We were provided with accommodation in exchange for an honest review. We paid for out days out and meals ourselves. All words & images are my own.
We spent last weekend exploring Canterbury, staying in one of the YHA Canterbury wooden cabins as our base. Canterbury is a city in the heart of Kent, steeped with history. As city breaks go it’s a great one to pick, as there is so much do see and do in and around the city walls, as well as further afield – the coast is a mere 6 miles away!
Our Cabin, called Frodo Lodge is one of three located in the rear gardens of YHA Canterbury. The main building which houses the reception, dorm and private rooms as well as a dining room, lounge and fully equipped kitchen areas is a gorgeous old Victorian house with lots of character.
Frodo Lodge is a wooden octagonal structure with a pointed roof, room for five people to sleep and an ensuite shower room. There is a porch area for muddy boots, and as you enter through the door you see a double bed, with a single bunk above it and another bunk bed to the side. All the beds are made from wood and built into the structure of the cabin. It’s all incredibly well made and put together with no creaking or wobbling! Each bed has a duvet and pillows, as well as a reading light, plug socket and a storage area right next to it.
The bathroom has a double sized shower cubicle with a basin, small mirror, hand soap and loo. YHA doesn’t provide towels (one of the ways they keep the costs so low) but if you aren’t able to bring your own you can hire or purchase them from reception.
Our lodge was really toasty and warm when we arrived, we were a little wary of being effectively ‘in the garden’ in the middle of November in a wooden cabin but the heating is super efficient and it was so cosy inside. The lighting isn’t really bright, so once the evening draws in it’s quite dark in the lodge but with all the reading lamps on and the main light which runs around the outside walls it had a lovely glow. There are also two double glazed lead paned windows with blinds for privacy for natural light in the day time.
There is a bench seat, a storage cupboard and coat hooks along with a full length mirror. You can also store things under the bunk beds and in the corners of the lodge – so plenty of storage even if you were staying for longer than a weekend like we did.
Inside each lodge is also a small fridge, a microwave, a kettle and mugs with tea and coffee. You’re able to borrow crockery and cutlery from the main building if you wanted to eat in your lodge or of course you could use the proper kitchens there if you wanted to make something more elaborate than a microwave meal! In the summer it would be lovely to eat outside and there are plenty of picnic benches around!
A couple of people asked about how YHA is different to a hotel when I shared where we were on instagram stories, so here’s a bit of an explanation. YHA is a charity organisation that began in the 1920’s in the UK and was set up to provide opportunities and adventure to people who may not be able to afford it. Now there are 150 properties around the UK, YHA is still run as a charity and anyone who stays in one is contributing to the charity. Shared dorm rooms are available, but also private dorms, rooms and cabins too – which means that for families and those who would prefer not to share with strangers there are plenty of options.
The kids and I stayed at a YHA in London last month in half term, and for a central london room with an ensuite shower room we paid £67 for our room – every other hotel I looked at was well over £100 and had awful reviews! YHA are basic in provisions (ie no TV in the rooms, bring your own towels etc) but are clean, comfortable and really great value for money! Plus not many hotels have cosy wooden lodges as an option either!
As we arrived fairly late on Friday night and after a few hours in the car we were too tired to head out to find a restaurant, but YHA Canterbury serves pizza each night and then a rotating two course menu each evening. Friday was curry night and it was amazing! We waited in the spacious lounge (with Athena getting some reading practise in) and then we were called down to the dining room and tucked in! The kids shared a pizza which had such a generous helping of mozzarella too! So although we could have made our own meal in the kitchen it was great not to have to!
Frodo Lodge at YHA Canterbury was the perfect place to use as our base for exploring historic Canterbury, it took us around 15 minutes to walk into town, and we left the care safely in the YHA car park (which is free!) although after a day of sightseeing we got a taxi back, which cost £5.
Canterbury was looking super festive, with their Christmas market on from now until Christmas eve. There are lights up all over the town, and the historic buildings and cobbled streets added to the festive feel. We spent the morning walking round the Cathedral which is absolutely lovely though sadly the outside was covered in scaffolding! It dates back to 1070 although there was a place of worship there from 597 – isn’t that practically unimaginable?! There was so much history there to explore!
We also visited the Westgate Tower, which is one of the city gates and also has a lot of history as it was a jail and also a police station over the centuries. It also has a great view over the city from the top of the tower!
We explored a lot of Canterbury and found some really cool sights. We followed riverside walk to the centre of town and found some boats for punting, though that only happens in the summer months. We also found a giant wicker horse and a very wonky bookshop with an even wonkier door!
The Christmas market was just the fun and festive thing we needed to stroll round after a long day sightseeing. We stopped to watch a local youth choir singing, smelt grilled hot dogs, chestnuts and sugared nuts and saw lots and lots of lovely gift ideas being sold at all the quaint wooden huts! There was a giant snow globe and brightly lit helter skelter too – though after the twisty spiral staircase at Westgate towers none of us fancied it! Arlo makes a very solemn little nut cracker though!
There is also so much more to do in this part of Kent, you’re not far from the coastline and are right on the edge of the Kent Downs. On Sunday we took a walk round Blean Woods which looked just beautiful in the autumn sun. There is a woodland art trail there, and it’s around 15 minutes by car from YHA Canterbury – the perfect base to explore the area from!
With locations all over the country I’d definitely recommend looking up YHA’s wherever you’re visiting for a family and purse friendly welcome!