Littlehouse Media

Celebrating 90 years of Scottish hostelling

Hostelling Scotland [Scottish Youth Hostels Association], today (13 February 2021), celebrates its 90th birthday.  To mark this major milestone the self-funded charity is introducing all babies born in the month of February 2021 to the wonderful world of hostelling by offering them a free lifetime membership (worth £150).

‘Young lady Hostellers from St Andrews’

Since 1931, the organisation’s mission has been to make more of Scotland more accessible to more people, especially young people, which is as relevant today as it was then.  The new, young lifetime members can look forward to a future of travel with friends and family, staying in great value, affordable, flexible and welcoming hostel accommodation in some of the best locations throughout Scotland.

Hostellers gathered around the stove at Crianlarich Youth Hostel

Margo Paterson, CEO of Hostelling Scotland said: ‘As we reflect on our most challenging year since 1931 and celebrate being 90 years young, we are determined that 2021 will be a year of positivity and hope, celebrating our hostelling family’s past, present, and future.

‘Hostelling Scotland is delighted to enable a new generation of hosteller to experience travel and adventure across this beautiful country of ours, exploring new places, making memories and friendships to last a lifetime. Any child born in February 2021 is eligible for a free lifetime membership, which includes loads of additional member benefits. All you have to do is sign them up on our website before 31 March 2021.’

Margo Paterson

Like the young hostellers of the 1930’s, the new lifetime members (and their families) will have the freedom to learn about Scotland visiting places of historic and cultural interest and explore its stunning countryside, environment and natural heritage.  They will be able to take advantage of the many additional benefits, from retail and visitor attraction discounts to exclusive member promotions. When the world opens up again, they will also have access to more than 4,000 hostels in many countries around the world with dual membership of Hostelling International.

Hostelling Scotland prides itself on being the largest participant in the youth hostel market in Scotland. As a membership organisation with over 8,000 lifetime members, it has 33 youth hostels and 27 affiliate hostels.  In recent years the network has welcomed up to 380,000 guests annually with a turnover of £9M and an estimated annual contribution to the Scottish visitor economy of £25M. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the organisation incredibly hard, the worst crisis it has faced since it was established in 1931.  An 89% drop in annual operational income has resulted in a massive swing from a £1.4M operational surplus in 2019 to a £2M operational loss in 2020.

Margo Paterson added: ‘2020 has been the most challenging year in the organisation’s history but we feel confident there is light at the end of the tunnel. We are delighted and thankful for all the messages of support and as we recover from this crisis, we look forward to welcoming our guests to our youth hostels once again when the time is right and it is safe to do so.’


Media contact:

Paddy Cuthbert | Littlehouse Media | E: [email protected] | M: 07913 951717

Images attached – Historical photos and graphics and renovated hostels

For more downloadable hire images go to

Useful links:

Hostelling Scotland –

Hostelling Scotland on Twitter – #ourplaceisyours

Hostelling Scotland on Facebook –

Hostelling Scotland on Instagram –

Hostelling Scotland on LinkedIn –

Notes to Editors:

Hostelling Scotland Membership

Life Members of Hostelling Scotland enjoy a range of exclusive benefits including:

  • Explore Scotland and save money every time you stay.
  • Save £30 on all RentaHostel, exclusive private hire bookings.
  • Gain access to +4,000 hostels around the world with dual membership of Hostelling International.
  • Take advantage of exclusive ‘members only’ promotions.
  • Enjoy a range of membership benefits, from discounted admission to visitor attractions to savings at retail outlets and travel services across Scotland.
  • Monthly E-Newsletter for latest news, events and special offers
  • A MyHostellingScotland account which enables members to manage their membership details online. Once you have your membership number, create your MyHostellingScotland account for exclusive access.
  • Make new friends through hostelling – you might want to join one of our Members’ Groups.
  • As if this wasn’t enough, your support will

Membership and guest overnight income supports Hostelling Scotland’s charitable youth programmes and the maintenance of the hostelling network; helping to give children, young people and families, who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity, a chance to explore Scotland through our youth, volunteer and community programmes.

Youth and Community programmes

As a charity Hostelling Scotland is committed to ensuring that everyone can discover Scotland.  One of their core objectives is to the advancement of education, for the public benefit, by helping all, but especially young people, to experience and appreciate the Scottish countryside, environment, natural heritage and places of historic and cultural interest in Scotland, and through the promotion of their health, recreation and education, particularly by providing low-cost accommodation for them on their travels.

