Scottish Youth Hostels Association

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.[2] As of 2013, around 60% of its guests come from outwith Scotland.[1]

As of 2016, the hostel guide and website lists over 60 hostels,[2] 28 of which are independently owned affiliate hostels 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.[3]

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.[4]

Hostels: past and present

In 1938, there were more than 60 hostels and membership was approaching 20,000.[5] At their highest point, the SHYA had 99 hostels, by 1995 this had reduced to 85.[6]


  1. 1 2 "About SYHA | SYHA Hostelling Scotland". Archived from the original on 2013-04-10. Retrieved 2013-10-16.
  2. 1 2 "About SYHA". SYHA Hostelling Scotland. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  3. SYHA Hostel Guide 2016, Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  4. "motion S1M-1829 Official report 9 May 2001". Scottish Parliament. Retrieved 21 December 2014.
  5. "Youth Hostels in Scotland". The Glasgow Herald. 16 June 1938. p. 10. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  6. Hume, George (22 July 1995). "Youth hostels pack up their troubles". The Herald. Glasgow. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  7. "Ferniehurst Castle". Canmore. 25 May 1932. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  8. 1 2 "Dunselma, Strone. Listed Building Report". 1988-02-02. Retrieved 2012-04-05.

Source material

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