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9 unusual hostels and bunkhouses in Scotland

Amy Robertson - View Comments

Feeling adventurous? Want a holiday to remember with memorable places to stay? Then it’s definitely time to start planning a hostelling trip around Scotland! Amongst the many great hostels and bunkhouses across the country, you’ll find ones that have a dash of quirkiness and something just a little bit special about them. Here’s just a few which are bound to leave a lasting impression:

1. Am Bothan Bunkhouse
Isle of Harris, Outer Hebrides

You’ll adore the colourful interiors of this cheery Harris hostel. The communal area will bring a smile to your face, with its distinctive nautical theme, brightly painted walls and laid-back atmosphere. Perhaps you’ll stay a night or two whilst discovering Harris’s beautiful beaches, or as you follow the Hebridean Way Cycle Route?

2. Belford Hostel
Edinburgh

Stained glass windows? High vaulted ceilings? You guessed it – Belford Hostel is housed in a former church. The striking red sandstone building dates from the 19th century and is ideal for the backpacker after a heavenly slumber. Sitting near Edinburgh’s West End, many of the city’s great attractions are within easy walking distance, as well as hidden gems such as the pretty Dean Village and the underground Edinburgh Gin Distillery.

3. Gearrannan Hostel
Isle of Lewis, Outer Hebrides

When you arrive at Gearrannan Hostel, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped out of a time machine. With drystone walls and a thatched roof, the building is a traditional 19th century island blackhouse, once inhabited by Leòdhasach (Gaelic for a Lewis local) Duncan McLeod. Inside, find plenty of homely comforts, making it the perfect place to snuggle down for the night after uncovering prehistoric sites, exploring long coastlines and soaking up Gaelic culture.

4. Gatliff Hebridean Hostels Trust
Outer Hebrides

The Gatliff Hostels are not one but three hostels, dotted about remote locations in the Outer Hebrides. Howmore lies in South Uist, Berneray in North Uist and Rhenigidale in Harris. Each has been converted from a small traditional croft house. With bags of charm, a strong sense of community and beautiful peaceful settings, the Gatliff Hostels should be at the top of the list for anyone seeking a true island escape.

5. Glenfinnan Station Museum Sleeping Car
Lochaber, Highlands

All aboard for a unique hostelling experience! Built in the 1950s, this sleeping car no longer travels along the tracks – instead, you can go on a journey to the land of dreams! It’s an ideal stopover for anyone exploring the Highlands via public transport, with Glenfinnan Viaduct and the Glenfinnan Monument nearby, and Mallaig and the ferry to Skye located at the end of the West Highland railway line.

6. Lazy Duck Hostel
Aviemore, Highlands

Image credit: JC Unda

Could this be the cutest hostel in the world?! This mountain-hut like Lazy Duck is perfect for a back-to-nature experience. Sleeping up to just eight people, it boasts a charming covered garden with a few unusual flourishes, including a bird and red squirrel feeder and log fire. When you’re not out and about enjoying adventure activities near Aviemore, wind down in the wood-fired hot tub and dry-heat sauna.

7. Loch Ossian Youth Hostel
Rannoch Moor, Highlands

It’s hard to say what we love the most about Loch Ossian Youth Hostel – is it the dramatic, remote location or the fact that it’s wonderfully eco-friendly?  For starters, the hostel is only accessible by rail, bike or foot. Wind turbines and solar panels create its electricity, it’s got composting toilets and should you need a fridge, then look no further than the loch! Loch Ossian Youth Hostel is an ideal place to rest if you are bagging a couple of the surrounding Munros.

8. Rowardennan Lodge Youth Hostel
Loch Lomond

Situated on those bonnie, bonnie banks of Loch Lomond, this one makes the list because how many hostels do you know that have their own jetty?! Rowardennan Lodge is a perfect base for anyone wanting to discover Scotland’s first National Park. With loch access, there are great opportunities for water-based activities such as kayaking and the surrounding majestic mountains are ideal for rewarding hikes.

9. Sleeperzzz Hostel
Sutherland, Highlands

Yes, it’s true – there’s more than one option for locomotive-style hostelling in Scotland. At Sleeperzzz, set by a working railway, there are four different types of carriage, so you can be choo-choo-choosey! With castles, whisky distilleries, mountain bike trails and waterfalls with leaping salmon nearby, there’s plenty to tire you out before you enjoy a first-class sleep.

So what are you waiting for? Find out more about Scotland’s hostels and bunkhouses on our dedicated hostel pages, or take a look at our lovely new interactive online accommodation guide. Happy hostelling!