Hartington YHA hostel Room 7 then 20 review (7/10) ” Many small issues, but really low price, and possibly the best holiday location in Derbyshire” . ( Brace yourself – extensive review …)

The Good

” Charming village with plenty of small shops”.
” Great location for outdoor leisure activities”.
” Within short driving distance of caves and mountain trails”.
” Mostly polite staff”.
” Plenty of games at hostel including pool and giant chess”.
” Reliable free WIFI in one section of the bar”.
” Very Cheap, with stunning scenery on your doorstep”.

The Bad

” Loads of noise from neighbours when trying to sleep”.
” Some rooms have signs of damp”.
” Limited main-meal selection”.
” Food fairly plain except more substantial offerings”.
” Salad overpriced ?”.
” No WIFI in room”.
” Limited or impractical plug socket locations”.
” No free supplies, unlike homestay Bristol”.
” Shower light in some rooms motion sensitive”.
” Breakfast times a bit early”.
” Access code doesn’t change each day as it should”.
” Limited secure cycle storage”.
” No mobile phone signal in village”.
” Beds not comfy without sleeping between 2 Duvets”.

Location

The small and secluded village of Hartingdon, is located within a 30 minute drive of the Monsal trails’ starting point. This is a flat, smooth trail cycle ride on a disused railway line. We tackled this on Monday from the starting point named Blackwell mill. There was also caves within similar driving distances such as Poole’s cavern which I recommend.

At the YHA, the main issue was mobile signal. Situated on the hillside the YHA, suffered from no mobile phone signal. It did have steady WIFI however, which was mostly reliable. The village was quaint and pretty, with a central green. There is an antique shop, hotel, church, cheese shop, Newsagents, off-license, and some would argue most importantly, the Devonshire arms pub.
This felt like the village centrepiece, with a bold sign and outdoor seating…
After dining out there, the food was very wholesome and flavourful, with ideal portion size. You do pay a premium for this though, so expect £15 rather than 10 for a standard meal price. My venison sausages were worth it though… desserts were reasonable in cost, mostly under the £5 mark, and alcoholic drinks were good value too. I ordered the Bakewell tart and still don’t regret it. Meal selection was very good, with mostly British classics, all done well. Ravioli was offered though.
Aswell as eating out, a few hours could be consumed wandering aimlessly around the village shops and attractions for non-shopping enthusiasts. An entire day though, perhaps could be used by cheese enthusiasts, or Bakewell tart critics without leaving the village. With plenty of hills surrounding it, you don’t have to venture far to get that scenic camera snap either. Or phone snap, if you aren’t still in the dark ages …

Whilst the antique shop was a little small and pricey, with slightly restricted opening times, the other shops were handy. As mentioned, there were a couple of small supply stores, including off-license and newsagents. While the Off-license was hotter than the Sun’s core inside, it did have some preserves and meats. This may be due to the heating of the sausage rolls and turnovers. Whilst I felt my blood slowing after eating an especially buttery bacon and cheese turnover, it was very tasty and warm. Much needed after a walk in torrential rain. I would recommend if you are dripping wet as an ideal snack for mood lightening. This and a sausage roll is still less than £5, so shopping seems reasonable there. The Newsagents opposite had plenty of chocolate bars to choose from, and a fridge with soft drinks. Some fruit items were available on request.
Once you have hauled yourself away from these little treasures, you may feel like a more ambitious expedition. Many people like ourselves, would want to venture further afield. As mentioned, mountain biking and caving are 2 leisure pursuits, in combination with walking, which are potent boredom killers. The location then, is certainly more suited to those who love the outdoors. As a business stay, things would be quite tiresome. With limited quick access to towns and no internet or computers in sight. Therefore family, or couple breaks in adventurous, nature-loving people, should clearly be the focus of the YHA’s accommodation.
To help with this, the hostel reception corridor was littered with walking guides. A top-up stash could be snagged from the relatively local, Bakewell tourist centre for true adventure bookworms. Not a bad start to get you going still …
Atmosphere

