The first impression of Hostel YHA Pen-Y-Pass is that it could do with a lick of paint and a bit of a tidy up -- this impression is reinforced by the bathrooms. However, once you scratch below the surface, it is an appealing, old-school-style YHA, popular with walkers and outdoors enthusiasts.
The location makes this hostel -- it is tucked back off the Llanberis Pass in the heart of Snowdonia. If you look out of the dining room, the formidable shape of Crib Goch looms above you, and if you sit outside with a coffee or a beer, you can watch a seemingly endless stream of hikers coming and going along the Pyg and Miner's Tracks to the Snowdon summit. There are only a couple of car parking spaces; otherwise it is the (expensive) car park across the road, but buses run from Llanberis and drop you outside. The remoteness and mountains surrounding the hostel means there is no Wi-Fi or mobile phone signal.
Rooms and Bathrooms
The rooms are standard YHA dorms. The eight-bed dorms are reasonably spacious and the bunks are clean and comfortable. There aren't as many plug points as would be ideal in a room of this size and the storage space is quite limited, but the overall impression is positive. The bathrooms are the biggest drawback to this hostel. There is no doubting there cleanliness, but they are very old fashioned, and the showers in particular are in serious need of an update. There are plenty of them, but they are the main area that lets the hostel down.
Considering the number of beds the hostel has -- sixty -- there is a great deal of really good common space. There is an education room, which can be used by groups, and a games room with a selection of board games and a pool table. There are two dining rooms (self catering and catered) and a small bar area selling excellent local beers as well as wine. The common areas do seem to be quite quiet and this doesn't seem to be a hostel that attracts the party crowds! Additionally there is a small patio area with picnic tables at the front of the hostel. The staff seem to operate from the bar area, which is used as reception rather than the desk right in front of the entrance. There is a small collection of maps and books about the area that can be used within the hostel, plus a small selection for sale. The kitchen is small but functional and clean and has all the crockery and cutlery needed to produce a meal.
This hostel is situated in a beautiful area and has historical associations with climbing, including Everest climbers, which makes it an excellent place to stay for those with an interest in the great outdoors!