Do something we’ve never done before? I’m always up for a new adventure especially when it involves travelling. We was recently asked to go glamping with YHA and I just couldn’t say no.
We had been given the option to go anywhere in the UK as long as it was a glamping experience, we chose to stay quite local and head to YHA South Downs which is in East Sussex, about an hour away from us. We have been glamping before in bell tents, so we bravely opted to stay in a Landpod.
This blog post is a review of our two night stay with YHA South Downs. I have a video at the bottom which I hope you’ll enjoy watching too.
About YHA & Check In Experience
I had never heard of YHA and my eyes have been truly opened to the amazing things they are doing. YHA is a charity that transforms young lives through travel and adventure. This is something I am striving to do for my girls but YHA have a deeper goal.
YHA fund stays for families and young people facing hardship. They are giving them the opportunity to gain confidence, new skills and a new outlook on the world. Everyone who stays at one of the 150 hostels, campsites or cabins are helping them achieve their work as a youth charity. It’s truly an amazing concept and I feel quite passionate and definitely more open to staying in hostels with YHA again in the future.
We arrived at the check in time of 5pm at South Downs. What we have come to realise is there are only a few members of staff on site, we did have to wait a few moments for somebody to return but she was very friendly in welcoming us to the hostel.
I expected to be handed a map of the accommodation but instead she gave us a tour. I saw them do this for other guests too so it wasn’t just because I was there to review. Having the tour was really useful and we could ask any questions we may have. It’s worth noting that there is no staff on site after 10pm so check in is 5-10pm daily and check out is by 10am on the day of departure.
Parking is free at YHA South Downs. There is a decent sized car park around the back of farm and a few spaces in the courtyard. They didn’t seem to be very strict about the parking and we managed to get a space in the courtyard for our stay.
The farmhouse is where all the action happens for guests staying. It is a secure house with a code to enter. You are able to access the farmhouse 24 hours each day. Inside the farmhouse there are several private rooms to stay in as well as the main facilities which I explain below.
The farmhouse is really clean throughout and warm. This made the perfect place to escape the Autumnal weather outside. This is a communal area so all guests staying at YHA South Downs can access it. I have always avoided “shared” accommodation places but actually I quite enjoyed the communal feel.
The farmhouse is very close to the road but is does have fencing or a wall surrounding it. You can hear the traffic noise but it wasn’t overpowering for me at all. There is also a railway line nearby which you can hear every so often. Otherwise, it’s in a beautiful countryside and you can indulge on stunning views.
The girls were able to explore freely and run around the gardens with so much joy. They loved the freedom.
There is two communal lounge areas to enjoy throughout the day.
The larger room has plenty of seating options and a television. We also found some games in the cupboard although they were a little sparse and could use some updating/replacing if I’m truly honest. The girls found the junior monopoly game and we spent a great deal of time playing that together over the two nights we were with YHA South Downs.
The smaller lounge which is labelled as the “Quiet Room” had a stunning country style fireplace and a well stocked book shelf. We didn’t spend any time in this room as my girls are anything but quiet, and it was usually occupied with families playing card games. Very sweet!
We made use of the big lounge a lot during our stay. It was lovely to watch telly with other families and the girls interacted with other children too. It was a warm refuge before bedtime and the perfect place to charge our phones too. Priorities!
Toilet & Washing Facilities
There are several toilet and washing facilities in the farmhouse. There’s also an outside camping toilet which seemed to be locked the entire duration of our stay. This didn’t bother me too much as the weather was so cold I definitely would rather shower inside.
The toilets (two downstairs and some upstairs too) were always clean and tidy. We never had a time when there wasn’t any toilet roll.
The wet room was also clean throughout the day and we never had to queue despite YHA South Downs being busy. We got straight in. The only downside to the wet room was that it didn’t drain very quickly, meaning I had to stand in a pool of water for a while before I could get myself dressed. It would have also been useful to have a shelf of some sort or hooks to put belongings on.
As I said earlier, we picked to stay in a Landpod. This is not something we’ve ever done before but had always intrigued me. The Landpods sleep five adults. As you may know, we are a two adult and three child family. It was definitely a cosy two nights.