The atmosphere was relaxed, yet filled with families enjoying summer breaks. Double points for catering to the intended target audience then. Unfortunately though, this made it hard to capitalise on limited activities. The pool table was constantly being used, yet it was nice to have one. The grounds had a giant chess set, which would have been good if things were sunnier. Again this wasn’t overly available, for the duration of the stay. With kids pretending to know the rules of “Giant chess”, the lack of availability on the occasional good weather evening, did begin to grate. More chess sets and pools tables may improve availability. Inside the room, things were quiet. Being in a sleepy village, helped reduce traffic noise to a minimum, and except the occasional odd noise from guests, things did seem pretty quiet on the first evening. (Noise)

The receptionist was very polite, and came across as a genuine and kind person from checkin . The kitchen staff were mixed, with some appearing very welcoming, yet others more stern. I couldn’t fault the service though, as whilst it was basic, my every need was well catered for. Small errors were apparent though.
For example …
Our tables’ wooden spoon number didn’t match the table number itself.
The wait time for the meal was short though. Limited variety was available, with jacket potatoes, sandwiches and baguettes on the lunch menu, appearing superior to the main meal options for evening service. Fortunately, adequate time was present to make up your mind with 3.5 hour service from 5:30-9pm. It was a shame breakfast was a little early …
£3.95 pint of Addle-stones cloudy was a fair price for a pint which was very pleasant. Limited tang and sweetness unfortunately. Limited options for cider were given on a drinks menu, yet magners was available, preventing Addle-stone’s being a total bachelor.

Cooking and cleaning

Dining

Breakfast

Breakfast was available for a £6 per guest charge, after pre-paying the night before. It had to be ordered from main reception using your room number. This made it a challenge at times, since reception wasn’t always manned. This also meant that on occasion, you have to walk a short distance to the bar area, in order to retrieve a member of staff. Without software in the bar area to book breakfast, they have to follow you to reception. It would be easier if a buzzer system was in place to “Call” the receptionist. At least the system means that everyone who want it, is on a list, meaning that no one is forgotten between the breakfast times.

The Breakfast serving times were a relatively short window between 7:30 and 9. At least this was detailed in the information posters on the bedroom walls. This timeframe for the hostels main clientele, may be okay, since younger children tend to get up early anyway. But for those who like a lazy morning or lay-in, this is impractical. Quite a few mornings then, we decided against breakfast due to early starts.

If you do manage to wake up in time, is it worth it ?

The answer to that is probably, just about. The tea was hot at least and “fairtrade”, if you’re interested. It was served In a small mug but milk, sugar and sweetener sachets were available in abundance. There was also the option for coffee. As for the main breakfast, it was served from the bar, and included the option for (tomatoes, beans, hash browns, bacon, sausages and scrambled eggs). You were allowed 2 of each from the servers suggestion. Bread was available, with the continental section of yoghurts or fruit, further down the bar.

Sauces were available, including tomato and brown, in sachets as required. Cutlery was available from the same station, and breakfast was held in warm metal trays to keep up to temperature. Some things were replaced throughout, to keep stock rotated.

The breakfast was lacking mushrooms, toast and black pudding though, which reduced the meaning of the term “Full” English. Whilst I ducked the tomatoes and beans, since I am not a fan, I accepted 2 of everything else. The Hash browns had a crispy, non-greasy skin, which was very nice. The inside was soft creamy mashed potato, which again hit the spot. The scrambled egg, one which I am not typically a fan of, had texture, almost like a mash of fried egg with added creaminess. This for me was very nice but suggested of “Not as described”. It would have been good to have an option for fried eggs, but for my preferences, the scrambled eggs were good. On the second occasion, the eggs were finer in texture. A little more like normal scrambled eggs. This was a shame, as it highlighted inconsistency in service. The quality of the sausages were good, with the meat tasting tender and nothing being undercooked. Neither sausages or bacon were greasy.

Unfortunately, the skin of the sausage wasn’t as crispy as it looked. It was very tough, and even the knife groaned when trying to sever it.

The problem persisted on subsequent occasions…

The Bacon seemed very dry, lacking all flavour, except for the second occasion, where it was far more succulent. With the texture of the bacon resembling cardboard on the first occasion, I was reluctant to choose again. Clearly I am glad I did but some greater consistency is required to maximise the experience.

On the second occasion I sampled a bread roll. Available from beside the main service line. This wasn’t dry, yet was crusty on the outside, as it should be. Some good marks there then, for the brown rolls. I also tried a tomato, just in case I liked it. To my astonishment, it was rather nice. It wasn’t greasy, or overcooked.

