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Are YHA generally the Best?

Travel Forums General Talk Are YHA generally the Best?

1. Posted by Marcus1 (Full Member, 129 posts) 1 Sep '08 07:44

If you're looking to keep to a budget, are these generally the best, most reliable places? Are they everywhere or is this just an Australian thing?

2. Posted by Sander (Moderator, 4365 posts) 1 Sep '08 08:04

Define "best"?

YHA quality in Australia is in 95% of the cases consistently above a certain minimum threshold, with maybe 10% of them really being the best you can find, both in facilities and cleanliness as in atmosphere and friendliness, but another 10% feeling rather impersonal and institutional.
They're definitely not the cheapest hostels out there, and some of them are by far the most expensive (though on average it isn't too bad, especially when you consider the large members discount which applies), but if you're looking at budget accommodation versus traditional hotels, then yes, they're really good.

YHA hostels don't appeal as much to people preferring a party atmosphere, but they are generally preferred by people who put a lot of value in cleanliness and friendliness; in getting a good night's rest.

The brand YHA operates under worldwide is "Hostelling International", which indeed can be found nearly everywhere in the world (it's the largest organization of its type in the world, and has significantly more hostels participating than VIP, who are the closest thing to a competitor). Hostelling international/YHA also has an ideological basis, and is a non-profit organization. Their mission is:

To promote the education of all young people of all nations, but especially young people of limited means, by encouraging in them a 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, and as ancillary thereto, to provide hostels or other accommodation 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.

...and this mission does shine through in the way they operate hostels and the little things they pay attention to.

That said, the quality of HI hostels worldwide varies greatly. In my experience the YHA hostels in Australia and New Zealand are amongst the best in the world. Europe and Canada have some really good ones as well, but many more impersonal and boring hostels with silly rules. The one HI hostel in Peru which I was considering to use had really bad reviews, so I steered clear of it, and the one HI hostel in Thailand which I used was pretty good, with especially the friendliness of staff lifting it above the pack.

Staying at a HI hostel will always be my first choice when looking for accommodation in a city I don't know, but only in Australia and New Zealand would I (personally) trust blindly that the quality is good enough; everywhere else I'd be really sure to do research beforehand. Undoubtedly there's many other countries in which their hostels are as consistently good, but I don't yet have the experience to trust in that.

[ Edit: Edited on Sep 1, 2008, at 8:05 AM by Sander ]

3. Posted by Swept Away (Travel Guru, 1113 posts) 1 Sep '08 08:23

Quoting Marcus1

If you're looking to keep to a budget, are these generally the best, most reliable places? Are they everywhere or is this just an Australian thing?

In China, they are the best for cheap and decent accomodations.

4. Posted by Cool Paul (Travel Guru, 610 posts) 1 Sep '08 17:36

If by best you mean boring, void of any personality, and expensive. then yes.

I stayed in YHAs only in my first week in oz. After that, never again. there are so many other places that are cheaper, smaller, and more comfortable.

but generally they do have nice facilities. so if that's your thing YHA is the best.

5. Posted by Squarabara (Budding Member, 58 posts) 8 Sep '08 16:17

I prefer the hostels that are family owned and operated. So much more personal than the chain ones. As far as pricing goes, I find that YHA and Base are about average but you can find cheaper places throughout the country. I'm speaking strictly about New Zealand as that is the only place I've been to when staying at hostels. But all of the hostels I've stayed at so far have been awesome and they are not YHA or Base. You can also look at the BBH website for all the hostels in New Zealand that are part of that particular association. It's pretty cool.

Cheers!!!

6. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru, 5336 posts) 8 Sep '08 16:23

I agree - it's much better to suss out independently run hostels. YHAs/HIs are fine and I've stayed in quite a few of them. Generally, the standard is good and you know what to expect for the mostpart. Also, if you're a member you can avail of member discounts etc. But they are pretty insitutional and have a lot of rules (because they need to).

I find Hostelworld.com great for finding newer independent hostels. I generally avoid now places that are listed in the guidebooks because they are usually jam-packed, and it's like once they get mentioned in the LP the standard slips a bit. Just an observation.

YHAs are a good bet if you are looking for a well serviced hostel with good facilities, but outside of that I find them a bit dull to stay at.

Hope that helps.