When people think of hostels, we tend to associate them as the bastion of twenty something, party mad backpackers. Family friendly hostels though?
Well here’s some news. There’s been a huge shift in the hostelling scene in the last few years. Hostels have been diversifying to cater to a more wider audience. The trend of luxury hostels which I’ve been covering on the BudgetTraveller is one example of where hostels are growing up and attracting people of all ages.
In this post, I wanted to cover my favourite family hostels in Europe.
The key things I looked when selecting my top family friendly hostels were
- The availability of private or family rooms. ( Expect dorm-style bunk beds in many family rooms )
- Good central location
- Friendly staff
- A common kitchen where meals can be prepared
- Bed linens are supplied
- Laundry facilities
( Anything else you would add to this list? Love to hear your suggestions )
In no certain order, here are my favourite family friendly hostels in Europe.
All YHA hostels are family friendly ( cots, high chairs available ) with a number of their hostels having undergone an impressive renovation.
YHA Ambleside hostel for me is one of my favourite hostels and the perfect base to explore Lake District. Perched on the edge of Lake Windermere this is probably one of the most scenic hostels in England. It has its own jetty waterside picnic benches, excellent bar and restaurant. The facilities here are excellent- from kayak hire to large self catering kitchen. The bunk style rooms are comfortable and good value for families and couples, many with Lakeside views. There is a comfortable TV lounge and some of the dorms and bedrooms have views across both the lake and the Langdale Pikes. There is a games room which is perfect for the kids and a selection of books for guests to borrow. The hostel is perfectly located with a number of walking and cycling routes in close proximity and the option of bike hire.
There is a ton of fun things to for families in the Lake District. Take the kids on a journey back in time on the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Steam Railway, followed by a trip to World of Beatrix Potter Attraction ( Cost of entry: Adult £6.95 , Senior Citizen £5.95 Child £3.65 , Infants aged 2 & under: free )
Book via Hostelworld. Privates from £30, Dorm beds from £15
YHA SOUTH DOWNS
YHA South Downs is a beautifully converted sussex farmhouse ( with barns ) with ensuite dorms, private rooms, family rooms ( a self contained, 3 bedroom family unit with its own kitchen area available for exclusive use ) and also the option of luxury camping pods. Luxury camping pods? Yes you heard me right. These wooden log pods offer all the magic of a camping experience but with creature comforts like lighting, heating and electrical plug points. Guests have to bring their own bedding. There is a dedicated shower cum toilet bathroom for guests staying in the pods. Pods are perfect for family of 4. Check out my 15 second Instavideo review below of the camping pods below to get a better idea.
Location of the hostel is perfect for exploring the South Downs area. The hostel is right on the South Downs Way making it ideal for either long distance walkers wishing to tackle the whole thing or for those wishing just to cherry pick the sections with the stunning views, many of which are within easy reach of the hostel.Plus the hostel has its own dedicated train station- just a few hundred meters down a country lane brings you to Southease Railway station. The station has direct trains to Brighton ( 25 minutes) and London Victoria every hour ( Journey time: 1 hour 20 minutes )
The hostel’s onsite ‘Courtyard Cafe’ offers a relaxed atmosphere for guests to unwind after a long day. From homemade cakes to coffees to three course meals, the cafe has it all. To get an idea of the food on offer when you dine at the Courtyard Cafe, check here.
Booking via Hostelworld.com , privates start from £39, dorms from £20.
Top tip: Hike upto Firle Beacon which just a wee jaunt from the hostel door and take in the stunning panoramic views across the hills and out to sea.
GENERATOR HOSTEL, BARCELONA
I visited Generator Barcelona recently with my girlfriend’s family and was mega impressed with this hostel. I admit I was nervous as the boys ( 6 & 8) who had never stayed in a hostel before. I have stayed in Generator Hostels before in Hamburg, Copenhagen and recently in London which are impressive properties in terms of design and facilties but I they’ve created something really special here. I was blown away by the style and gaudy design of this hostel. Lots of light and colour.
