Are youth hostels a good choice for family holidays?
Last Wednesday, we set off for a short break at Hartington Youth Hostel in Derbyshire.
This was our first time in a youth hostel so we were unsure whether it would suit our family or not.
I am delighted to report that we had the most marvellous time and will be becoming members of the Youth Hostel Association because we want more of the same please.
When we arrived in the beautiful countryside of the Peak District, we were already in great moods. It felt lovely to be escaping various stresses for a few days and we were blessed with an unexpected heatwave.
Hartington Hall is an old and impressive building set on a hillside. It has lovely grounds and the playpark and large outdoors chess set immediately grabbed our children’s attention.
We walked through a lovely wood-panelled room to reception where we were dealt with courteously, efficiently and with humour. Absolutely the best customer service I have had in accommodation for a long time. You got a real sense that nothing was too much trouble and that your pleasure mattered to the staff.
Our room had 5 beds in it and we enjoyed the novelty of making our own beds. There was a shower room and a loo down the corridor but I understand ensuites are available if that is your preference.
The children spent the evening making new friends in the play areas. We felt able to chill and there was plenty of seating in terms of benches and picnic tables.
We all slept really well. The room was a little hot but that was understandable as it was at the top of the building and temperatures outside were high.
Breakfast was wonderful with a choice of full English or Continental style. Very affordable at well under £20 for all 5 of us and as much as you could eat.
In the morning,we explored a town nearby but the children kept nagging us to go back to Hartington Hall so we did. We spent a pleasant afternoon there amazed at how easy it was to relax. There was a culture where all the families were friendly but not in your face, just the right balance for myself.
Dinner was equally gorgeous and served in a lovely dining room with panelling and a Victorian fireplace. There was a basic menu (sausages and mash etc) or you could choose some rather glorious food from the specials board (lamb and herby dumplings etc). Children had their own menu (pizza, spaghetti bolongnese etc) and ate free if aged under 10 years. Desserts went down very well indeed.
We were delighted to find that there was an in-house bar and we may have indulged a little too freely on our second night there partly due to the reasonable wine prices.
On our last day we again had a little trip out to a local town and then spent the afternoon picnic-ing in the grounds of the Hall and checking our pets’ corner. By now, there was a real sense of camaraderie with the other guests so Hartington Hall was a very pleasant place to be.
One of the things we loved about Hartington Hall was how much space there was available for the use of guests. As well as the grounds, there was a games room complete with jenga, large Connect 4, football table and pool table. Sweet machines were available here too at 20 pence a time.
There was a quiet room where we played cards. This was comfortably furnished and had books and a computer available for the use of guests. There was also a library at the other end of the building, a very cosy space ideal for reading but also with a television in it should you wish to check up on the Olympics.
There was also a laundry room and a well-equipped self-catering kitchen.
On the day we left, we checked out and were allowed to continue enjoying the outside space until we decided what time we wished to leave. The truth was we did not want to leave at all but we are already looking forward to our return some time later this year we hope.
The final highlight was the Treasure Trail you could do to find out the history of Hartington Hall. We all enjoyed this and I got a little surprise along the way. But that is a story for another day …
So if you are looking for an affordable family holiday full of fun with good accommodation and tasty food, we highly recommend you get yourselves signed up for the Youth Hostel Association. It was so lovely to stay somewhere that really could claim to be family-friendly indeed, too often a rarity in the United Kingdom.