Hostelling Scotland’s charitable youth programmes, an important element of their work, give young people and families, who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity, the chance to experience Scotland and develop their skills for life, learning and work. The programmes support a diverse range of groups and individuals.

Youth and community projects include:

Festive Fun project (launched 2019) –

Explorer Fund (launched in 2018) and Mini Explorer Fund –

Respitality Breaks (2017) in partnership with partnership with Respitality –

ScotSpirit Breaks programme (supported since 2016) –

Braw Buildings in partnership with Scottish Civic Trust’s Doors Open Days –

Hostelling Scotland also runs work experience programmes for school and college students, supporting ‘Developing The Young Workforce’ (DYW), a Scottish Government initiative to better prepare children and young people for the world of work.

About Hostelling Scotland

Hostelling Scotland is a self-funding charity operating a network of nearly 60 exceptional youth and affiliate hostels for the benefit of all those wishing to learn and experience what Scotland has to offer. Their unique sites provide affordable, comfortable, safe and quality-assured accommodation with a warm friendly welcome, local knowledge, activities and services for guests travelling around Scotland.

Following a strategic review of the organisation, early in 2018, the much-loved hostelling accommodation provider is now known as Hostelling Scotland. The new identity follows on from extensive marketing research and reflects the organisation’s commitment to understanding the needs of its members, guests and employees as the modern face of Scottish Hostelling.  The name also more clearly indicates its representation of Hostelling International within Scotland.

Both the changes in trading name and logo highlight a commitment to ensuring Scotland’s leading hostelling organisation remains relevant in the modern context.

Network modernisation programme

Despite current UK and international travel restrictions Hostelling Scotland is perfectly set up to welcome back a new generation of hosteller and adventure tourist keen to explore what is on their own doorstep.

The charity’s vision is to ensure that it remains the principle hostelling organisation of choice in Scotland through the provision of a sustainable, modern, high quality affordable accommodation network that meets the needs of today’s hostellers.  It has had a longstanding commitment to listening to and understanding its members, guests and employees which has resulted in the most radical period of modernisation of the network, together with a business re-brand and name change that reflects the modern face of Scottish hostelling. 

In the last 5 years, £7.2 million has been invested in renovation and refurbishment projects across the networkcreating exciting contemporary living spaces with cosy private, en-suite and family rooms that sit comfortably alongside the more traditional shared dormitory-style accommodation. In many youth hostels food and drink is available to purchase for those who are less keen on getting into the kitchen, and improved facilities such as free wi-fi, drying rooms, laundry facilities and secure bike storage are offered.

There are now 14 dog friendly ‘WoofHostels’, perfectly set up for visitors looking to holiday with their pet; and the organisation continues to offer exclusive private rentals – RentaHostel. 

Recent modernisation projects include:

  • The renovation of Oban Youth Hostel
  • The Renovation of Lochranza Youth Hostel, Isle of Arran
  • Development projects at Loch Ossian and Achmelvich Beach
  • The purchase and renovation of Portree Youth Hostel, Isle of Skye
  • The renovation of Aberdeen Youth Hostel
  • The major redevelopment of Glen Nevis Youth Hostel, Fort William
  • The renovation of Inverness Youth Hostel
  • The renovation Edinburgh Central Youth Hostel
  • The renovation of Cairngorm Lodge Youth Hostel (in progress)

History – The Early Years

Over the last 90 years, Hostelling Scotland has made a significant contribution to Scottish history, not only in its social development but more importantly, the impact it has had on the lives of countless individuals, both old and young, through their experiences of using their hostels. In the early days, hostelling provided a great opportunity for people, many of whom wouldn’t normally have had the chance, to escape the crowded cities and their unhealthy environments, get outside and discover the natural wonders that Scotland has to offer – often on their doorsteps.

In the early years, the typical hosteller was a hardy individual or one of a small group of friends discovering Scotland by slogging from one hostel to the next by bike or foot. During and after the war came the enlargement of premises to cope with city youth group cycling weekends, school parties, and an increasingly leisured society. Motor tourism followed and from the 1960’s individual hostels started providing activities and tuition in mountaineering, pony trekking, sailing, and skiing.

You Might Also Like

The Ultra Tour of Arran, a big draw for international adventure tourists

Fort William Mountain Festival back to a live, multi-venue event in 2022

Nevis Range to turn back the clock to 1989 to celebrate 30 years of adventure

Fort William – the perfect cruise destination

Young volunteers wanted to run IRONKIDS Scotland running events

Lochaber community is pulling together to give Nevis Range a lift after lockdown!

