I am writing this on our iPad using the Okehampton youth hostel's free wifi. Every time we stay at a youth hostel I have the same thoughts.
-all four of us can stay in the same room (very important with small children, and not common in British B&Bs which are set up two in a room)
-drying rooms! Can you imagine four people's wet bike gear spread all over a travelodge?
-locked bike sheds
-use of a communal kitchen, so nice for preparing a generous picnic
-location: they are always near good walking or biking
-tv/games room, perfect for exhausted little ones who have been urged a mile beyond endurance
-the smell! Like a boys locker room, yuck!
-the general shabbiness is a bit depressing
-sharing a kitchen is fine if everyone is clean and disciplined. When they are not is like a freshman dorm experience all over again (and not the good parts!)
-we always take an en-suite room because of the kids, and the showers are always terrible, hardly any water and none of it hot. A tepid trickle anyone?
My final thought is that youth hostels I stayed at in Germany 20 years ago where much cleaner. Probably a cultural thing. This is no put down of the Brits. I've never stayed in a US youth hostel but I would expect it to be much the same.
-Ute, I packed trainers (also known as tennis shoes), cute ankle boots, and hiking boots
-over the past two days, I have biked 18 miles, and hiked the moors up to a bronze age hill fort and then over to a natural tor. I don't feel tired or sore! I think this exercise lark I've been on for the last five weeks has really paid off!