10 hidden gems to discover in the South of England

Last updated 9th June 2017

Location, location, location is what it’s all about when choosing a holiday. With more than 160 properties throughout England and Wales, YHA has more than a few hidden gems to be discovered up its sleeve – from medieval castles and bell tents to converted farmhouses, with breathtaking views and magic and mystery.

With great value accommodation including catering facilities available, you can make your family holiday suit your budget. If relaxation is what you’re after, then YHA’s great value restaurants offer full English and continental breakfasts, a packed lunch service and evening meals, with kids eating free with every full price adult meal, all helping keep down the cost of a family break and freeing up time to make memories.

Here’s our pick of YHA’s hidden gems in the South of England for families to discover.


1/10  Bell tents at YHA Beer

YHA Beer in Devon is long-standing and much-loved, but few know that nestled in the grounds of this beautiful arts and crafts house are bell tents, perfect for a family weekend away.

Get all the fun of camping but without any of the set-up stress with the YHA Glamping experience at YHA Beer. These spacious tipi-like tents are fully kitted out with a double futon bed and three single futons complete with all bedding and can sleep four or five people. They also have eco-friendly solar lighting and comfy bean bags for you to chill out on during the day plus bedside tables, a coffee table, rugs and soft flooring.

The campsite overlooks the picturesque village of Beer and even has a sea view. It’s just a 10-minute stroll from the village where fresh fish is even available direct from the fishermen on the beach and there are barbecue facilities on site. Campers also have 24-hour access to all of the hostel facilities, including the bar and lounge area should the Great British weather decide to take a turn for the worst.

Bell Tents sleep five from £75. Private family rooms start from £39, and sleep four, five or six. Some rooms contain a double bed, and one is ensuite. Alternatively, hire the whole place, sleeping 38 from £234.

Bell Tents sleep five from £75. Private family rooms start from £39, and sleep four, five or six. Some rooms contain a double bed, and one is ensuite. Alternatively, hire the whole place, sleeping 38 from £234.

Book YHA Beer


2/10  Medieval magic at YHA St Briavels

YHA’s answer to Hogwarts lies in Lydney in Gloucestershire. St Briavels Castle is a venue with a real “WOW” factor that will amaze and inspire young and old alike. The Castle is over 800 years old, with bags of character and a magical charm.

Families will be transported back in time to the medieval world of King John and the Magna Carta when they stay at YHA St Briavels Castle. Enjoy a medieval banquet for dinner to really get into the spirit. A set of stocks in the castle’s grounds will virtually guarantee good behaviour from youngsters during your stay as well.

Set in an Area of Natural Beauty in the middle of the Forest of Dean there are also plenty of family fun attractions and outdoor activities on the doorstep, including wooded walks, cycle trails, canoe routes, world-famous rock climbing and views at Symonds Yat. Or, if St Briavels isn’t enough for you then go and visit even more castles!

There are six character private rooms in the castle sleeping four or six, starting from £89, or larger ‘dorm’ rooms in the towers that are perfect for larger families and groups to share.

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3/10  Land Ahoy at YHA Eden Project

Set sail for Cornwall’s Eden Project and stay in a recycled shipping container. YHA Eden Project (powered by Snoozebox) is a unique place to stay and it’s perfectly in tune with its sustainable, eco-friendly surroundings.

The modern en-suite bedrooms are made from recycled shipping containers and they’re fully kitted out with high spec bathrooms and all the convenient comforts you’d expect, including air con and TVs. There’s a large heated reception marquee that can be used as a fun social space, and there’s a campsite a short walk away if you want to be even closer to nature.

With amazing wonders like the world’s largest rainforest in captivity, beautiful gardens, the famous Rainforest Canopy Walkway or even the longest zip wire in England, there is plenty to see and do, but if that’s not enough then YHA Eden Project is a fantastic base for the family to explore Cornwall.

60 modern en-suite “Snoozebox” bedrooms start from £35, sleeping two, three or four, some with double beds. Eden also offers bell tents that sleep four or five, starting from £65.

Book YHA Eden Project



4/10  Myth and mystery at YHA Tintagel

Immerse yourself in history, myths and stunning scenery at YHA Tintagel on the North Cornwall coast.

Inextricably linked with the legend of King Arthur, Tintagel is one of Britain’s most popular places to visit. From the higgledy-piggledy roof of the medieval ‘Old Post Office’ to the drama of the panorama seen from St Materiana Parish Church, the legend of Tintagel Castle and Merlin’s Cave to the boom and blast of the Atlantic crashing against the coastline, this corner of Cornwall is pure magic.

Perched on the cliff top, YHA Tintagel has the most stunning views of the North Cornwall Coast. A wood burner in the lounge makes the hostel really cosy, so you can sit and check out the wildlife and views with your little ones from the fabulous window seat in the lounge.

If you want your family to reconnect with each other, then YHA Tintagel is the place for your family hols as WiFi and phone signals are out and talking is in.

Private family rooms start from £49, and sleep between three and four people. Alternatively, hire the whole place, sleeping 22 from £149.

Book YHA Tintagel


5/10   Fit for a Queen at YHA South Downs

Do you like the thought of laying your head where HRH The Queen has stood? If so, then the camping pods, which are tucked away in the grounds of YHA South Downs in East Sussex, could be the place for your next family holiday.

