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Review and video of Brecon Beacons YHA, Powys, Wales

Posted by at 11:56 on Wednesday 02 April 2014

The Youth Hostel Association has undergone quite a renaissance and Brecon Beacons YHA in Powys, Wales is no different. Not a youth? Fancy a double room with en-suite? Prefer a duvet to sleeping bag? Come on in! 

>> For prices and availability, please see our full listing for Brecon Beacons YHA

>> Brecon Beacons YHA is featured in our Greentraveller Guide to Powys

The Setting
In Mid Wales, deep in the county of Powys under the snow-capped Black Mountains, and just off the A40 near Brecon, is a gorgeous little traditional youth hostel, Brecon Beacons YHA. A 19th-century former farmhouse snuggled at the base of the Corn Du mountain, it is surrounded by bucolic splendour, with a river meandering splashily by and sheep decoratively baa-ing in fields.

The Rooms
This was a shocker for me – I expected bunk beds and polyester sleeping bags and was braced, but guess what? The YHA has undergone a bit of a renaissance and there are a variety of rooms – the traditional youth hostel set-up with shared bunks and a communal shower room and shared loo, but also some proper double beds with en-suites. The old hostel has been modernised in areas but retained the traditional aspects, like the ancient bread oven and meat hooks still existing in the original kitchen, which is now the sitting room.

Proper beds come with fluffy duvets and cotton sheets. Photo: Lucy SymonsProper beds come with fluffy duvets and cotton sheets. Photo: Lucy Symons

And the YHA has really changed, modernised even – you now have 24 hour access, proper beds, an alcohol licence and fluffy duvets and sheets. The adaptable sleeping arrangements can be dictated by your group size, and you certainly don't need to be a youth any more. Anyone can apply for membership if they belong to an organised group of more than seven members with a committee; or individual membership is under £20 per annum, and allows a discount on all your stays, but membership is no longer obligatory. Families are welcome here and well catered for as are the slightly longer in the tooth. Every property is different – most of the country Youth Hostels are open seasonally, and only on the weekends but can be booked in advance at other times if you choose to. It’s always worth a call. 

The Food
Most YHAs are now fully licenced and some run a bar. You can opt for full-catering with a buffet breakfast, packed lunch and a three course dinner; a half-board package, or just use the self-catering kitchen to do your own cooking if you would prefer.  

Join in on the YHA's supper club nights, eaten in the big dining room. Photo: Lucy SymonsJoin in on the YHA's supper club nights, eaten in the big dining room. Photo: Lucy Symons

Certainly, at Brecon Beacons YHA there are local pubs just down the road if you feel the need but why bother when you can get Brecon Brewery ales right here? Sixteen Youth Hostels are starting a supper club which involves a traditional meal served at 7pm in a communal, banquet style – a set, 3-course meal, which is social and shared. And a total billy bargain at only £8.50. And the manager will try to meet any dietary requirements with a little notice.

The traditional farmhouse is set in 15 acres of ancient woodland. Photo: Lucy SymonsThe traditional farmhouse is set in 15 acres of ancient woodland. Photo: Lucy SymonsThe Activities
The traditional farmhouse of Brecon Beacons YHA is set in 15 acres of ancient woodland, overlooking the River Tarell with views towards Y Gyrn. It is perched on the Taff Trail, running from Cardiff to Brecon, a peaceful 26 mile trail for both walking and cycling. There is a footpath leading direct to the Nature Reserve of Cerrig y Gleisiad, so if you are hankering after an inter-hostel walk you can trog from Danywenallt across the Beacons and stay at both hostels, or try the Martin Hanks trail from Brecon Beacons YHA to Brecon YHA.

Cycle and walking trails also criss cross the nearby Garwnant Forest. If you feel like getting wet deliberately, there is a spot where you can white water canoe nearby, or why not try some wild swimming at Llangynidr, Usk; Pen-y-Fan, Nant Sere? Mobile signals are a bit patchy in the area, but the hope is that wifi will be rolled out here in the fullness of time. Happily there is no telly.

How to get to Brecon Beacons YHA by public transport
The nearest main line station is Brecon, from here you can cycle, hike, take a bus or a taxi direct to the hostel.

>> See our public journey transport planner

The Green
All hostels try to be as green as they can. There is a sustainable focus from the YHA headquarters – their ethos is inherently green but frequently hampered by local planning restrictions and the strictures inherant in preserving listed buildings. Brecon Beacons YHA has movement-sensitive lighting, recycling and the custodians are responsible for maintaining the historic building. The hostel has been graded bronze by the Green Tourism Business Scheme.

Top Tip
There is a gorgeous wood burner in the smokey sitting room. The hostel managers, Richard and Liz, live on site, so this place is really an extension of their jolly home and garden. And they are happy to live and work here: recently awarded an "Investors in People" gold, the YHA is listed in The Times as one of the top one hundred employers. In fact, the YHA was recently voted the third best hotel chain to stay in in the country, even though they are not officially a hotel.

Verdict
The YHA has changed. There is now all day access, and no curfew, so you can come and go as you please – there is a licensed bar at every hostel and it is no longer a case of sleeping bags on bunk beds with strangers, but fluffy duvets, double beds and en-suite bathrooms. Although 40% of the guests come as groups, it is a very safe environment and fabulous for meeting other like-minded people, so wonderful for a single woman traveling on her own and looking for some company. The over sixties have been in the habit of hosteling their whole lives and still fill the beds because, in spite of the implications of the name, the youth hostel is for everyone. 

Plenty of walking and cycling opportunities in the area. Photo: Lucy SymonsPlenty of walking and cycling opportunities in the area. Photo: Lucy Symons

>> For prices and availability, please see our full listing for Brecon Beacons YHA

>> Brecon Beacons YHA is featured in our Greentraveller Guide to Powys

Posted by Lucy Symons

Disclosure

Blogs posts categorised as 'Reviews' have been written with the support of one or more of the following: accommodation owner, activity provider, operator, equipment supplier, tourist board, protected landscape authority or other destination-focussed authority. The reviewer retains full editorial control of the work, which has been written in the reviewer's own words based on their experience of the accommodation, activity, equipment or destination.

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