The ultimate runners’ sightseeing tour of Edinburgh returns

Fort William has all the Mòd cons

Go Swim Loch Lomond – a new open water event for Scotland

Start your Highland biking adventure at the new Nevis Range Bike School

POC headline sponsor for Scottish Enduro Series for sixth year

OCUK unveil their new branded gondola at Nevis Range

Frazer Coupland appointed Chair of The Highland Tourism Partnership

Dunkirk – The Untold Story of The Royal Scots

National Funding Boost for Cream o’ the Croft and The Eliminator

Becoming a Conscious Host: Carbon Neutrality and Beyond

‘Connect To Your Adventure!’ – big success in just 7 weeks

SYHA Hostelling Scotland assist in a Recovery Version

Millburn Academy ensures a warm welcome to Inverness Youth Hostel

Run Scotland in two days with the new Ultra Tour of Arran

Nevis Range team up with Endura

Media Advisory – UK’s highest Shinty match to promote tourism in Lochaber

Elite mountain bike racer, Mikayla Parton, wins Youth Mountain Award

Danny MacAskill launches video, ‘Danny Daycare’. Best ‘uncle’ ever?

Two Scottish youth hostels celebrate landmark anniversaries

Nevis Range and Trek renew commercial partnership for 2019/20

Scottish Enduro Series confirms POC as headline sponsor for fifth year

New look Edinburgh Central Youth Hostel, new era of hostelling in the Capital

Young ‘Fifers’ invited to collaborate in Eliminator Bike Festival

ITV4 to screen every minute of OVO Energy Tour of Britain live

‘What would Mary do?’ at the Fort William Mountain Festival

SKI-AN-DURO, a new ski and mountain bike Enduro for Scotland

Lochaber Ideas Week returns to Fort William after a two-year covid hiatus

Changing times at Nevis Range Mountain Experience!

Noel Williams wins 2019 Scottish Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture

Edinburgh’s Electric Cycle Company has been supercharged

Media Advisory – 500 runners to tame Edinburgh with the inaugural Ultra Tour

SYHA opens new summer youth hostel in Edinburgh

Scran Café – Youth powered café launched by Scran Academy

Hot water on tap for Loch Ossian Youth Hostel

Hostelling Scotland opens four summer youth hostels in 2018

OATS in search of a Fairy Pool of staff

SYHA partners with Ayrshire College for valuable volunteer experience

Epic Halloween tale of ‘Ned vs Monster’ in the Outdoor Capital

Nevis Range partner with Disability Snowsport UK for Winter 18/19

Figurehead environmental campaigner, Dave Morris, wins top mountain award

Developing for the future at Nevis Range!

Keith Legge, CEO of SYHA Hostelling Scotland, steps down after 13 years

Planning on holidaying at home? Give hostelling a go!

Dr Liz Cameron, Scotland’s voice of business, to headline women’s networking lunch

Visit Moray Speyside launches their biggest ever UK marketing campaign

Are you hard enough to take on The Double Stalker?

Lochaber’s ‘Connect to Your Adventure’ digital marketing campaign, a huge success

SYHA collaborates with Glasgow Caledonian University

Hostelling Scotland to temporarily close Youth Hostel network

Edinburgh’s Electric Cycle Company is being supercharged

One Lochaber Leadership Programme to be launched at Lochaber Ideas Week

Business Community Programme launched for Lochaber Ideas Week 2018

A muckin’ great Audax, perfect for Cream o’ the Croft road cyclists

Paul Merton Visits SYHA’s Loch Ossian Hostel – Paul Merton’s Secret Stations

Enduro riders, prepare yourselves for a Highland Clan battle!

Nevis Range and Trek renew commercial partnership for 2020/21

Nevis Range looks forward to reopening in July

‘Death Zone’ mountaineer, Nirmal Purja, to headline Fort William Mountain Festival 2020

Entries open for SKI-AN-DURO, Scotland’s new ski and mountain bike Enduro

Nevis Range moving forward with interim CEO Rod Pashley

The new Pentland Trail Centre – The future for Edinburgh biking

‘A Meeting of Minds 2’ celebrates innovation in Scotland’s aquaculture sector

Lochaber Tourism Summit 2019, a must-attend event for Highland tourism businesses

Hostelling Scotland, a new brand identity unveiled

Scran Academy reach 100,000 essential meals delivery milestone

‘A Meeting of Minds’ – An online event to celebrate Scotland’s aquaculture sector

IRONKIDS activity programmes promote healthy and active lifestyles – SUN, FUN, RUN!

