COVID-19 FAQs

Latest Government guidance

Government guidance means that we are currently unable to open hostels in England, and are significantly restricted in Wales.

We have therefore taken the difficult decision to temporarily close all hostels in England and Wales for recreational purposes from 4th November to 2nd December 2020.

We know that hostelling will continue to play a significant part in helping the nation’s recovery, with travel and adventure proven to improve mental and physical health and wellbeing. We have therefore committed to open a number of hostels across England & Wales from 3rd December throughout winter.

We anticipate restrictions on recreational travel and tourism to continue in the coming months but our COVID Flexibility Guarantee means you can book with confidence. This flexibility means that you will not lose out even when rules change. 

View hostels open in winter

Throughout this challenging period many of our hostel buildings have been used by charities and local government as part of the nation’s relief effort. We will continue to seek opportunities to repurpose our closed hostels throughout winter. If you have an opportunity to utilise our hostels over this period please contact us to discuss your requirement. Read more about the work we’re doing on re-purposing hostels and our “Project 90” funded places for key workers through winter.

Finally, if you would like to discuss booking a hostel for Exclusive Hire over winter, please call us on +44 (0)1629 592700 (lines open 10:00 – 15:00 GMT, Monday-Friday).

Existing bookings

We understand customers with existing bookings will be anxious over this period, but please be assured for bookings made directly with YHA you will be covered by our Covid Flexibility Guarantee

For stays due to arrive before 3rd December 2020, please follow the instructions to transfer or cancel your booking. If we do not hear from you, we will attempt to contact you by phone and email.

For arrival dates after 3rd December 2020, where it is still legal and safe to accept your booking, we will email you closer to the arrival date to confirm your Exclusive Hire booking or Group booking. We will also be in touch nearer the time to confirm bookings for private rooms and camping where your stay is at one of our open hostels. However, your were due to stay in a private room or camping at any of our other hostels over winter, we will contact you soon to discuss alternative arrangements. We thank customers for their patience and ask that they do not contact us just yet. Our phone lines are extremely busy while staff deal with bookings in order based on stay dates.

We will update the information on this page and on our FAQs pages in the coming days as we develop plans for winter.

Thank you for your continued support throughout this difficult period. Whilst many of our hostels are closed, find out how to support our charity in other ways.

Updated 16th November 2020

Useful links: Official Covid-19 regulations for England and Wales.

Read more about the steps we're taking to keep our guests safe during their stays, in our confidence and peace of mind plan.

All guests FAQs

What are you doing to keep surfaces virus-free?

We are increasing the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting all areas of the hostel, with a particular focus on high-frequency touch points, using Covid-19 secure chemicals and in line with the official public health guidance.

We have removed any unnecessary or difficult-to-clean items from rooms and public spaces, including seating and most storage lockers in bedrooms

Do I need to bring my own hand sanitiser?

Our hostels operating private rooms will are equipped with hand sanitiser stations throughout the hostel.

Guests in our Exclusive Hire properties, and camping and cabin products, are welcome to bring their own hand sanitiser as this will not be provided.

Will YHA provide my contact details to NHS test and trace services?

We will collect the contact details of our guests, staff and visitors and share them with NHS Test and Trace (England) and NHS Wales Test, Trace, Protect upon request. Please see our Privacy Policy for more information.

What do I do if I feel unwell?

If you feel unwell before you travel, or are self-isolating, please do not travel to a hostel.

If you begin to feel unwell after you arrive, please inform a member of staff as soon as possible.

What is the Government guidance on meeting up with family and friends at the hostel?

>We are awaiting updated Government guidance on the regulations that will be in place after the current restrictions are lifted.

The previous guidance for England stated that it’s against the law to meet people you do not live with in a group larger than 6 (unless you are meeting as a household or support bubble).

The guidance for England

Hostels in Wales

You can only go on holiday with people who live in the same household.

If you are meeting people you do not live with, the maximum number of people who can gather together is four (not including any children aged under 11.

The guidance for Wales

Are hostel car parks open?

Yes – unless local restrictions are put in place that prevent us from opening them; please visit the relevant hostel web page for the latest information.

Will entrance door handles be regularly cleaned?

We will keep doors open where possible, and any high-frequency touch points will be cleaned regularly.

Is check in/out contact free?

Yes, we have installed clear screens at our reception points.

Will I still be required to show ID when I check-in?

