News from our Hostels
SIH New Directors 2013
Scottish Independent Hostels is a voluntary organisation run on behalf of its members in the Independent Hostel Sector. Each year at the AGM in March, a Board of Directors is elected which will guide the Association for the next 12 months. This year we are pleased that four seasoned Directors have stayed on, with three new Directors bringing new ideas to the Group. All our Directors are passionate about Hostelling - find out about current SIH Directors here> We are especially grateful to Tricia Eccles of Abernethy Bunkhouses for taking on the role of Chair for 2013 - SIH is safe in her hands! We are very grateful to our Chair for the last four years, Andrew Donaldson of Comrie Croft for the excellent and inspired way he has guided the organisation. SIH have presented Andrew with a Quaich to mark the members appreciation of his dedication and success as Chair.
The Grey Seal Watch at Ayres Rock Hostel, Orkney to run again in 2013
Who doesn't love baby seals? A fascinating Grey Seal Watch took place in November 2012 at Sanday in the Orkney Islands during the grey seal breeding season and the webcam videos are now available on YouTube or on the Sanday Ranger website . Grey Seal pups, unlike Common Seals, cannot swim at birth so the video where a young pup prematurely follows its mother into the water is agonising to watch (Sealcam 5) and caused a flurry of emails from concerned people logged on to the webcam worldwide. During the watch anyone could log in on their computer for full public access and last year people from 16 countries logged on, with 90,000 hits. At Ayres Rock they had wifi set up in the hostel so people can log on to watch. On the other hand you could choose to look out of the Hostel window to see the pups feeding along with the local otter family. The Grey Seal Breeding Watch is to run again in November 2013 with the Ranger, Roderick Thorne also available to provide guided walks to visit the cam watch site. Find out more about Ayres Rock Hostel here> Seal image copyright Beth Loft
Rua Reidh Lighthouse under new ownership
Tracy and Roger McLachlan have taken on ownership of Rua Reidh Lighthouse - one of the most remote and charming hostel buildings amongst our members. They are already putting plans in place to ensure their guests have an unforgettable stay. They have teamed up with two other local businesses to provide some extras for guests staying at Rua Reidh. “Walking and Willdlife Adventures” based just down the road in Melvaig, are going to be running a series of wildlife ‘safaris’ from the lighthouse – looking for sea eagles, whales and dolphins as well as ‘seashore safaris’. And also based in Melvaig, well-known climber Paul Tattersall of “Go Further Scotland” is teaming up with them to provide rock climbing on the cliffs at Rua Reidh, for all levels from complete beginner to advanced. More details are on their website. www.ruareidh.co.uk/
Another twelve unique hostels join Scottish Independent Hostels!
We are pleased to welcome more excellent independent hostels, each with a unique character, to the SIH network, all quality assured by Visit Scotland (or awaiting grading if they are new).
Aultguish Bunkhouse: Near Ullapool - a modern bunkhouse with kitchen, rooms all en-suite with free sat TV in private rooms. Ideally situated for Ben Wyvis, Fannichs and Ullapool hills. Bar on site with real ales, home cooked food with log fires ideal for relaxing at the end an exhilarating day on the hills. www.aultguishbunkhouse.co.uk
Bluesky Hostels: Glasgow - Bluesky Hostel is safe, clean and friendly city hostel accommodation. There are at least 50 pubs, clubs and restaurants within a 5 minute walk from the hostel which is great for backpackers, Scottish tourists and fun seekers looking for budget priced youth hostel accommodation in Scotland. Please note that no children are allowed in the Hostel - 18 to 35 years old only. www.blueskyhostel.com/
Bunkhouse at the Roundhouse: Newtonmore - sleeping only 7, the bunkhouse is set in the fields of a working farm overlooking the beautiful river Spey valley in the Cairngorms National Park. It is easily accessible by road or rail, just three miles west of Newtonmore. www.myhighlandbunkhouse.com/
Farr Cottage Lodge: Corpach - Farr Cottage Lodge is ideally situated in the little village of Corpach, just 3-4 miles from Fort William. Facilities include fully licensed bar, TV lounge, free Wifi, bike hire and storage, laundry service and drying room. Breakfast and picnic lunches are also available www.farrcottage.com/
Lochaline Dive Centre: Lochaline, Morvern - sleeping two to an ensuite room with large communal facilities for groups. Although specialising in diving the Centre is perfect for guests who enjoy walking, fishing and sightseeing. Food available and free Wifi www.lochalinedivecentre.co.uk/
Loch Voil Hostel: Balquidder - a new hostel in a stunning lochside/mountain location, ideal for walking, fishing, canoeing, cycling or just relaxing. The recently refurbished hostel sleeps 12 in 3 bedrooms. Excellent car, bus and train connections to central Scotland and the rest of the Highlands.
