Scottish Youth Hostels Association

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Scottish Youth Hostels Association
Comann Osdailean Òigridh na h-Alba
SYHA Logo (red triangle incorporating the initials SYHA)
Abbreviation SYHA Hostelling Scotland
Formation 1931 (1931)
Type Scottish Charity SC013138
Legal status Company limited by guarantee SC310841
Purpose Accommodation and advancement of education[1]
Headquarters Stirling
Region served
Individuals, families, larger groups
Official language
English, Gaelic
David Calder
Chief Executive
Keith Legge
Affiliations Hostelling International

The Scottish Youth Hostels Association (SYHA; Gaelic: Comann Osdailean Òigridh na h-Alba), founded in 1931, is part of Hostelling International and provides youth hostel accommodation in Scotland. It has 23,000 current members,[citation needed] and 60% of guests come from outwith Scotland.[1]

"SYHA’s purpose is to provide the advancement of education for the public benefit by helping all, but especially young people, to experience Scotland’s natural heritage and places of historic and cultural interest. We aim to provide and maintain Youth Hostels in a diverse range of locations to enable visitors from home and overseas to visit some of the most glorious parts of Scotland."[1]

The current hostel guide and website lists nearly 70 hostels, 25% of which are independently owned affiliate hostels[citation needed] such as those of the Gatliff Hebridean Hostel Trust and various local communities and authorities. Hostels vary from modern purpose-built premises to historic buildings and country cottages, sited in major towns and cities and in rural locations, including remote islands.

Accommodation is generally dormitory-style but increasingly this is being subdivided into smaller units. For example, the most modern hostel, Edinburgh Central, has many single and twin-bedded rooms with ensuite facilities. All have a lounge/sitting room, shared bathrooms and self-catering kitchens. Many hostels provide meals at request.

The SYHA is a self-funding charitable organisation, and as a not-for-profit business invests all surplus back into the organisation, both to develop the network and to improve older hostels. Today it faces strong competition from the more numerous independent hostels, and from rural hotels which provide bunkhouse accommodation. Changing demand and limited resources have led to the closure of hostels which had been failing to attract visitors, but hostels nowadays provide facilities undreamt of in the more spartan days of half a century or more ago. Hostels now provide comfortable, warm accommodation in both dorm and private rooms. The SYHA has made a point of maintaining excellent communal facilities in self-catering kitchens and lounges while removing older rules such as chores and no-alcohol.

It has been claimed that it has left its roots as a working class movement to "provide accommodation to people of limited means" behind, and become too expensive. The SYHA's defenders, including Allan Wilson MSP, point out that hostellers today require higher levels of comfort than when the hostelling movement began.[2]

Hostels: past and present[edit]

Youth hostel road sign.svg


  1. ^ a b c "About SYHA | SYHA Hostelling Scotland". Retrieved 2013-10-16. 
  2. ^ "motion S1M-1829 Official report 9 May 2001". Scottish Parliament. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 

Source material[edit]

  • Martin, John (2012). An Illustrated Survey of SYHA's Youth Hostels 1931-2011. Stirling: SYHA. 

External links[edit]