Yes, we will ask you to hold your ID up against the screen, registration forms will be completed by our staff, and if you are wearing a face covering we may ask you to remove it temporarily for identification purposes.

How will queues at reception be managed?

Signage and floor markings will are in place to help guests observe the Government’s social distancing guidance.

Can I store luggage?

We are doing all we can to open up shared facilities where it is safe to do so. If this is important to you please check the individual hostel web page where specific information is shared.

Is contactless payment mandatory?

No, but we encourage contactless methods or card payments wherever possible.

How are you keeping people apart throughout the hostel?

Signage and floor markings will are in place to help guests observe the Government’s social distancing guidance throughout the hostel.

Are guests required to wear face coverings?

We ask that, where they can, guests wear face coverings in our indoor spaces, particularly where social distancing is more difficult. We politely remind guests that some people are exempt from wearing face coverings, and that guests do not challenge those not wearing face coverings.

Where lifts are available, will these be in use?

Yes, although we encourage you to use the stairs where you can and leave lifts for those that need them.

Are all communal facilities such as self-catering kitchens, lounges, laundry facilities, drying rooms, locker rooms, toilets and games rooms closed?

The current Government guidance states that shared facilities such as communal kitchens where guests prepare their own food, must remain closed. We have opened some other communal facilities where it is allowable and we can do so safely. Please visit the relevant hostel web page for the latest information.

What steps will YHA take to ensure my room is thoroughly cleaned?

We have further enhanced our cleaning and disinfection protocols in line with the official public health guidance, and our hostel teams have undertaken additional training to ensure a Covid-19 secure environment.

Will my room be cleaned mid-stay?

No, once your room has been cleaned it is your space. No one else will enter your room unless there is a maintenance issue.

How are showers safely managed if my room doesn’t have ensuite facilities?

For private rooms that do not have ensuite facilities, shower slots will be bookable at reception. We have increased the cleaning frequency of these facilities to provide as safe an environment as possible. At peak times the showers will be cleaned after every use (or after every household/bubble use) by hostel staff. Clear signage and appropriate cleaning equipment will be provided.

Will food and drink be available on the premises?

Wherever possible to do so safely we are opening up our facilities, some may be as takeaway only, please visit the individual hostel page for the latest information.

Can I check out late?

No, due to the need to manage the number of people on site at any one time and to allow the required time to safely clean the site ready for guests arriving, we cannot allow access to the building before check-in time or after check-out time.

What do I need to do when I check out?

On check out we will need you to:

  • strip your bedding and leave it in your room – this reduces the risk to our housekeeping staff
  • let us know you have checked out – this can be by text or email
  • leave windows open for ventilation

Will hostel staff be wearing PPE?

Our staff are not required to wear PPE apart from wearing gloves for cleaning. However we do have face coverings available should they wish to use them.

The exception to this is in our Welsh hostels. Following changes in guidance from the Welsh Government, staff are required to wear face coverings unless exempt.

All staff have undertaken Covid-19 secure training and will observe the necessary protocols to keep all hostel users safe.

Our safety measures for Covid-19 are reliant on social distancing and we have chosen to maintain the 2 metres distancing recommended by the Government. We have screens in place where interactions may need to take place at less than 2 metres.

Wherever possible we will stay socially distanced from you, and we ask you maintain a 2 metre distance from our staff.

As the self-catering kitchens are closed, can I bring my own cooking equipment or kettle?

No, for fire safety reasons we cannot allow guests to bring or use their own cooking equipment or kettles inside our properties.

My area is in a local lockdown, can I stay at YHA in a different area?

The guidance relating to local lockdowns varies from region to region. We recommend customers affected by a local lockdown check any travel restrictions that are imposed at the time to ensure they are compliant with the relevant regulations.

What happens if a local lockdown occurs that affects the hostel I intend to stay in?

On being notified that an area affecting a hostel is going into lockdown, we will have to close the hostel.

For guests already at the hostel we will inform them immediately of the lockdown, and request all guests to vacate accommodation, remove belongings and leave the premises by 10am.

For guests due to arrive in the period of lockdown, we will contact the person that made the booking by email or telephone to inform them of the hostel’s closure. Guests that booked direct with YHA will be covered by our Covid-19 Flexibility Guarantee.

Am I able to stay with YHA if I have recently returned from a visit abroad?

Please refer to the latest government quarantine guidelines as to whether it is necessary to self-isolate on your return from a country abroad.