HRH visited YHA South Downs and checked out the camping pods as part of her visit there in 2013 to officially open the £3 million hostel. The wooden pods, which are heated and include beds, futons and bedding, sleep up to four people. Each pod also has an individual decking area which is perfect for having a disposable BBQ.

Set in the grounds of a converted farmhouse located on the South Downs Way, YHA South Downs is a three-minute walk from Southease train station and close to the Sussex towns of Lewes and Newhaven. The culture of Brighton is also not far away and the great outdoors of the South Downs National Park is right on your doorstep.

Standard Pods sleeping three (on futon beds) start from £29, and Large Pods sleeping four (on a double futon and 2 single beds) start from £39. Bell tents sleep up to five, include a double bed, and start from £39. Private family rooms start from £25, and sleep between two and six, some with double beds and en-suite facilities.

Book YHA South Downs


6/10  A holiday with character at YHA Medway

Curious kids will love a stay at YHA Medway in rural Kent. It’s a traditional Oast house packed full of character, including exposed beams and beautiful brickwork, and it has a raft of activities and sightseeing trips on its doorstep.

Capstone Farm Country Park is situated opposite, and boasts a mountain bike course, trim trail and several mapped routes for cycling, running and walking. You can even go fishing there. Just 10 minutes’ drive from YHA Medway is Chatham’s Historic Dockyard Trust Museum and there’s even opportunities for skiing at Chatham Ski Centre.

YHA Medway also offers YHA’s popular Supper Club dining experience. Sit around the table with your fellow holiday makers and help yourself to a delicious two-course home-cooked meal and share the stories and memories that you have made throughout your day.

Private family rooms start from £25 and sleep between two and six people, some with double beds. Alternatively, hire the whole place, sleeping 52 from £225.

Book YHA Medway



7/10  Memory-making at YHA Tanners Hatch

Peace, quiet and children can be mentioned in the same sentence when you stay at YHA Tanners Hatch in Dorking, Surrey. It’s a lovely 17th-century cottage conversion surrounded by rambling roses and mature trees.

There’s no TV or internet, and mobile reception is patchy at best at this picturesque and eco-friendly hostel which is set in National Trust woodland. It’s the perfect country retreat close to London.

Inside it’s the very definition of cosy but the friendly, all-muck-in-together atmosphere is part of the appeal. The low-beamed ceilings, creaky narrow stairs, triple bunkbeds and outdoor toilet/shower block all add to the character and sense of adventure for kids and adults.

Set the kids loose in the grounds and ignite their imagination making campfires and stoking up a barbecue in the woods.

This classic country cottage with low-beamed ceilings offers 25 beds arranged across three bedrooms. There are sinks in two of the bedrooms. Toilets and showers are in a separate building outside. Prices start from £13 per bed. Alternatively, hire the whole place, sleeping 15 from £119.

Book YHA Tanners Hatch


8/10  Dinosaur digging at YHA Lulworth Cove

Budding paleontologists and geologists will be in their element at YHA Lulworth Cove in Dorset, a timber retreat hidden away in rural Dorset.

It’s only a one-mile walk from the famous Lulworth Cove a Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site. The cove is considered one of the finest examples of this type of land formation and is often described as one of the seven natural wonders in England.

Visiting the Lulworth Cove Visitor Centre during your stay is a must. You’ll be transported back 150 million years ago, as the first rocks formed, to the landscape and village as it is today. For activity breaks, the South West Coastal Path passes close by or, for the more thrill-seeking, the kids will like Tower Park Leisure Centre, Monkey World or the nearby Tank Museum.

Private family rooms start from £39, sleeping four, five or six, some with ensuite facilities. Alternatively, hire the whole place, sleeping 34 from £171.

Book YHA Lulworth Cove



9/10  A magical stay at YHA Boscastle

Set on the harbour’s edge, this quaint stone hostel, which is owned by the National Trust, is a one minute walk from the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic which houses the world’s largest collection of witchcraft related artifacts and regalia.

By day, Boscastle in Cornwall is a pretty, bustling fishing village but at night peace and calm reign supreme ensuring your little ones sleep soundly ready for exploring and activities in the morning.

YHA Boscastle has a well-equipped self-catering kitchen with everything you need to prepare delicious meals throughout your stay, or you can get to know the locals in the nearby pubs while sampling some tasty Cornish food and local ales instead.

Private family rooms start from £39, and sleep three to six, some with a double bed and some with ensuite facilities. Alternatively, hire the whole place, sleeping up to 28 from £149.

Book YHA Boscastle



10/10  Find your secret spot at YHA Lizard Point

Almost the most southerly building in England, YHA Lizard is a former Victorian Hotel that was acquired by the National Trust to preserve and protect this most unique location. In fact, if you want to stand on the most southern point in Great Britain then you’re only a seven minute walk away from it – something even the tiniest legs can manage.

With its first-class facilities and stunning panoramic sea views out to sea over Lizard Point, YHA Lizard can be enjoyed by everyone. It provides a superb base for exploring the spectacular coastline of this historic peninsula, and is just two miles from the beautiful Kynance Cove.

Use the hostel’s self-catering kitchen to pack up for the day and take the family beachcombing, birdwatching, cycling, walking, rock-pooling or visiting the lighthouse (the only one you can climb in Cornwall).

Private family rooms start from £29, and sleep three, four or five, some with a double bed and some with en-suite facilities. Alternatively, hire the whole place, sleeping up to 28 from £140.

Book YHA Lizard Point