to six guests all on the same floor. Both buildings have central heating to keep them dry and warm year-round. The Bothy is also suitable for guests with disabilities and has an especially equipped wetroom. There are flat screen TVs and DVD players in both buildings for a cosy movie night (although the TV has deliberately not been connected) as well as facilities to plug in gaming consoles. Over the New Year’s period, the Glenbeg Bothy is available for hire.

Fraoch Lodge

Situated just 30 minutes from Inverness and 40 minutes from Loch Ness, the quaint Fraoch Lodge offers a desirable location on the edge of the Speyside Way walking trail and the Speyside Malt Whisky Trail. To offer a safe environment, the original layout of the lodge has been divided into two units accommodating individual groups offering two bedrooms and two bathrooms each. The kitchen facilities are shared and can only be used one group at a time, but each has their own breakfast room. There is a large garden with a trampoline and BBQ area. Rooms for New Year’s getaways are available from December 27th 2021 until January 2nd 2022.

Forest Way Bunkhouse

Situated close to the Braemore Junction, the picturesque Forest Way Bunkhouse is ideally located to tour the North West Highlands. The charming village of Ullapool is only 9 miles up the road, with many mountains and beaches nearby. Guests choosing this hostel are in the perfect spot to enjoy stunning scenery, fresh seafood and delightful walks. Built in 2009, the Bunkhouse offers a pleasant and clean environment with modern facilities such as underfloor heating and reliable hot showers. There are two private rooms and one dormitory, all with ensuite bathrooms. The hostel sleeps up to 10 people in total and is available for exclusive use from £140 per night.

Skye Basecamp

Skye Basecamp is located in Broadford on the beautiful Isle of Skye and offers a “home from home” with a selection of private rooms and stunning views across Broadford Bay. Located in the town centre, you have all amenities such as petrol stations, bars and restaurants on your doorstep, while also being close to nature. Just two minutes away from the hostel is a local beach where otters and other wildlife are frequently spotted. The Beinn na Caillich, a local hill, tempts hikers to test their stamina from the horizon. The perfect base for keen walkers and outdoor enthusiasts, Skye Basecamp is run by Skye Guides, the island’s biggest provider of professional instruction and guiding for walking & climbing.

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