Am I able to quarantine or self-isolate with YHA?

No. Unfortunately we do not have the necessary facilities and provision to allow any guests to quarantine or self-isolate whilst staying with YHA.

YHA Exclusive Hire guest FAQs

Will I have use of the hostel communal areas when I book a property on Exclusive Hire?

Yes, as your party has exclusive use of our hostel building, you will have full access to any communal areas, such as self-catering kitchen, dining room, lounge, drying rooms etc.

If I book a property on Exclusive Hire, how many people can I bring?

When booking a property on Exclusive Hire, it is your responsibility to ensure you are aware of the current Government guidance on travel and gatherings in self-catering accommodation. In making a booking with YHA (England & Wales) you are agreeing to adhere to the relevant Government guidance that will apply at the time of your stay. Please bear in mind that the guidance may be different in England and Wales.

We are awaiting updated Government guidance on the regulations that will be in place after the current restrictions are lifted.

The previous guidance for England stated that it’s against the law to meet people you do not live with in a group larger than 6 (unless you are meeting as a household or support bubble). The police will have the powers to enforce these legal limits, including to issue fines (fixed penalty notice) of £100, doubling for further breaches up to a maximum of £3,200.

The guidance for England

Hostels in Wales

You can only go on holiday with people who live in the same household.

If you are meeting people you do not live with, the maximum number of people who can gather together is four (not including any children aged under 11. The only exception to this is where you are in a single household of more than four people.

The guidance for Wales

How are properties cleaned before arrivals?

Each property will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected using Covid-19 secure cleaning products.

We have removed unnecessary items to reduce the number of objects that are touched and require cleaning.

Do I need to bring my own hand sanitiser?

Guests in our Exclusive Hire properties are welcome to bring their own hand sanitiser,however we do provide one hand sanitiser at the entrance to the property for your use.

What do I do if I feel unwell?

If you feel unwell before you travel, or are self-isolating, please do not travel to a hostel.

If you or anyone in your party begins to feel unwell after you arrive, please follow the instructions in the welcome information provided in your hostel.

What time do i need to check out?

Please check out by 10am to allow our teams adequate time to complete our enhanced COVID-19 cleaning protocols.

Will I have access to all the rooms in the hostel?

We will ask you in advance how many bedrooms you will need to use. To minimise the number of bedrooms that need cleaning, we will close off those you don’t need access to.

Will anyone else enter the property during my stay?

No, it will be your private space for the duration of the booking, and we will only enter the building for any maintenance.We will notify you in advance if this is due to take place.

Camping and cabins FAQs

How are camping and cabins products being cleaned before arrivals?

Each camping and cabin product will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected using Covid-19 secure cleaning products.

We have removed unnecessary items to reduce the number of objects that are touched and require cleaning.

Do I need to bring my own hand sanitiser?

Guests staying in our camping and cabin products are welcome to bring their own hand sanitiser as this will not be provided. Please be assured we follow our enhanced cleaning protocols between every booking.

What do I do if I feel unwell?

If you feel unwell before you travel, or are self-isolating, please do not travel to a hostel.

If you begin to feel unwell after you arrive, please inform a member of staff as soon as possible.

Will anyone else enter my accommodation during my stay?

No, it will be your private space for the duration of the booking, and we will only enter for any maintenance requirement at your request.

Is there access to showers, toilets and washing facilities?

These facilities will operate in line with Government guidance. The majority of our camping and cabin products are operating with shared facilities. Shower slots will be bookable at reception. We are increasing the cleaning frequency of these facilities to provide as safe an environment as possible. At peak times the showers will be cleaned after every use by hostel staff. Clear signage and appropriate cleaning equipment will be provided.

Will I have access to the hostel’s self-catering kitchen?

No, at present we are not able to offer self-catering facilities. Most of our hostels and cafes will be able to serve food and drink in line with Government guidance. We are also creating outdoor facilities for washing up and a drinking water supply. You are welcome to bring your own utensils and equipment such as camping stoves.

Education group booking FAQs

Please read these group-specific FAQs in conjunction with the All guest FAQs above, which answer many of the common questions relevant to all our guests, including groups.

What assurances can you give me that your Covid-19 procedures are suitable?

