On the 13th February 1931 a conference was held to form a Scottish Youth Hostels Association. Early in SYHA history a typical hosteller was a hardy individual or part of a small group of friends looking to discover Scotland from one youth hostel to the next.

After the war many of the properties had to be enlarged or reconfigured to cope with youth and school groups and an increasingly leisured society. Motoring amongst hosteller was also becoming increasingly popular - lifestyles were changing and SYHA had to adapt to new challenges.

Fast forward 85 years, one World War, many advances in technology, more than 34 million bednights, visits from Royalty, a Class 37 diesel locomotive named "The Scottish Hosteller" and even matrimonial advice in handbooks! Although hostelling expectations have changed, SYHA's ethos is still the same: providing low cost accommodation for all, especially young people, wishing to learn about and experience what Scotland has to offer.

Did you know?

To celebrate this milestone in Scottish hostelling history we're looking back at five facts about SYHA...

1. From it's opening in June 1992, Glasgow Youth Hostel pioneered a fax system for making international bookings. 

2. A Class 37 diesel locomotive was named "The Scottish Hosteller" by the late author and broadcaster Tom Weir in 1986 as a friendly link between the railway and the thousands of members who travel throughout Scotland each year.

3. For many years Cairngorm Youth Hostel, or Loch Morlich as it was known at the time, was at the epicentre of SYHA formal ski tuition. The image below shows an eager group outside the youth hostel with skis in hand, ready to hit the slopes for the day.

4. HRH the Duke of Edinburgh visited Cairngorm Lodge in May 1961 and later attended the opening of Pitlochry Youth Hostel in 1981 (pictured).

5. Gairloch Sands, with its distinctive high-pitched (and originally red-tiled roof), was designed by George Corson (1829-1910), a Scottish architect responsible for fine public buildings in Leeds, including the Grand Theatre.

Thank you for all of your support over the last 85 years - we're very excited to see what the future holds for SYHA Hostelling Scotland...

Hear what our Chairman, board members and CEO have to say about SYHA's future strategy.

Biography for Hostelling Scotland

Scotland's best known network of youth hostels in stunning city & rural locations. As a not-for-profit organisation, we encourage guests to join Hostelling Scotland. Members enjoy a range of exclusive benefits including dual membership of Hostelling International, providing access to more than 4,000 youth hostels in over 90 countries worldwide. Membership and guest overnight income supports our charitable youth programmes.

Leave a Comment