There are some impressive players in the affordable accommodation squad. We select our top team, from among the Scottish Youth Hostel Association’s own hostels, its affiliates and the independents. See whether you agree with our choices.
This lovely old shooting lodge offers magnificent views of the Northern Corries. Just two miles from the Cairngorm mountain funicular, itâ€™s ideal for year-round activities, including hillwalking, climbing, snowsports, mountain biking, pony trekking, watersports and fishing. Other attractions: the surrounding Rothiemurchus Estate and its many paths through the Caledonian pines, the Loch Morlich Watersports Centre and sandy beach opposite the hostel and the Reindeer Centre, where you can feed these friendly animals. Find out more.
The beautiful island of Coll is Scotlandâ€™s first â€˜dark skyâ€™ island. The lack of light pollution allows you to see more stars in the sky, and there is even a planetarium. The bunkhouse on the island sleeps 16, (including a four berth family room) and is perfect for small groups travelling together. Open all year round. Find out more.
There are two hostels in this lovely corner of Perthshire, as well as camping options including Nordic tents with their own stoves. The Farmhouse hostel sleeps up to 16 in three bedrooms; the Steading takes up to 58. One of the easiest Munros, Ben Chonzie, is on the doorstep and there are 42 others within an hourâ€™s drive. Mountain bikers are in their element here, too, with extensive trails, a skills park and pump track. Find out more.
Craggan Outdoors is actually an outdoor activity centre, offering kayaking, gorge walking, archery and mountain biking and more. The adjacent bunkhouse is a converted farmhouse which accommodates 27. The bothy sleeps six. There is a licensed bar/cafÃ© on-site, or cook for yourself in the well appointed kitchen. A good base from which to explore the nearby Cairngorms National Park. Find out more.
Boasting the claim of the most northerly hostel in the UK, this recently refurbished hostel on Unst sleeps up to 35. There is an adjacent campsite, with pitches for caravans and tents. If you like puffins, youâ€™ve come to the right place, as the island is home to 25,000 pairs of the comical seabirds. Find out more.
This former stalkersâ€™ bothy, eight miles from the nearest road, is a haven of peace for walkers and nature lovers. Itâ€™s run on eco-friendly principles, with wind turbine, solar panels and wood-burning stove, and has no phone or internet. It can take some effort to find, especially in poor visibility, so map, compass and navigation skills are essential, all of which will come in handy as you tackle the 15 Munros in the area. Find out more.
Hosting hill walkers, climbers and backpackers since 1933, this oneâ€™s had plenty of practice at putting people up in a comfortable and friendly style, and the kitchen and lounge are newly refurbished. The main reason to go is towering above you â€“ Britainâ€™s highest mountain, Ben Nevis; thereâ€™s also the West Highland Way and the mountain biking and skiing at nearby Nevis Range.
Find out more.
Surrounded by fields and trees with stunning view of the hills, this hostel is popular with walkers, climbers and families as it offers budget multi-share accommodation but also private family-friendly rooms. It has a large open plan kitchen/dining room and a superb drying room (just in case). Attractions include great showers, comfy beds, the handy position for a walk up the Lost Valley or along Britain’s finest ridge walk, the Aonach Eagach â€“ and itâ€™s just a 10-minute stagger back from the renowned Clachaig Inn. Find out more.
Set in the heart of Royal Deeside, this five star hostel sleeps up to 37 people, with all rooms en-suite. Perfect for launching yourself into the Eastern Cairngorms, this would suit walkers and mountain bikers. The modern lounge area has a wood-burning stove, and there is a room available for wheelchair users. Find out more.
Cyclists arriving here are usually glad to have reached their destination, after an arduous climb over the Bealach na Ba, one of the most spectacular mountain passes in the UK. This large, secluded former hunting lodge is an equally good base for walkers and sea kayakers. Find out more.
This homely eco hostel overlooks the loch and cannot be reached by car. Walk, ride your bike or take the train to nearby Corrour station â€“ and even then youâ€™ll need to walk the last bit. Go there for blissful peace and quiet, a choice of mountain or low-level walks, undisturbed wildlife and a cosy atmosphere. Find out more.
This substantial white-painted hostel at the southern tip of Loch Ness is perfectly placed for walkers, cyclists and paddlers making their way up or down the Great Glen. It has its own bar, with open fire and live music, and a bike store. Find out more.
Orcades Hostel, Orkney
Its non-hilly nature makes Orkney the perfect place to visit with a bicycle (or hire one when you get there). Choose from an abundance of world-class Neolithic sites within striking distance from Orcades Hostel in the main town of Kirkwall. Accommodating 36, this homely hostel is welcoming and comfortable. There is a large garden area with seating and BBQ. Find out more.
Itâ€™s modern, itâ€™s comfortable and itâ€™s bang in the centre of Skyeâ€™s main town, making it a superb base from which to explore this stunning island. Reasons to go: the islandâ€™s mesmerising dark skies, amazing rock formations such as the Old Man of Storr and marine wildlife watching trips. Find out more.
Torridon Youth Hostel
Itâ€™s purpose-built, very friendly and comfortable, and has two lounges â€“ a quiet room at the back and a bigger one for socialising at the front, with a vast picture window overlooking Loch Torridon and the mountains beyond (see main picture at top). Strong points are the location among some of the most spectacular Munros of them all â€“ Beinn Alligin and Liathach, the lovely Whistle Stop CafÃ© at nearby Kinlochewe and the chance to socialise with other outdoors enthusiasts. Find out more.