Best travel organisation: Youth Hostels Association
Saturday 17 April 2010
"Thanks, i'll have an orange juice." I gave this innocuous response when invited to have a drink at the opening ceremony for the Earl's Court youth hostel in London. Little did I know I would come up against a refreshingly direct example of sustainability in tourism. "I'm afraid you can't have one," the hostel manager explained. "Rather than using stuff imported from the tropics, we only serve juices made from British fruit. We've got some lovely organic apple juice from Kent, though." Not many food miles there, then.
The Youth Hostels Association has been at the forefront of environmentally sensitive tourism since its inception 80 years ago. While the typical hosteller has changed dramatically, the YHA's focus on celebrating the great outdoors remains. Many youth hostels intelligently revive existing buildings – such as Idwal Cottage in Snowdonia, which was originally built for the manager of a slate mine but now caters to hikers. At the other end of Wales, Port Eynon in the Gower Peninsula is a former lifeboat station with a shoreline location that the finest hotel would crave.
The YHA has established a string of "Green Beacon" hostels that deploy 21st-century technology to environmental effect – including the former village school in Lockton in the North York Moors, which has everything from solar panels to composting toilets. And the greatest of them all? The monks' quarters adjacent to the ruins of Whitby Abbey, perhaps the only place you will ever stay that boasts original wattle-and-daub features. All yours for £19.95 a night – and so special that the hostel runs tours of the interior for anyone unfortunate enough not to be staying there.
Simon Calder is travel editor of The Independent
Drug-resistant bacteria: Sewage-treatment plants described as giant 'mixing vessels' after scientists discover mutated microbes in British river
Big Butterfly Count: Members of British public turn scientists as survey gets under way
The top 10 weirdest animal mating rituals
The ugliest animals on earth: Blobfish, axolotl and proboscis monkey battle it out to be named least attractive beast
Wisborough Green becomes the first village in Britain to fight off fracking
- 1 Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Pro-Russian rebel 'admits to shooting down plane'
- 2 Israel has discovered that it's no longer so easy to get away with murder in the age of social media
- 3 Israel-Gaza conflict: The myth of Hamas’s human shields
- 4 Amy Winehouse unpublished 2004 interview: ‘Ten years from now I’ll be 30, so I’ll maybe have one baby’
- 5 Dutch paedophile club to fight their ban at the European Court of Human Rights
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Vladimir Putin is given 'one last chance' to end hostilities in Ukraine
The 'scroungers’ fight back: The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Ukrainian military jet was flying close to passenger plane before it was shot down, says Russian officer
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: Massive rise in sale of British arms to Russia
Malaysia Airlines MH17 crash: victims’ bodies bundled in black bags and loaded onto trains
£49000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...
£48000 - £54000 per annum + Benefits package: Progressive Recruitment: My clie...
£35000 - £45000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: If you're pa...
£45000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP Business...