Hostile over Christmas? Try a hostel instead

Some of Scotland’s most remote lodges are to become non-festive sanctuaries for people who loathe the sight of turkey and tinsel.

A number of the country’s youth hostels are offering themselves as the ideal place to escape the stresses, commercialism and jollity of the Christmas period.

The Scottish Youth Hostel Association (SYHA) has said that a number of its properties would remain open on December 25 and Boxing Day to cater for those who would rather opt for humbug than mince pies.

Keith Legge, the organisation’s chief executive officer, insisted there was an increasing demand from people seeking a non traditional yuletide.

He said: “Christmas is a favourite time of year for many people, but, equally, others can get overwhelmed by all the celebrations, shopping, food and drink.

“A number of our hostels, such as Glen Nevis, Oban and Aviemore, will be open as usual over Christmas.

“Many of our guests may be looking to get away from all, may not celebrate Christmas at all, or would prefer to spend some time in the great outdoors.”

Glen Nevis Youth Hostel, in the shadow of Britain’s highest peak, is expecting to welcome about 40 Christmas refuseniks.

A spokeswoman for the centre, which is offering mountainside bunks for £14 a head, claimed it would provide an ideal hideaway for those looking to avoid Brussels sprouts, carols and novelty jumpers.

She said: “Nowadays people get swamped by Christmas and some want to get away from it.

“It’s going to be very low-key here on December 25.

“There definitely won’t be any turkey or decorations, although we will have a couple of little Christmas trees.”

The hostel manager said they would be catering for a wide variety of people who did not want to deck the halls or pull a cracker.

She said: “Some of our guests don’t much care for the festive period.

“Others will be people for whom Christmas is not their religious festival. There will also be foreign students who are here without their families and don’t want to be on their own.

“All of them know that they will be able to meet people here who are in a similar situation.”

There will also be very little ‘ho, ho, ho’ at Glencoe, which is more than 16 miles away from Fort William, the nearest town.

One hostel employee said: “The people who are coming to stay over Christmas want to get away from everything. It’s going to be fairly quiet here.

“I believe there may be a few decorations, but there won’t be any traditional Christmas food. We don’t have the kitchen for it.”

The association’s Aviemore hostel is expecting around 50 people, many of whom are hoping to spend the day snowboarding rather than sitting in front of the TV.

A spokesman said: “The mountains, and prospect of snow, are a big draw for them.

“There are going to be quite a few solo travellers here on Christmas day. We are self-catering venue, but hopefully they will join forces and eat together.”

However, the SYHA is keen to point out that it is not opposed to Christmas or celebrations.

A spokeswoman said: “One of our properties, Rowardennan Lodge, is offering a special festival package this year.”

Those spending Christmas on the banks of Loch Lomond will be treated to a three course dinner, party games and a waterside stroll followed by a warming dram.

Other hostels which will remain open for Christmas include Loch Ossian and Inverness, in the Highlands, Stirling, Edinburgh and Glasgow.