Quality Standards in Independent Hostels

Hostel accommodation is by its nature good value for those on a budget but this does not mean that the standards of hospitality are not high. The majority of SIH Hostels are quality assured by Visit Scotland (VSQA) as providing a certain level of accommodation and their relevant badge is displayed on their directory listing.  Many hostels also opt to join additional quality schemes including "green tourism", "welcome", "taste our best" schemes as well as fulfilling the criteria for disabled access. Hostel members which are not VSQA are required to sign up to our own in-house customer review system.  
The common factor amongst all our hostels is shared facilities, in particular kitchen and dining facilities.  This allows people to eat and drink within their budget and tastes as well as meeting other like-minded people in a social setting.  Outwith the cities many hostels are well set up for providing tailored accommodation for outdoor enthusiasts, providing drying rooms, storage for sporting equipment and even outdoor activities.

A wide range of types of hostel accommodation

Within the term "Hostel" there is a wide range of different types of accommodation which will suit all budgets.  Each SIH Hostel is unique because it is independently owned but the following categories from Visit Scotland give an idea of the different levels of hospitality offered:

Hostel Accommodation

Accommodation is often in shared rooms with bunk beds but family and private rooms may also be available. Some dorm rooms and private rooms may have ensuite. Hostels normally welcome individuals, families and groups. Hostels may be more formal than backpackers and bunkhouses and may provide a meal service or a cafe/restaurant/bar on site.

Backpackers Accommodation

Very similar in style to a hostel, but may be run on less formal lines. They are often more appropriate for independent travellers and the younger end of the market.

Group Accommodation

Accommodation is often in shared rooms with bunk beds. Predominantly group bookings only are accepted. May be fully serviced or self catering.

Activity Accommodation

Accommodation is often provided on a group basis, but some may take individuals travellers and couples. The establishment will also offer fully certified or licensed activities.

Bunkhouse Accommodation

Rural accommodation which can be booked by groups or individuals. Services and facilities may be limited but will include a self-catering facility.

Bods and Camping Barns

Simple, overnight accommodation, usually in remote or rural locations where facilities and services may be limited.

VisitScotland Grading System

VisitScotland uses a five-level star-grading system to indicate the standard of customer care and range of facilities on offer at assessed establishments. The awards focus on the standard of the welcome, hospitality and service they provide, as well as presentation and the standard of toilets, shop or café if they have them.

The number of stars awarded to a property indicate that it is:

Acceptable - 1 star
Good - 2 stars
Very good - 3 stars
Excellent - 4 stars
Exceptional - 5 stars