Papa Westray Hostel: Papa Westray, Orkney Islands - this community run hostel in a charming remote island setting has en-suite rooms with a sea-view and excellent facilities. Papay has the world's shortest scheduled flight, Europe's oldest dwelling house, beautiful beaches and exceptional nature.www.papawestray.co.uk/beltane-house.html
Smart City Hostel: Edinburgh - one of a new generation of hostels designed for the young, the adventurous and visitors passing through or staying for a while. Smart City Hostel caters for everyone - with private rooms or dorms (all ensuite) up to the minute security features, 24/7 reception, choice of self-catering or bar/restaurant.www.smartcityhostels.com/
The Observatory Hostel: North Ronaldsay - famous for spectacular bird migration, also has abundant seals and unique seaweed-eating sheep. The hostel, a converted barn and byre, sleeps 4,4 & 2 in 3 rooms with double bunks, and has a self-catering kitchen with meals available in the adjacent guest house. www.nrbo.co.uk/
The Old Byre Knoydart: Inverie - Well equipped luxury bunkhouse & double/twin rooms for individuals, couples and groups. The Old Byre offers high quality self catering hostel accommodation set in an unrivalled location in Knoydart, called "the last wilderness" www.theoldbyreknoydart.com/
The Poor House: Tongue - opening in April 2013, 3 miles east of Tongue, The Poor House is an independent family-run bunkhouse sitting alongside the National Cycle Network Route No1 (A836), ideally situated for cycling, walking, fishing and water sport activities in NW Sutherland and Caithness. www.thepoorhouse.co.uk/
Westwood Lodge: Hamilton Park Race Course - ideal for group or party bookings, Westwood Lodge offers space for a total of 65 guests. Located in the private grounds of Hamilton Park Racecourse (just off M74) providing easy access to Edinburgh, Stirling and Glasgow. www.hamilton-park.co.uk/
Lazy Duck Hostel, Cairngorms
A previous news item alerted previous and new guests of the Lazy Duck Hostel to the fact that accommodation was now only on offer to groups. However, there was such an outcry that David and Valery have had a change of heart and will now continue to take bookings from individuals. To find out what they are offering, visit their website here>
Sligachan Bunkhouse, Isle of Skye, joins Scottish Independent Hostels
We are pleased to welcome yet another new member, Sligachan Bunkhouse, to SIH. Set in the heart of the Cuillin Hills, Sligachan Bunkhouse is in one of the most idylic locations in Scotland. Overlooking the River Sligachan, with the famous Black Cuillin Mountain ridge to the front , and the Red Cuillins to the rear, the Bunkhouse has some of the best views on the Isle of Skye.
Argyle Backpackers, Edinburgh joins Scottish Independent Hostels
We are very pleased to welcome Argyle Backpackers in Edinburgh as our newest member - the hostel is a home-from-home for students, backpackers and visitors looking for friendly budget accommodation of a high standard long and short term
We are delighted to welcome Inversnaid Hostel and owner David Lang as a new member. Originally a 19th century church, Inversnaid Bunkhouse provides another charming and unique addition to the accommodation offered within the SIH network. Complete with original stained glass windows and a licensed restaurant, the bunkhouse is in a serene location on the shores of Loch Lomond and on the West Highland Way, in the heart of Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park.
SkyeWalker Hostel, Isle of Skye gets Hoscar Award 2012
Our members are just too good at hiding their light under a bushel! With all this talk of awards, Skyewalker Hostel on the Isle of Skye happened to mention they were awarded the Hostelworld.com Hoscar Award 2012 of best hostel in Scotland, based on guest reviews. Well done Brian and Lisa!
We're delighted to hear that Iona Hostel was recognised as the 'Best Eco-Hostel in Scotland' at the Green Tourism Business Scheme Gold Star Awards, 2012. Find out more by reading the entry on their blog here.
It’s written in the stars for Coll Bunkhouse
One of SIH newest members is celebrating the award of 4 Star status from VisitScotland following a recent Quality Assurance inspection. Coll Bunkhouse was opened by Princess Anne in June and the first few months have been a great success, including excellent customer feedback. There are, however, many more than 4 stars on view on Coll these days – something the bunkhouse is hoping to tap into over the autumn months.
