It's been a few years since I've staid at a hostel and I was a little apprehensive. I thought maybe I was too old or that maybe the place wouldn't be very secure. But I wanted to do some hillwalking in the Cairngorms and hotels seemed rather pricey, so I took a chance and booked with Habitat. When the time came, I hopped on the 201 out of Aberdeen and arrived in Ballater 2 hours later. I was welcomed and shown around as soon as I arrived.
It turns out my fears were ill-founded. Habitat was a wonderful, modern hostel. The other guests were friendly and respectful and I certainly had no issues with security. Each bunkroom has a unique security key, so only the people in your bunkroom are able to enter. Perhaps the best feature at Habitat is the kitchen. They have a big old restaurant stove with 6 large burners (as a previous reviewer mentions, it can be tricky to light at first, but once you get the hang of it, it takes just seconds), 2 fridges, lots of pots and pans, more dinnerware than could be counted, and lots of counter space. Just across from the kitchen are two large tables with benches. Each has cushions for 6, but they could easily seat 8 each or even 10 if stools are added to the ends. There are two large couches near a 50ish inch flat screen television. If I had any complaint, it would be the size of the bunks. I'm only 5'11", but I felt as though my feet were constrained by having rails at both the head and foot of the bunks. Also the mattresses were rather soft for my taste. These are quibbles, though, compared to some other places I've managed to sleep. And, to be honest, I slept fairly well, all told.
So, if it's time for you to summit Lochnagar, I would highly recommend staying at Habitat. In fact, even if I intend to do hikes in the nearby towns I might consider Habitat. The main deterrent would be bus prices. According to another guest at the hostel, making a quick hop down the road is likely to cost 5 pounds each way. That seems a little steep compared to the 10 pound ticket from Aberdeen and it might cause me to consider staying in Braemar. If I decide to that on the next trip I will be sure to write up my experiences there as well.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Ballater Hostel (formerly Habitat at Ballater) is a 25 bed five star self-catering hostel situated in the centre of Ballater, near Balmoral, on the east side of the Cairngorms National Park. The Hostel is owned and run by Dominique & Daniel, who took over the hostel in August 2016. We have both traditional dorm rooms and private rooms, along with a large open plan kitchen / dining / communal area with wood burning stove. A drying room and cycle storage is also available. Either book the whole hostel, a room or just a bed, with no minimum stay. From £20 per person per night (mixed dorm) and £33 per room per night (private room). Excellent facilities, comfortable beds and a warm and friendly welcome awaits you – the kettle is always on! ... more less
- Reservation Options:
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- Also Known As:
- Ballater Hostel Scotland