The original bunkhouses and camping barns were simple shelters for outdoor enthusiasts with few facilities provided and little or no heating. Since then many modern well equipped Bunkhouses have been built and the term Bunkhouse is now used by both styles of accommodation. If the place you are looking at has “ Simple” status then be prepared for the basic form of accommodation.
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This is a very broad title and one which could cover every type of accommodation on this website. The thing which makes a hostel different to a bed and breakfast or hotel is that there is some type of communal aspect to some of the facilities so you can stay in a hostel as an individual and have a chat with those around you. No need to dine alone.
A typical hostel can be pictured as having dormitories but many will also have private rooms. It is safe to say that any place with hostel in the name will provide self catering facilities and some kind of social area (dining room/lounge) to relax in. A typical hostel would be in a house as opposed to a barn, although I do know of ones in barns, factories, warehouses and lighthouses. A hostel will welcome outdoor enthusiasts and international travellers, the clientel depending a lot on location. A hostel is available to individuals but may also be hired as sole use to a group. Expect to pay from £17 per night in a dormitory, from £30 for a private room. Generally all bedding and linen is provided, but bring your own towel and toiletries.
Bunkhouse (or Bunk Barn)
A bunkhouse is most likely to be a barn conversion. It is also going to cater mostly for outdoor enthusiasts, with sole-use bookings from groups quite common. A bunkhouse will be self-contained with toilets, showers, cooking and dining facilities. Sleeping will be in dorms or private rooms and you will need to enquire whether you need your own sleeping bag. Depending on how recent the conversion, bunkhouses can be very swish with under-floor heating and private rooms, or more traditional with cold floors and solid fuel stove (or a mixture of both). Bunkhouses are ideal for groups and those with several 4/6 bed ensuite rooms can be great for gatherings of families. Typically a bunkhouse will have between 12 and 35 beds, although sometimes larger groups can be accommodated when two adjacent conversions are available to be booked together. A swish bunkhouse will charge from £15 to £20pp, a traditional bunkhouse from £10.
A bunkhouse is not to be confused with a bunkroom. Bunkrooms are often outbuildings attached to a pub where low cost accommodation is provided in bunks. Bunkrooms generally have their own toilet/showers but no kitchen or place to socialise. The idea is that all eating, drinking and socialising take place in the adjacent pub. Between 6 to 15 beds is typical with charges from £12 to £18pp.
A Backpackers Hostel is hostel style accommodation which is aimed at the independent traveller. Typically they are used by the young and international backpacker, doing Europe in their gap year. Some of the city backpackers are very cosmopolitan and are promoted as 'party places' with the guest returning to the dorms early in the morning after exploring the city’s nightlife. Less central backpackers will have more conventional hours. Most backpackers hostels will have dormitories, private rooms and self catering facilities. In some cases where a free breakfast is supplied and there are lots of local eateries, the self catering facilities can be very minimal. Prices vary from £12 to £18pp in the dorms. There will be an emphasis on guest socialising, with common areas, internet facilities and often an in-house bar and travel desk. The number of beds range from around 24 to over 800. Backpackers hostels are used by groups, but you are more likely to find individual travellers and it is rare that the whole hostel is hired out in sole use.
This is very basic accommodation often known as a stone tent. There will be no bedding and often only a hard sleeping shelf. The guest will need to bring a sleeping bag and sometimes a sleeping mat too. It is also quite common for the food preparation area to have no cooker or utensils; again the camper is required to bring their own. Camping barns are very rural and sometime so remote they have no electricity. Aimed at the walker who might walk from barn to barn, these barns are ideal for groups of outdoor enthusiasts booking sole use, and because they are often small (from 6 beds) and cheap (from £8pp per night) they can also be surprising fun for families.
Group Accommodation Centres
Although every hostel on this website would be delighted to accommodate a group, this category is unique in that they will not accept individuals and minimum group sizes are specified. Group accommodation centres are often outdoor centres but they can also be large houses operated by a trust. They are different to holiday-lets in that they provide much better value (from £10pp) and generally have less expensive decor. Also there is always the possibility of dormitories which would not be expected in a holiday let. Group accommodation centres always have catering facilities and in many cases the managers will organise the catering for your group. They often provide outdoor activities and other courses or training. Group accommodation centres can have up to 90 beds.
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