AD | Gifted stay
Up until recently I will hold my hands up and admit that I was a bit of a snob when it came to travelling and where we stayed. A couple of years ago if you’d have asked me to stay in a caravan or a hotel I probably would have laughed at you. However, I’ve really become more open minded about staying in different kinds of accommodation that aren’t just a hotel room with a private bathroom. I want Erin to experience all different kinds of travel so on a recent trip we stayed at YHA Cambridge.
YHA Cambridge is in a great location if you’re visiting the city. It’s only a short 5 minute walk away from the train station and around a 15-20 minute walk into the city centre. We found the location to be just right for us as there are small supermarkets and shops nearby so we could stock up on anything we needed but also there was a park really close by for Erin.
Check in time is 2pm but we arrived quite early at 12:30 because of when our train got in. Although we weren’t able to check in early, the staff said we were more than welcome to sit in the social area and wait. I immediately felt welcomed into YHA Cambridge and it was a completely different feeling than I’ve ever had in a hotel.
The social area is also a cafe where you can get drinks, cakes and hot food throughout the day. We decided to make the most of the time we had and get a cup of tea, cake for Erin and we were also able to eat the lunches we’d packed for the journey. John and Erin decided that they didn’t want to sit around so after a little while they went on an adventure to find the nearest park. Luckily, there was one just across the road so that kept both of them busy until we could check in.
When it was time to check in the staff couldn’t have been more helpful. I had a lovely chat with the woman who sorted out our room keys who also had a young daughter and she was able to point out some places that might be of interest on a map. We did already have our time in Cambridge planned out but it was nice to know that if we needed any help or advice at all about where to go then we had someone to ask.
Private room with En-suite
As we were staying with Erin we opted for a private room with en-suite and this was on the ground floor. We had to go through a secure door before we could get to our room and we used our key card for this. I immediately felt like we, and our belongings, were safe at the YHA thanks to the security in place for anyone staying there.
Our room was much bigger than I’d expected it to be and we had a single bed in one corner with a double bed with a bunk on the other side of the room. Each bed had a light for reading, plug sockets (although not USB) and there was plenty of space for us all to be able to move around. The room also had 2 hanging spaces above storage cupboards and these could be locked if you had a padlock. Obviously we didn’t really need them as we had a private room but padlocks would be necessary if you had a shared dorm instead.
As soon as Erin saw the room she very quickly declared that she wanted to sleep on the ‘upstairs bed’. She’d never slept in a bunk bed before so I was a little worried about it but the ladder was really safe and Erin could get up and down easily. Erin slept up there on both nights and didn’t wake up once!
Not only did Erin really enjoy sleeping in her bed but John and I found them really comfortable too. On our first night there was a slightly loud room upstairs but John and Erin managed to sleep through any noise and they didn’t even know that anything was happening. I’m a lighter sleeper so it did keep me awake for a while but on the second night there was no noise at all and I had a great sleep!
I didn’t know what to expect from YHA which is why I chose a room with an en-suite for our first visit. Our bathroom was an accessible bathroom so there was a shower that could be handheld as well as one attached to the wall. The bathroom was like one big wetroom with a shower curtain around that area and then a toilet and sink in the opposite corner.
The shower was hot enough and with good pressure and the space in the room was pretty good for a family with a small child. It made getting Erin washed really easy as we didn’t have to fight with a small shower cubicle. However, some parts of this particular bathroom could do some with TLC as the seat had loose bolts and the handle on the door was quite loose with screws coming out.
On our first morning we decided to have breakfast at the hostel rather than find somewhere in the city to eat. Breakfast is served between 7:30 and 10am and cost £6.95 per adult and £3.50 for children.
There was a counter where hot food was available but it wasn’t a help your self situation. Someone was there to serve up the food but you could have whatever you wanted and go back for more (as we saw others do). John particularly likes a cooked breakfast when we go away and he really enjoyed his. It was nice to see that everything was cooked fresh and vegetarian sausages were available too.
As well as the hot food other items like pastries, ham, bread and yogurts were available too. This is more the kind of food that Erin and I like to eat for breakfast while we’re away and Erin especially made the most of what was on offer. I do think it would have been nice to have an option for a continental breakfast only option as £6.95 is quite expensive if you don’t make the most of the hot food on offer.
Everything we had for breakfast was really fresh and delicious and it was great that we were able to eat before heading out for the day.
Something I loved the most about our stay at YHA Cambridge was the social areas. When you travel with a child who wakes up at the crack of dawn it’s important to be able to get to some food and drink, no matter what time it is. There is a really large communal kitchen here for the use of guests and we used it a few times during our visit.
The kitchen has plenty of open cupboard space for guests to keep their food as well as a large fridge/ freezer. Stickers are available to label your food and you can also take a shelf for yourself for your stay as long as you name it and put your check out date there as well. We’d taken some teacakes for Erin as well as tea and sugar for John so it was nice to have somewhere to put these.
The kitchen is really well equipped with nearly 2 of everything so multiple sinks, cookers, hobs, microwaves etc. Every time we went in and someone else was cooking or making a drink they were very friendly and said hi or good morning.
Next to the kitchen is a lounge area which is separate from the social area in the cafe. The lounge requires key access so it can only be accessed by guests. Inside there are sofas, chairs and tables, a TV and a selection of games to play or borrow. Erin was very quick to see what there was on the bookcase!
It was really nice to see that although the main selection of games were aimed at adults, there was some things for children to do as well. Not only was there Guess Who but there was a big box of bricks as well. So many places forget about the children so having something to help keep Erin entertained was a big plus for me.
The lounge area was a great place to get Erin some early breakfast and to watch some cartoons while most people were still asleep. She quickly made herself at home and comfortable while eating her teacakes.
As someone who was a bit unsure about staying in a hostel as a family, I am happy to say that there was really nothing to worry about at all. The staff were so friendly and helpful, the room was more than I expected and the social areas made our whole trip a lot easier. If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in Cambridge then I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend YHA Cambridge.
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