Sunday

The best hostel in the world, probably. The Royal York YHA, Brighton.

Named after the Prince Regent's cousin the Duke of York, the Royal York hotel first opened in 1819. Among its many claims to fame, Charles Dickens read from David Copperfield there in 1861, Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli was a guest and the soon to be King William and Queen Adelaide stood on the balcony and waved to a crowd singing God Save the King.
Royal York YHA Brighton
~ View from a Premium room
The Royal York YHA, Brighton ~

About a month ago on 17 November 2014 the lights were turned back on and the Royal York was once again opened for business, this time under the stewardship of the YHA.

Royal York YHA Brighton
~ Entrance to The Royal York YHA, Brighton ~
Walking past this building hundreds of times I have always wanted to go in and find out about it, intrigued by the blue plaque on the wall and the glimpses of antique interior that you can see through the windows.
Royal York YHA Brighton blue plaque
~ William and Adelaide plaque,
The Royal York YHA, Brighton ~
Becky Hudgell, the new manager kindly offered to show me around and let me take snaps to share on this blog. The rooms off the foyer are generous in size, to the left is a dining room with fabulous art on the walls and information about some fascinating Brighton eccentrics. One of the most famous, Martha Gunn known for dipping clients in the sea, was granted special privileges by the Prince Regent and allowed free access to the Royal Pavilion kitchens.
Royal York YHA Brighton, dining room ceiling
~ Ornate dining room ceiling
The Royal York YHA, Brighton ~
Above us the ceiling is a show-stopper with the most delicate and pretty flourishes and patterns. At the back is an equally ornate fireplace, perfectly preserved and freshly painted.
Royal York YHA Brighton bar
~ Bar at The Royal York YHA, Brighton ~
To the right of the foyer is a large seating area, with large art works on some of the walls and an enormous and generous bar. There are also photos of Brighton on other walls with interesting bits of information, such as the story about Charles II who was reputedly carried piggyback along Black Lion lane during his escape to France.
Royal York YHA Brighton
~ Photos of Regency architecture
The Royal York YHA, Brighton ~
Becky and I head upstairs and the first room we go into is one of their premium rooms, which when booked guarantees you a sea view. In front of us we have a spectacular view of Brighton wheel, while through another window is an incredible view of the sea. The bed looks enormous and inviting and costs as little as £60 a night.
Royal York YHA Brighton premium bedroom
~ Bed in a premium double
The Royal York YHA, Brighton ~
At this point I ask the obvious question, Can you book a specific room? (I've not actually seen any others, but I'm sold). No, says Becky, they cannot guarantee a particular room nor can they offer room service, but you can expect everything that you'd get in a hotel room.
Royal York YHA Brighton en suite
~ en suite bathroom
The Royal York YHA, Brighton ~
Next Becky shows me some other smaller doubles that face the fountain in the Old Steine and are just as lovely and available for £40 a night, each with its own plush, en suite.
Royal York YHA Brighton standard double
~ Double room at The Royal York YHA, Brighton ~
In total they have 51 rooms available and have 180 beds. So far I haven't mentioned their dorms, but these are just as nice, if a little less private! Most of the dorms are four or six bed, with only one eight bed and one specifically designed for wheel chair users. Each bunk has its own light point and electric socket and prices start from £14.50, again with an en-suite to every room. The YHA are definitely fulfilling their brief to make travel affordable.
Royal York YHA Brighton Queen Adelaide room
~ Queen Adelaide room at The Royal York YHA, Brighton ~
Becky takes me to check out two dorms, the Queen Adelaide room with balcony and the King William suite, also known as room 112. It is from the balcony in the Queen Adelaide room where in 1829 the Duke and Duchess of Clarence, who were to become King William IV and Queen Adelaide a year later, were greeted by a joyful crowd singing patriotic songs.
Royal York YHA Brighton dorm
~ King William suite dorm at The Royal York YHA, Brighton ~
Run as a Not for Profit organisation, over the next three years the YHA aim to reach over a million under 26 year olds as well as funding individual children to go on school trips. Although the YHA embraces all ages and has a large and loyal number of life members, their target market is still the under 26s.

As Becky put it, The YHA enables young people to have experiences they wouldn't have a chance to otherwise.
Royal York YHA Brighton ornate fireplace
~ Ornate fireplace at The Royal York YHA, Brighton ~
The aim of this particular YHA, the Royal York, is to become the best hostel in the world. With Becky's experience running the YHA in Oxford Street, London for five years and taking it to third best hostel in the world in its fourth year, I'd say their chances are pretty good. It's certainly the most outstanding hostel I've ever seen by far.

Click on YHA to find out more

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