Highlights

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Good news for owners of the European Youth Card! We have secured a permanent 10% discount on night in all CYHA hostels!

Sleep again in one of the Croatian Youth Hostel Association hostels and we will reward your loyalty with 10% off!

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The modern noble hosteller
Within the Hostelling International hostel network there are many hostels opened in castles, palaces and manors. Goran Beus-Richembergh, HI development coordinator, provides an interesting story about this unique places to stay.

First hostel in the World - YH Altena Castle, Germany

The very first permanent Youth Hostel in the World was Altena Castle, situated in North Rhine – Westphalia. Built in 12th century as the official site of the Counts of Mark (the junior line of the Counts of Berg and Isenberg), the castle witnessed a long and rich German history. Since becoming a Youth Hostel, Altena Castle has been the starting point of the international movement, which has now spread to all continents.

Nowadays, there are numerous hostels, particularly in Europe, situated in castles, palaces and manors, offering a special and unique atmosphere, in places created centuries ago for noble people that are now affordable for the modern noble traveller.

Some say that nobility is more an attitude, rather than something we are born with. Therefore HI members, who are travelling to enjoy ”greater knowledge, love and care of the countryside and an appreciation of the cultural values of towns and cities in all parts of the world” visiting the hostels “in which there shall be no distinctions of race, nationality, colour, religion, sex, class or political opinions and thereby to develop a better understanding of their fellow men, both at home and abroad”, are truly noble people in the modern sense of the word.

The International Conference in 1946, took place at Carbisdale Castle in Scotland.  Wikipedia reports that this famous Scottish castle, built by the Duchess of Sutherland, was a safe refuge for King Haakon VII of Norway and Crown Prince Olav, who would later become King Olav V, during the Nazi occupation of Norway in World War II. In June 1945 the Castle became a Youth Hostel and still welcomes hostellers worldwide today. 

Youth Hostel Carbisdale Castle, Scotland
Youth Hostel Carbisdale Castle, Scotland

Some of the hostels in England and Wales are situated in old manors or palaces.  The London Earl’s Court YH building, for example, was originally built for members of the Royal Family) but the St Briavel’s Castle Hostel in Gloucestershire is also very special, with about 70 beds in a building that dates back to the 13th century.

The German Youth Hostel Association (DJH) runs dozens of hostels, situated in beautiful old castles or palaces.  Augustusburg, Bilstein, Breuberg, Monschau, Ortenberg, Thallichtenberg and Wewelsburg are just some of the more famous ones. By using these buildings as hostels, DJH keeps the historical buildings full of life, compared to all the centuries when these castles were exclusive places, far from the public eye. 

Youth Hostel Wewelsburg, Germany
Youth Hostel Wewelsburg, Germany

Some years ago, when I slept in one of these great places I met a hosteller from the USA, who was amazed by the concept of having hostels in such grand places. “It is very clever way if you want to promote national heritage to young people but also to protect it from being destroyed”, he said. “Keeping the castles as museums could be too bland, but sleeping and eating there is a much better way to really feel the history” , he added. 

There are also lot of castles in Transylvania, Romania, the home of Count Vlad Tepes, otherwise known as Dracula. In the heart of very famous town of Sighisoara, one of the seven cities built by Saxonian knights in the Middle Age, you can find The Burg Hostel, situated in a very old Tower from the 14th century.

Burg Hostel Sighisoara, Romania
Burg Hostel Sighisoara, Romania

If you’re looking for an extraordinary atmosphere you can find this in Cesky Krumlov, an old town in Czech Republic, protected by UNESCO. The castle above the town, built by Rosenbergs but later owned by Habsburgs and Schwarzenbergs, is the biggest Baroque castle in Europe and is an absolute must-see. The hostel (Travellers Hostel) is not on the hill itself but in the middle of the medieval town, surrounded by the river of Vltava, in the old palace built in 12th century.  It’s truly an amazing place to visit and sleep! 

Youth Hostel Aaugustusburg, Germany
Youth Hostel Aaugustusburg, Germany 

All of the 4,000 HI hostels in the World are unique places with their own style and atmosphere, giving you a real feeling of the region, the country, the culture and the people you visit.  That is what I like and prefer, instead of the “factories” out there, each one looking like another, where you can’t feel or even recognise where you really are. 

Youth Hostel Burg Bilstein, Germany
Youth Hostel Burg Bilstein, Germany

The hostels situated in old manors, palaces and castles are truly special among our HI hostels. They have their own stories and tales, created by some famous, great men and unknown generations of distinguished families who have lived there for centuries. 

So go and visit these places andstep into their history with your good will. If you meet some ghosts along the way, don’t worry, they are there just to keep you safe and to remind you of the people who have walked the halls before you.

Youth Hostel Monschau Burg, Germany
Youth Hostel Monschau Burg, Germany

 

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