In fact, it was so not overcooked, it was practically raw…

Since I prefer raw to cooked tomato anyway, the lack of cookery shown there, actually made it rather enjoyable for me. I wouldn’t recommend though, if you are a fan of cooked, over salad tomatoes.

Overall through, the breakfast was fairly standard. Nothing to write home about, yet not too disappointing either. Due to impractical times to obtain it, and a slightly lengthy ordering system, I wouldn’t recommend. A decision made easier due to a slightly high price, for what was offered.
As an alternative though, a kitchen was available communally, located close to our Number 20, Shippen room. This was closer to Number 20, than Number 7, but provided an accessible alternative to a hot breakfast. It had an oven and microwave, meaning you could cook most things from a packet fairly straightforwardly. Probably more cheaply than £6 for a breakfast using the village shops.

Evening and daytime meals

For daytime, a separate menu was provided. This contained a light bites section, with some interesting options including Panko squid and Scampi. For portion size, they certainly were “light “, for the £4 price tag they commanded. For just £1 more, you could tuck into the other side of the menu, with more substantial offerings such as baguettes, sandwiches and jacket potatoes. A variety of jacket fillings were also available, so this menu did seem very practical and reasonable for larger lunches. They also had no issue with providing light bites, in combination with starters, for a main meal. Albeit, serving on separate plates in the evening. They did seem to charge an extra £2 on the standard £5 for dishes entitled “Salad” though. Even for health enthusiasts, for the money, they sounded too underwhelming to order.

The times were more practical than breakfast though, with a much broader range.

Light bites were offered at 3 for £11 for those interested in saving an extra pound, although I still felt these were too dear.

The evening offerings were far more scarce unfortunately. With pizza or burger, taking up most of the adult section space. The pizza, offered for less than £9, had a highly limited selection of toppings. Basically just Margherita with one extra item. If you wanted cheese with jalapeños and something else, things seemed rather expensive, for a basic pizza. The onion rings at £2.50 were good though, with a generously portioned bowl. Unfortunately, this was only a temporary offering on the specials board.

Meal 1

The light bites, still appeared more interesting, so I went with one of those, with side dishes of coleslaw and salad. This made the meal cost around £8, a price tag a bit hefty for the size of the offering. It did arrive promptly. That perhaps made up for the staff, offering cutlery which we already had on our sauce rack.

The offering was a very small portion of scampi, with a relatively colossal accompanying bowl of salad, as the scampi light bite product. You were also given a massive ramekin of tartare sauce, which meant you could drown your 4 tiny scampi if you wanted to.
I felt the offering was not only “Light”, but out of proportion.
With the side-salad and coleslaw that I also ordered, the salad was identical to the salad with the Scampi, although the French dressing garnish was tasty. Another ramekin was supplied on this same plate for the coleslaw side, which was creamy and crunchy, and had good flavour. The scampi was moist and pleasant to eat, so I had no gripes with the quality of the meal supplied.

Overall for this meal, the quality was good, but quantity was lacking for the price. The individual components had potential to be eye-catching, but were laid out in a haphazard way, by relatively inexperienced waiting staff.

Meal 2

On the second night though, after being asked if my table had ordered sausage and mash which it hadn’t, I was provided with a far more substantial hunters chicken. One that I noticed on the evolving specials board. This was very tasty with tender chicken, slightly dry and hard on the outside in texture, but the succulent interior made up for this. Wrapped in moist bacon which was far less dry than the breakfast bacon, supplied on the first occasion at breakfast. The barbecue sauce was supplied in an adequate quantity. This, at a similar price to the scampi with sides, was a far better meal, and one that I would happily order again. Maybe even tonight as I write this … Fortunately it was still on the specials board, although the options seemed more restricted than before.

On third occasion, I went for the burger offering with “Cod Goujon sandwich”, one which gave me the impression of oven-breaded cod, rather than fish fingers, which was good. The bun was a little dry though… While tasty, the accompanying sweet potato fries, were also a little dry. Salad portion, unlike with most other dishes where it seemed excessive, was highly limited. This again suggested of slight inconsistency. It did take quite a bit of tomato sauce, mayo, and vinegar to rescue. Fortunately this was fortunately supplied with our table. I would suggest though, that this sauce drench burger probably was no longer healthier than a succulent beef burger with normal fries. That said, that also would probably need drenching in sauce.