Finance and Economy Secretary, Kate Forbes, opens car park and off-grid toilets at Skye’s Iconic Fairy Pools

Nevis Range, Scotland’s highest snowsports destination, open for business

VisitScotland’s Lord Thurso to deliver The Charles Kennedy Memorial Lecture

Margo Paterson appointed as CEO of SYHA Hostelling Scotland

Young heroes wanted for aerial dance workshops in the Easter holidays

Lochaber’s Nevis Range becomes an accredited Living Wage employer

Scottish Climbing Instructor, Tim Miller, wins Youth Mountain Culture Award

Top award for World renowned Scottish landscape photographer, Colin Prior

Rob Cochrane wins 2019 Scottish Youth Award for Excellence in Mountain Culture

Video series to showcase apprenticeships in the West Highlands launched

New European partnership to upskill adventure tourism in five countries

IRONKIDS Scotland – 3,000 kids to take part in global running series

The UK’s first waymarked gravel cycling trails opened near Aberfoyle

Nevis Range is making it snow all season long!

Loch Ossian and Torridon Youth Hostels shortlisted in TGO Reader Awards

Chris O’Brien appointed Destination Manager for the Outdoor Capital of the UK

Gold and Silver gongs for Torridon and Loch Ossian Youth Hostels in TGO Reader Awards

Three female adventurers to take on epic 1936 cycling trip

SYHA Hostelling Scotland – building Scottish hostelling for the future

An appetite for adventure in the North West Highlands

300 Dutch adventurers to run, bike and kayak across Scotland

120 young people from Edinburgh create multi-artform production during Covid

Fort William Mountain Festival 2021 goes Covid-19 safe

Lochaber Tourism Day with Cal Mac – Debate, Engage, Network

Young event assistants invited to join the IRONKIDS Scotland event team

New Lochaber website aiming high

SYHA appoints Lois Marshall as Youth & Volunteer Engagement Manager

Big Biking October – two International bike events for the Outdoor Capital

Haggis from Scotland’s first free-range Haggis farm goes on sale in Lochaber

Gravelfoyle – Gravel Cycling at the heart of Aberfoyle’s new tourism brand

Videos highlight the benefits of apprenticeships in the West Highlands

Victory Over Japan Day 2020 – The Royal Scots commemorate their fallen comrades from the Far-East Conflict

Former Farrier, Matthew Jackson, appointed Chair of DYW West Highland

Nevis Range and Trek announce a partnership for 2018/19

Coast to Coast – run, bike ride and kayak 105 miles across Scotland

#myoutdoorcapital – OCUK to put visitors firmly in the frame

Crieff antique dealer unearths rare Rolex ‘MilSub’ dive watch worth £120,000

100th Birthday of Scottish World War 2 Defence of Dunkirk Veteran (Royal Scots)

Run Scotland on The Ultra Tour of Arran

Route announcement confirmed for HSBC City Ride in Edinburgh

Outdoor Capital Activities and Attractions Expo open for tourism business

Summer Youth Hostel Returns to Glasgow

Get your adventure challenge on with Project: Explore

Youth development key to Edinburgh Central’s 10th Anniversary

Inverness Youth Hostel gets a fresh new look

Scran Academy on ‘foodwill’ tour of Edinburgh

Media Advisory – Images – The Ultra Tour of Edinburgh

New hydro scheme powers Scottish mountain resort

Young people invited to collaborate in Muckin’ good summer festivals

The Cream of Enduro will rise to the top at Comrie Croft

Glen Nevis Youth Hostel re-opens after major redevelopment project

Midlothian ‘zero carbon’ office development seeks Planning in Principle

Discover Scotland’s ‘Braw Buildings’ with Hostelling Scotland

Sporting legend Gavin Hastings to inspire Lochaber at Ideas Week 2017

Immerse yourself in Lochaber Ideas Week 2019

SYHA’s Glasgow Metro youth hostel awarded 3 stars by VisitScotland

Edinburgh’s Electric Cycle Company sees 80% rise in Lockdown sales

Hostelling Scotland begins phased opening of Youth Hostel network

Hostelling Scotland fully open for business after two years

People are at the heart of SYHA Hostelling Scotland!

Jura, the Border Collie, trains to become the first Ski Patrol rescue dog at Nevis Range