Hostels are a popular budget alternative to hotels and B&Bs. They have very low-cost beds in shared dormitory-style rooms aimed at backpackers, but many modern hostels also have private rooms, sometimes with ensuite bathrooms and hotel-level comforts, and so can also be a good option for families. Some have bars and offer meals. Today the main difference from budget hotels is that hostels are more sociable, with shared facilities such as internet lounges or kitchens for guests’ use, and often organise activities. Facilities vary a lot between hostels, so check when booking.
In most British cities there is now a choice of hostels, from simple, clean good-value ones to stylish "hip hostels". The Youth Hostels Association is the largest association in the UK, but many independent hostels are not part of the YHA, and can be found through www.hostelworld.com or www.independenthostels.co.uk. Many YHA country hostels are in beautiful locations and have special facilities for walking, cycling, climbing and so on, which make them a great choice for an outdoor vacation.
Content provided by DK Eyewitness Travel Guides (www.traveldk.com)