I’ve stayed in a lot hostels all over the world, including many of the best hostels in Scotland. Before I quit my job to blog full time I worked for a hostel brand in Scotland, so you could say I know my Scotland hostels pretty well!
Staying in a hostel in Scotland is a fantastic experience; you save money, make lifelong friends, plus you are promoting sustainable tourism in Scotland by sharing facilities. Winning!
I’ve listed my favourites that I know you’ll love, plus a few that are on my bucket list!
Are hostels safe in Scotland?
Absolutely- Scotland is a safe country to visit. There is a great mix of hostels throughout Scotland; you’ve got your standard party hostels, however there are many family [and dog] friendly hostels too. When I first started travelling I loved my party hostels, but when I reached my late twenties I started looking for hostels that were more family friendly so I knew I’d get a better night’s sleep.
When I was hiking the length of Scotland solo in 2018, I stayed in a few hostels throughout the country. You are more likely to find party hostels in cities such as Edinburgh and Glasgow, while in the more rural hostels you are likely to find outdoor enthusiasts, couples and families.
I felt 100% safe in every hostel I stayed in. Obviously, you should remain vigilant- however if it’s your first time staying in a hostel and you’re nervous, I hope I’ve been able to reassure you.
The best hostels in Scotland
1. Castle Rock Hostel, Edinburgh
If I could pick the overall best hostel in Scotland I’ve stayed in, it’s Castle Rock Hostel in Edinburgh. Located just 50 metres from Edinburgh Castle, it’s smack bang in the heart of the city with all the main attractions within walking distance.
When I first moved to Edinburgh I lived at Castle Rock for six months- so you can see why this hostel is special to me. Not only is the hostel huge [it has 150 rooms] but they have epic social events, including a free pub crawl for guests on a Thursday night, ceilidh dancing on a Wednesday and beer pong tournaments on Saturday nights.
Don’t just take my word for it- Castle Rock has a rating of 9.6 out of 10 on Hostelworld, and 4.7 out of 5 on Google. This hostel has also won multiple awards, including Hostelworld’s Most Popular Hostel in Edinburgh for the past seven years!
>> Read more: 11 cheap pubs in Edinburgh for backpackers
Support Hostels in Scotland
Castle Rock Hostel are currently involved in the Adopt A Hostel programme- a programme that has been designed to support hostels during these troubled times. If you’re planning a trip to Edinburgh someday, you can purchase a gift card that has no expiry for a future stay at this hostel. You can support Castle Rock Hostel by clicking here.
2. Loch Ossian Youth Hostel, Corrour
I spent a girls hiking weekend at Loch Ossian Youth Hostel and despite the traditional Scottish weather, it was great! What I love most about this hostel is that it’s an eco-hostel located at the foot of Loch Ossian. To reach this hostel you must catch the train to the most remote railway station in Scotland, and then walk for 20 minutes into the wilderness.
If you’re wanting to get away from it all and spend a weekend hiking, I cannot recommend this hostel enough!
There are hikes for all levels, from the flat path around Loch Ossian to a number of munros you can bag. The hostel is a cosy wee log cabin that can sleep up to six females and six males, and is the perfect space to relax with a dram after a day in the hills.
>> Read more: 11 places in Scotland off the beaten path
3. Achmelvich Beach Youth Hostel, Lochinver
Achmelvich Beach Youth Hostel is located next to one of Scotland’s most beautiful and remote beaches. I still vividly remember walking to the beach and watching the sun dip below the horizon, casting various hues of peach, pink and red across the landscape.
This hostel is cosy and homely- a perfect base to meet local wildlife and explore the surrounding beaches and hiking trails. This hostel even has chickens! Achmelvich Beach Youth Hostel was one of my highlights on the North Coast 500.
>> Read more: What to pack for a trip to Scotland
4. Torridon Youth Hostel, Torridon
Hikers, climbers and wildlife lovers, rejoice! The Torridon Youth Hostel is the perfect place to base yourself for some hiking, climbing and wildlife spotting. On my first visit to Torridon Youth Hostel I spotted a pine marten frolicking in the backyard!
Torridon Youth Hostel is one of the larger hostels in Scotland, and sits at the upper end of Loch Torridon under the watchful eye of the mighty mountain, Liathach. The best feature is the spacious lounge with panoramic mountain views.
