Family Friendly Hostels
Written by Kat Mackintosh
Hostels used to have an upper age limit of 26 and a lower age limit of 16 – families, and the potential noise and mess and extra requirements they can require were definitely NOT welcome – but those days are gone and the vast improvement in the quality of hostel life and the rising price of shacking your family up in a hotel make family hostelling a very promising option. Especially if you’re a backpacker from way back and miss the hostel life where you meet people and share traveling stories while on the road – and your kids are going to love it too.
Basic and friendly is the way to go for both family and hostel accommodation. Features like a shared kitchen space and sending you off with a free breakfast, which many hostels now do, will save you on meals and help keep the kids from grumbling; and having a TV or DVD room may help keep them quiet. Bike hire, internet access and on site laundry rooms are also going to make your travels easier and in family friendly hostels your kids are likely to find the same caliber of playmates you found on the seaside caravanning holidays of your youth, and because socialising is such an important part of hostel life, parents are likely to meet people to have a proper conversation with as well.
The Edinburgh Central Hostel is a prime example of families paying less for just as much comfort – and how much did you love bunk beds when you were a kid! The YHA in Hartington is a refurbished manor house, complete with oak panels and huge grounds. It sounds grand, and as if your kids could do it some damage, but it’s actually very family friendly, they’ve put in an adventure playground and a wildlife garden – you can even bring your pet.
A family welcome is another nice thing to find when travellng with kids and there are lots of hostels where the owners live in and run the place, ensuring a comfortable home-y atmosphere on the road. One Florence Close in Singapore and the Hostel Estoril in Buenos Aires are a couple of good examples.
Eastseven, one of the most popular hostels in Germany, is known for the age range of its visitors, as is Davos Switzerland’s Youthpalace – very hotel circa 1920 – all sunny roof terraces and clean air.
The new breed of luxury hostels offer some of the most attractive family accommodation around. The Imm Eco Hostel in Chiang Mai, Thailand is like a luxury resort with all the mod cons including a spectacular pool, but the rooms are basic and prices low - if you’re a kid it’s only really the pool that impresses you!
As well as more comfort for picky eaters and sleepers and less expense for Mums and Dads, hostels are also a good place to immerse your kids in other cultures and try and get them to pick up enough of the local lingo to order you a coffee or get you your family discounted ticket into the museums.
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