The kids loved hanging out in the communal lounge with its broad street facing windows that are perfect for people watching, snazzy wallpaper, array of 300+ colourful paper lanterns ( lanterns were inspired by Barcelona’s annual Festa Major de Gràcia and created by local artist, Julie Plottier ) that lend a dreamy feeling plus the beautiful multicolour floor patchwork, Towards the right of the entry of the hostel lobby amidst the 23-foot high wooden boards there is the “Bird Cage”- a bunch of hanging loungers which became a great playground for the boys. On the split second floor of the building, there is a pool room plus a photo booth where guests can get their photo taken.
The hostel has a separate hotel floor (6th floor) with a private elevator which completely insulated us from the hustle and bustle of the dorms below. They offer a choice of beautifully designed family rooms to suit all family sizes plus they are all ensuite. Other great feature was the fact they had a excellent kid friendly food menu so if you are looking to dine in after a long day of seeing the sights of Barcelona, this hostel is perfect. However if you on a budget, looking to cook your own meals, the only drawback of this hostel is the lack of a communal kitchen. To summarise, a fun hostel for both adults and kids.
Booking via Hostelworld , quad room ( Bunk beds) with ensuite bathrooms start from the £84 mark. One child under 2 years stays free of charge in a child’s cot/crib. The maximum number of children’s cots/cribs in a room is 1.
PLAS CURIG, Capel Curig. Wales
If you are looking to plan a family holiday packed with tons of outdoor activities and enjoying nature, then Plas Curig would be my go to hostel. Situated in the beautiful village Capel Curig ( the wettest place in Wales, bring the waterproofs! ) a stone’s throw away from the postcard pretty Betws-y-Coed, Plas Curig is in an idyllic location by the river Llugwy, nestled at the foot of the mist shrouded Moel Siabod mountain. The hostel is beautifully furnished. The common room has a huge plasma screen TV, lots of comfy sofas and a warm, crackling fire to warm yourself up after a long day of exploring the wet, wild outdoors of Snowdonia. They have a beautiful library room which the kids will love- it’s something out of Harry Potter with books from floor to celing. The communal kitchen is huge with lots of cooking hobs, pots and pans. Family rooms are very cosy and comfortable. You are guaranteed a great nights sleep in their custom made wooden bunk beds that come with fluffy duvets and welsh woollen blankets. There is a drying room for your waterproofs and boots. Hostel also offers guided walks of the area and wildlife tours for as little as £8.50 per person.
For a more in-depth review, please check out my earlier review of Plas Curig.
Family rooms are available with a double or twin bed with bunk beds to sleep 2 children. Family rooms prices start from £90 a night. Doubles start at around the £50 mark. Under 2’s are welcome in cots free of charge. Bring your own towels as they are is a charge of £1.50 for towel hire.
Nuremberg may not figure prominently on the list of top destinations to visit but with it’s magical Xmas markets, important history, relaxed easygoing vibe, great restaurants and pedestrian friendly cobbled streets , compact old town -it is the perfect place to visit for a long weekend. You can expect family friendly attractions that include the city’s unique complex of underground tunnels and dungeons plus excellent museums like the Children’s Museum, Toy Museum, School Museum or the Germanisches Nationalmuseum, ( for a guide to the city, please check out my earlier 48 Hour Guide to Nuremberg )
An even better reason for the family to visit is the opportunity for the kids to spend the night in a 500 year old fairytale medieval castle. The newly refurbished Jugendherberge Nuremberg is housed within the thick walls of the city’s Kaiserstellung Castle which towers above the city’s old town. The hostel has excellent facilities. Ultra-modern rooms, all with en-suite shower and toilet. There is an excellent bar and bistro where you can choose to dine plus their generous breakfast buffet is the perfect way to start your day. Other key facilities include a play room, guest kitchen, facilities for warming baby food and drinks, bottle warmer, highchairs, cots and a toilet seat for children, bathroom stool, nappy changing pad and nappy bin.
Quadruple room starts around the £80. All children under 5 years stay free of charge when using existing beds. All children under 2 years stay free of charge for children’s cots/cribs. The maximum number of children’s cots/cribs in a room is 1
I’ve left you with a list of other recommended family friendly hostels.
If you have any suggestions to add to this list, please leave your suggestions in the comments box or email me at europebudgetguide AT gmail.com