  • We developed our Covid-19 secure measures to meet the stringent requirements of the Visit Britain “We’re Good to Go” industry standard and consumer mark, to demonstrate that we adhere to Government and public health guidance
  • Our Covid-19 secure measures have been externally audited by our independent auditors
  • Every hostel that we have reopened has undergone a rigorous risk assessment for Covid-19
  • All hostel staff have undergone Covid-19 safety training
  • We constantly review and enhance our Covid-19 practices in line with Government,  public health and sector-specific guidance

Will group leaders still be able to run familiarisation trips?

  • Yes, however we may need more lead time to arrange this, so please arrange as early possible
  • We may ask you to allocate more time than usual for this if the hostel is under sole occupancy in the lead up to your visit, particularly if the group staying at the time of your familiarisation visit do not want interruptions from other visitors.
  • We will honour a similar request from you in the same way when you are staying with us.

How many groups can we have staying at a hostel at any one time – are there any limits on this?

  • Our sites are unique and therefore we can’t offer a universal answer to this
  • If you contact us we can talk you through your requirements and how best we can facilitate them

Will the hostel be the same as when I’ve stayed before?

  • We have set up our hostels to be Covid-19 secure, which has necessitated changes to the way we operate them to ensure they operate safely for all hostel users
  • This means some of the rooms, spaces and facilities you have had access to previously may not be available or may have a different look to them. If you have any concerns the best thing to do is to contact us and ask.

How will communal spaces for multiple groups be provided safely?

  • Where we can, each group will be allocated its own private space for their sole use, and if possible this will be reserved for your group throughout your stay
  • Where we have other groups in the hostel we will use allocated timings to occupy spaces such as dining rooms; we will need you to be prompt and manage your group’s time in these spaces as cleaning between groups will become an essential risk control
  • Please discuss your requirements with us when you make your booking

Will you allocate additional beds or rooms for our stay to ensure that we can socially distance?

  • Your risk assessment will determine your social distancing requirements in the rooms
  • We will allocate you the rooms or beds that you tell us you require
  • If your needs change between booking and arrival, you will need to let us know as far in advance as you can to enable us to attempt to secure the space you need

Will we be charged for extra beds that we are not using but need to have due to social distancing?

  • We will seek to keep the cost as affordable as possible; however, if you request more space it may impact on the price you need to pay
  • Costs will vary dependant on the time of year and popularity of the site
  • Speak to our specialist advisors who will look to place you to meet your specific needs

Will group leaders be able to share rooms?

  • This is a decision for you based on your risk assessment and your own social distancing needs. We will do our best to meet your needs

How will activities be run to ensure social distancing?

  • We are currently running low-level activities at some of our hostels, where social distancing can be maintained
  • We are reviewing our adventure activities programme to determine how we will be able to deliver these safely.

How will groups be catered for?

  • This will depend on whether you are in a sole-use hostel or if you are sharing a hostel with other guests; due to the uniqueness of each hostel we will have to assess your specific needs.
  • If you are in a hostel with another group, each group will be given an allocated start and finish time for meals; your group will have sufficient time to enjoy their meal but we will ask you to be prompt so that we are able to clean properly between every group.

My group booking includes meals, are you continuing to offer these?

  • Yes - there are some minor changes due to Covid-19, however we continue to offer a full meals service
  • Please contact us nearer your stay for a full list of menu options

What happens if a child tests positive for Covid-19 before a stay, will they be entitled to a refund?

  • Yes, we would ask that you don’t bring anyone with you who should be isolating and therefore we would refer you to our Covid-19 Flexibility Guarantee. If the rest of your group are able to travel though we look forward to welcoming them.

What happens if a child becomes ill during their stay?

  • We will work with you and your school to meet your needs, it may be that it’s best for the child to depart but we will work with you to resolve this to the best of our ability.

Is YHA participating in the NHS Test and Trace service?

  • Yes we are, for school and youth groups however we are only taking the details of the leaders, should we be contacted by NHS Test and Trace we will notify your group leaders.

What would happen if the hostel is required to close due to Government restrictions or NHS Test and Trace?

  • We may need to close the hostel within the timeframes dictated by the Government. Any bookings for stays during this period would be cancelled. We will notify you if this affects you as soon as possible to talk through alternative options available to you.
  • Please also see the local lockdown section in the All guest FAQs

Are we able to have sole occupancy at a hostel?

  • We do offer sole-use of many of our hostels, particularly our smaller hostels that are more affordable on sole-use
  • The cost will depend on the size of the hostel and the number of people it can accommodate – the larger the property the higher the price will be