The landpods are fully waterproof and have a blackout cover over the top. This cover is insulated and also has the ability to be removed in dryer or warmer conditions to get the real outdoors feeling. Sadly it wasn’t the weather for us to experience that.
Our pod had all bedding and pillows for our guests. It was really clean and we only spotted one spider our entire stay. There isn’t any electricity inside the pods however there is a battery pack included which lights up the LED lighting inside the pod. It was quite dark despite the lights being on full but I think that sort of comes with the territory.
Inside there is a double bed bunk bed, does that make sense?! Then there’s a cute L shaped bench, the longer one can double up as a single bed which Freya used and was actually really comfy. The mattresses are really comfortable, Hubby kept joking that it wasn’t like his home mattress, but I found them great.
The battery pack did have a USB and a socket to be able to charge your devices or hairdryer for example. We used this on the first night and by the following evening the battery was low. The reception desk did kindly pop the battery pack on charge for us but there wasn’t enough time to get a full charge. Despite the battery pack running out, the lights continued to work. I think this was thanks to the solar panel on the Landpod roof.
It was a chilly stay, but not as cold as I expected thanks to the insulated roofing and cosy atmosphere. The landpod definitely wouldn’t be a place to stay all day long due to lack of space, but makes the perfect base for adventures.
Cooking & Dining Facilities
Ahead of our trip I wasn’t aware of just how well equipped the “Kitchen Facilities” were. We stupidly didn’t take much food as whenever we have been glamping in the past, we have been limited to things like noodles or hot dogs and snacks like crisps.
When we went on our tour I was so surprised to find a fully functioning and very equipped kitchen in the farmhouse. During the two evenings we witnessed other guests cooking up some amazing smelling dishes for their families. I felt very jealous.
However, have no fear because there is a brilliant cafe on site called the Courtyard Cafe. It’s where the reception is. It is open from 7:30am to 9am for guests to have breakfast then it is open to guests and public throughout the day until 8pm.
Breakfast is around £7 for adults and £4 for children. It includes a full english and continental breakfast like croissants, cereal, toast and fruit. It was really well cooked and absolutely delicious. There is a limited amount of spaces to sit and I’d recommend arriving earlier than later so you can get a space.
We decided to have our dinner at the Courtyard Cafe on our last night there. We ordered one pizza with extra pepperoni, nachos and some fries. It came to £17.50 in total. The food came out and we was really astonished by the quality and portion size. There was plenty of food for all of us to share around and be completely full! It was a really lovely meal and we had the Courtyard Cafe to ourselves for the majority of our family meal.
Things To Do Nearby
YHA South Downs is definitely a base rather than a holiday park to stay on. Brighton and Eastbourne beach are equally about half an hour away from YHA South Downs. These two areas have a great list of things to do for both adults and families.
YHA South Downs also offer lots of country walks to keep you occupied.
For us we planned a trip to Drusillas. Drusillas is a ten minute drive and is such a great place to go with children. We was really lucky with the weather too, it was bright and wasn’t too cold. We had a lovely day and it totally wore the girls out ready for our last night in the Landpod.
I wanted to give Night Time a separate section because this was the first camping or glamping location where I didn’t feel absolutely terrified once the sun went down.
YHA South Downs has loads of lighting outside and lighting activated by sensors in the hallways of the farmhouse too. Our landpod itself had a sensor light over the door way too. Both nights I had to hop across the grass (which is such a short distance from the farmhouse) to use the toilet and I didn’t feel scared. I walked quite relaxed actually.
On our last night we asked the Reception for some firewood to make a fire. Hubby is no Bear Grylls and we had to go back to ask for a lighter as we couldn’t get the fire going first time. The staff are just so friendly and helpful all of the time. The girls loved the fire but was a bit disappointed for not having marshmallows with us. The fire was a lovely way to end our stay.
We had a truly eye opening experience with YHA South Downs and it was quite unlike any of our glamping experiences. Staying at a YHA is a much cheaper option for a holiday base and by staying there you are helping other young families. It’s a wonderful cause and reason to stay with them.
I filmed our little mini break which gives you a much better look around. I hope you enjoy it and will consider subscribing.
Disclosure: This is a collaborative post, our stay with YHA was gifted.