This hostel is a stone’s throw from Beinn Eighe National Nature Reserve; it’s also on the North Coast 500.
Torridon Youth Hostel is a family friendly hostel- and dog friendly too!
>> Read more: How to travel Scotland on a budget
5. Inchnadamph Lodge Hostel, Assynt
Inchnadamph Lodge Hostel is a hostel truly off the beaten path in Scotland. Assynt is one of my favourite areas in Scotland, known for its wild, rocky landscapes, towering mountains and dramatic coastline.
Inchnadamph Lodge Hostel is a small rural hostel, and sleeps up to 28 across four rooms. The Inchnadamph Lodge also has two Sheperd’s Huts- small detached huts with a double bed, small sofa and basin. I stayed in the Heilan Hut and it was fun and unique experience.
Ardvreck Castle, a castle ruin that dates back to the 16th century, is a short drive up the road. This area also offers some of the most challenging and stunning hiking trails in Scotland, including the Cape Wrath Trail.
6. Callander Hostel, Callander
This hostel offers clean and tidy accommodation at an affordable rate, in the heart of the national park. They also have a bistro. The lounge has some great views of Ben Ledi, and Callendar is a great wee base to enjoy some hiking and nature.
7. Gairloch Sands Youth Hostel, Gairloch
Gairloch Sands Youth Hostel is another fantastic remote hostel in Scotland. This hostel is located on the north-west coast of Scotland, just up the road from the village of Gairloch and a stone’s throw from Big Sand Beach, a beautiful white sandy beach popular with campers.
The hostel is licensed so you can enjoy a dram while admiring the panoramic view of Loch Gairloch and the Torridon mountains from the main lounge. On a clear day you can also see the Isle of Skye and the Outer Hebrides!
It’s also the perfect location for some star gazing.
8. Helmsdale Hostel, Sutherland
Helmsdale Hostel was something of a pleasant surprise when I stayed there during my North Coast 500 adventure. Newly refurbished with a gorgeous wooden lodge aesthetic, it feels more like a cosy lodge than a hostel. This hostel has been refurbished with extreme care, and after chatting to the owner of the hostel, I realised this was a passion project.
Helmsdale is such an underrated town in Scotland; most people scoot past it on the NC500 in favour of Inverness, however I think skipping it is a crime. Stop for a night [or a few], cook yourself a delicious meal. then cosy up by the fire. You will thank me!
Hostels on my bucket list
Of course, there are plenty of hostels still on my bucket list! Here are a few I’ll be checking out when it’s safe to travel.
Lazy Duck Hostel, Cairngorms National Park
A cabin in the woods? Yes please.
The Lazy Duck Hostel is the hostel of my dreams. You all know I’m a massive nature nerd, and while some people prefer mountains or the coast, I’m all about the forest. The Lazy Duck isn’t just a hostel; they have a private and uber romantic hut called the Woodsman Hut, a camp ground, and a couple of other private huts. You can also book a private session in their wood-fire hot tub or infra-red sauna. You can also book a massage or yoga class. This might just be the most zen hostel in Scotland!
The Lochside Hostel, Inverness
The Lochside Hostel has such a unique location- nestled beside Loch Ness! When I’m next in need of a nature break, this is the hostel I’ll be heading to.
Gearrannan Hostel, Isle of Lewis
With its dry stone walls and thatched roof, the Gearrannan Hostel looks like something straight out of 18th century Scotland. There are currently only 305 buildings with thatched roofs left in Scotland; so you can see why I’m itching to spend a night here in the gorgeous Outer Hebrides.
Am Bothan Bunkhouse, Isle of Harris
Glen Affric Youth Hostel, Alltbeithe
The Glen Affric Youth Hostel is the most remote hostel in Scotland. It is not accessible by vehicle, and it requires a 3-4 hour hike to get there! It was once an old stalkers bothy, and is located on the Affric/Kintail Way. I almost stayed here once, but instead opted for Camban bothy which is one of the best bothies in Scotland. The hiking in the area is incredible, so I’ll be heading back one day to spend a night in this hostel!
>> Next: Read my ultimate guide to planning a trip to Scotland