Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to young to stay at a youth hostel. Although this is something I knew already, I rediscovered it recently, by staying at YHA Snowdon Pen-y-pass in Wales.
Youth Hostels often conjure up a few different images; either bunking with a school group, in cold rooms, with musty sleeping bags, being told to be quiet by your teachers, on a field trip, OR the infamous hostel image of big groups of 18-25-year-olds, sleeping in large dorm rooms, with wild parties, and pub crawls
Well shove that image aside for a second, and let me fill you in about the YHA, and my stay at YHA Snowdon Pen-Y-Pass.
History of Hostels and the YHA
The concept of hostels was thought of, way back in 1909 by Richard Schirrmman in Germany. Although the concept took some time to reach the UK. The Youth Hostel Association England and Wales (formally the British Youth Hostel Association) was formed in April 1930. There are separate entities for Northern Ireland (Hostelling International Northern Ireland) and Scotland (Scottish Youth Hostels Association). The first hostel open in Wales in December 1930, and now the YHA in England and Wales has a network of 200 youth hostels, bunkhouses and camping barns. YHA is a member of Hostelling International, so if you are a member, you have access to over 4000 hostels Worldwide.
In the past, I have stayed at a YHA in Sydney, in a converted train carriage, as well as YHA St Pancras in London, and the YHA in Mount Cook, New Zealand, when I went off to hike up the Mueller Hut.
YHA is a Charity
This is something I was only made aware of lately, but YHA is a Charity and is supported by over 700 volunteers. Its mission statement is:
“To inspire all, especially young people, to broaden their horizons, gaining knowledge and independence through new experiences of adventure and discovery.”
What a wonderful mission statement.
The YHA also partners with chance for change, a social enterprise which gives young people, the opportunity to develop skills and the independence to travel through wilderness journies.
Staying at YHA Snowdon, Pen-Y-Pass
The YHA at Pen-Y-Pass is situated at the foothills of Snowdon, and is a fantastic base, for climbing to the summit; you’ll even get a bit of a head start, given that the car park starts at an altitude of 359 metres, and the Summit sits at 1,085 metres.
The YHA at Pen-Y-Pass brands itself as a 4* mountain side hostel, and that, I quite agree with. It had more of a hotel feel to it in some points, yet still had all the elements of a hostel. It is a large hostel, with 16 rooms, all ensuite.
The dorm rooms are single sex, or you can book out family/private rooms. The beds are comfortable, and come with thick duvets, so even in wet Wales, you’re not going to get cold inside this hostel.
I was surprised at how spacious the dorm rooms were, and the facilities within them. There were lockers, a large shower, toilet and sink. My room overlooked the road, looking up to the Mountain – a top choice for this part of the country.
Facilities at YHA Snowdon, Pen-Y-Pass
The YHA at Pen-Y-Pass caters for everyone and has everything you could need in a hostel. There is a large, well-equipped kitchen and dining area, with two large fridges, and plenty of storage, so you can bring meals and prepare food. I made good use of this kitchen during my stay, Although the hostel was busy, the kitchen was never too crowded, and with 4 gas hobs, there was always a place for me to cook.
Restaraunt and Bar
If you are too lazy/don’t want to cook, there is a fully licenced bar and restaurant, serving delicious home cooked meals, drinks and snacks. The hot chocolate and cake is yummy.
In the mornings, you can opt to have a fully cooked breakfast for just £5.25, which is a bargain and it will set you up for your hike up Snowdon.
As well as a laundry room, with washing machines and dryers, there is also a drying room, where you can chuck your wet gear from the mountain. It has a dehumidifier, and so you’re gear will be dry in no time.
During my stay, I really enjoyed talking to some of the staff, who themselves have been on a number of adventures and travelled a lot. I found everyone friendly, and all of the staff had a lot of local knowledge, and can suggest many other things to do in the area, other than climb up Snowdon. There are maps available if you are going for a bit of a walk, and the staff like guests to make a statement of intention if you are going out for a wander up the big hill.
WiFi and Phone Signal
Due to its location, there is no phone signal, or WiFi within the hostel, which for me was pretty awesome, as I am constantly online, hashtagging, blogging and editing photographs. So the two days that I spent in Snowdon, when I was not connected to the online World, made me feel much more connected to the real World
If you absolutely must have a signal, internet or really need to use your phone, you can head down to Nant Peris, which is a good 30-minute walk own the road. There is a pub which has phone signal and free WiFi. The larger town of Llanberis will also provide this for you, if you need to nip out for more supplies.
Things to pack when staying at YHA Snowdon Pen-Y-Pass
- A towel (otherwise these cost £2 to rent)
- Food to cook up in the kitchen
- A padlock for the lockers in the room
- A sense of adventure!
I had a wonderful time staying at the YHA Snowdon, Pen-Y-Pass. The YHA Brand is somewhere that I would choose to stay over many others, particularly as it is a charity. So whether you are 25 or 65, staying at a YHA is always a good idea. I’d highly recommend this hostel if you are heading over to conquer the highest mountain in Wales.
Address: Pen-y-Pass, Nantgwynant, Caernarfon, Gwynedd, LL55 4NY
Phone: +44 845 371 9534