Residents on the Isle of Coll are applying to become Scotland’s first ‘dark skies’ island in a bid to boost tourism. If successful, Coll would join Galloway Forest Park as the only other official dark sky site in the country. Coll has no street lights and very little else in the way of light pollution. Stargazing sites have already been earmarked and an application to the International Dark-Sky Association is well underway.
The local community have long been aware of the incredibly starry nights on Coll with excellent views of the constellations and the Milky Way. The hope is that having dark skies status will help attract astronomers from further afield outside the peak tourism season.
In September, Coll Bunkhouse staff arranged for Dave Chalton of Dark Sky Scotland to visit the island to hold a series of activities aimed at encouraging stargazing. Almost 100 people attended the events which included an indoor planetarium, rocket-making workshops and meteorite handling. The hope is Coll Bunkhouse guests will be seeing stars in more ways than one when they visit over the coming months. Find out more from their website>
Morag’s Lodge leads the way for the best in Hostel Holiday Accommodation
Morag’s Lodge provides high quality facilities in charming Fort Augustus on Loch Ness in the heart of the Great Glen. Accommodation is 4 star and suitable for independent travellers, families and backpackers with ensuite dorms and private rooms. There is also a lively bar with regular entertainment and home-cooked traditional meals.
A Raft of Awards
With all of this on offer it is no surprise to find they Morag's Lodge are picking up a raft of awards in 2012. They won “Team of the Year 2011” in the Hospitality Assured Awards and have been shortlisted for the Highlands & Islands Tourism Awards and a Golden Backpack Award. Congratulations also to SIH members Haggis Hostels and Castle Rock Hostel for their shortlising in the Golden Backpack Award.
Well done everyone!
Balmaha Bunkhouse under new management
We are very pleased to welcome Jock and Gwen Cousin to SIH, who have taken over Balmaha Bunkhouse, near Lochmond and on the West Highland Way. Jock has a military background of 28 years and plans to run Boot Camps during the Autumn and Winter months. They are working in partnership with the Glasgow charity The Bullwood Project and supporting the Royal British Legion and other ex military charities which support British Troops. They are planning a new website but contact details can currently be found at www.balmahahouse.co.uk
Broadford Backpackers New Website
Check out the smart new website for Broadford Backpackers in the Isle of Skye. The have a mix of 3.4 and 6 bed dorms which are ideal for families and small groups as well as individual backpackers and travellers. There are also two private double rooms. Like their new facebook and get 10% off the price of your first night or arrive by public transport and get 5% off your stay!
Jessie Mac's Hostel joins SIH
Another new member for SIH, Jessie Mac's offers a great new concept in hostelling - affordable luxury! Whether you're looking for an affordable room to share with friends or prefer a private room with bed and breakfast, they can offer a warm welcome and a good night's rest. Jessie Mac's is a newly refurbished Victorian manse in Birnam in Perthshire with 3 private double rooms and 4 shared rooms, 6 are ensuite and 1 has a private bathroom. Only 1 hour from Edinburgh and Glasgow and with great public transport links, it's also the perfect base to discover the mountains, waters, rich culture and heritage of "Big Tree Country".
Nunton House Hostel joins SIH
We are very pleased to report another new member; Nunton House Hostel has joined our network. The recently refurbished Hostel is located on Benbecula in the centre of the Uists on the magical Outer Hebrides. It's an ideal location for all types of travellers and holiday makers, within easy reach for walks, wildlife, beachcombing, and hill climbing.
SIH member Jenny Smith retiring from hostelling
We are very sad to lose Jenny Smith at Jenny's Bothy as an SIH member as she is retiring from Hostelling and selling her property. We all offer our very best wishes for Jenny. Jenny's Bothy at Strathdon in Aberdeenshire was one of the founding hostels of SIH (and previously IBHS) and Jenny will be missed. We are hoping the new owners of Jenny's Bothy will join the SIH network and they will be very welcome.
Findhorn Village Hostel joins SIH
We are pleased to announce that Findhorn Village Hostel has recently joined our network. A conversion of the Findhorn Village School, the Hostel provides dorms and rooms, with a meeting room also available. Hostels are quite scarce on this beautiful part of the North East of Scotland so now you can explore with good value, welcoming accommodation now available
New Owners for Newtonmore Hostel
Long-time SIH members Peter and Kathryn Main are moving on from running their very popular and successful Hostel in Newtonmore. However, the good news is that the Hostel will continue under the enthusiastic new owners Sue and Ali who are looking forward to an idyllic lifestyle in the Cairngorms National Park.