Best value youth hostel holidays

Let's face it, youth hostels had an image problem. They were full of boozy students snoring in dormitories, or over-serious hikers with flasks of tea, woolly hats and too many maps. If you haven't visitied one lately you might be surprised by the changes. We picked out some of the best value youth hostel holidays in the UK.

The Peak District is superb for hiking or biking holidays or weekend breaks. You don't have to stay in expensive hotels or holiday lets either. Hartington Hall, a short drive from Buxton or Ashbourne, is a converted manor house in a beautiful Derbyshire village. A family room can be booked for around £25 a night for YHA members, and there is an excellent restaurant and bar on site.

Fancy a Cotswold break but haven't been invited to one of the Prime Minister's supper parties? The picture-postcard village of Stow on the Wold is within affordable reach if you book a place at the 17th-century hostel in the heart of the English countryside. With its own cafe, and village pubs a short stagger away, this is the ideal base for a weekend in the country. Family rooms start at around £25, or dormitory beds from £12.

Heading for the Highlands? A perfect, tranquil stopover on the road to the Isles is the hostel at Lochranza on the north side of the Isle of Arran. The hostel is surrounded by hills, sheep and deer, with the ruins of a 13th-century castle adding romance to the landscape. As if that's not tempting enough, there's a malt whisky distillery a short walk away.

For YHA membership, visit the website at yha.org.uk. Holders of Family Railcards may be eligible for free membership.

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