Overall then, I would recommend the specials board for a main meal, and from the lunch menu, something more substantial than the light bites, especially to fuel outside leisure pursuits. Don’t expect silver service, but polite staff who you may get to see more than once …

Accommodation access

It was quite inconvenient, and quickly became tiresome, to have to get a fresh code to enter our accommodation block from reception everyday … Far from ideal. There was also only storage facilities for 5 small bikes, in the allocated bike-shed. The code wasn’t always updated quickly either, resulting in yesterday’s code having to be entered today, just to keep me on my toes.

Cleaning facilities

Room 7

Room number 7 provided one sink outside the self-contained shower room, for a possible 8 guests. The water pressure of the tap was hard to adjust smoothly though. The sink had a mirror above it and a bar of soap, yet after washing, having to walk out of the shower room to locate the sink and mirror, made for an inconvenient arrangement. The rooms lack of toilet, wasn’t the most convenient either. It would have been nice, to have a light and switch near the mirror, and an en-suite, self-contained, bathroom rather than shower-room. Perhaps the large guest capacity would make this inadequate still though.
Whilst there wasn’t a wardrobe, there were 2 cabinets, each providing a very small storage drawer per guest.
At least my trinket collection would be safe…
Storage was definitely limited, but at least the shower light wasn’t motion activated. (This caused a few issues in Room 20, as detailed below).

There were a total of 4 plug sockets between potentially 8 guests which seemed very low. It would have been nice to have at least one for each bed.
An uncomfortable mattress and noisy room-mate, spoiled my night’s sleep.
In summary, the room was impractical for families and longer stays, due to bathroom setup and comfort. It was cheap though.

Room 20

Room number 20 was better, since it had an en-suite. Unfortunately, this had a stiff door, and bathroom door, lock. There was no shelf in the shower for toiletries. Therefore, no soap was supplied near the shower either. There was some near the sink though.
Storage for clothing was better in this room. It had 2 medium locker-sized cupboards, with hanging rails for clothes. These could hold multiple small bags, as well as 2 shirts, thanks to a small number of hangers. An extra 3 were needed per guest for an ideal scenario.
In terms of washing facilities, no hairdryer or towel was provided, which was slightly disappointing. The shower had limited power, yet was easily adjustable with the outer ring.
It’s weak jet, had good temperature. Dual control knobs would have been nice, but at least the single for temperature and pressure worked fine. The outer ring took a lot of turns to activate for pressure, yet the temperature adjustment was far too sensitive… Responding with an angry heat after a .5 adjustment in number. The colour as an off-white, didn’t have the pinnacle of visual appeal, yet didn’t detract too much from the washing experience.

The bathroom light switch was motion activated. At first, this made things easier on bathroom entry since you didn’t have to use a light switch. It became highly frustrating though, since it
meant an awkward abyss of darkness emerged, as the light cut out halfway through my shower. This then deactivated the extractor fan, probably helping grow the collection of damp mould, clinging to the walls. Fortunately, the light switches for the bedroom, were sensibly placed.

Between the 2 of us, 4 plug sockets were handy when charging gadgets. 2 of them were halfway up the wall though, so anything with a short power lead which couldn’t face dangling, would struggle. Thankfully the other 2 were practically placed by one of the beds, and were more widely useable. 4 plug sockets per guest is the ideal number, yet considering the budget market, it wasn’t bad.

Outside the rooms, drying facilities were very good. In fact, there was a whole room dedicated to clothe drying. It was of a very pleasant temperature, possessing large rails to accommodate lots of clothing items, although people managed to take up much of the rail-space by horizontally hanging their garments across it. By vertically using all of the hangers, full capacity would be a rather large number of items. With this room shared between many guests, I guess this was just as well. After trudging back from a drenching hike, the drying room drew me in like a shrine, or addiction to warmth.

Chilling in your room

With only one other guest cohabiting Room 7, things were rather peaceful. This was until, his hamster-like eating style, and Trebor mint obsession, became known. He chose to explore these past times at about midnight, to keep things entertaining. There were a total of 4 plug sockets between potentially 8 guests which seemed very low. It would have been nice to have at least one per bed.
Speaking of beds, whilst in Room 7, things were reasonably comfortable. They were certainly warm enough, if you like roasting slightly. The duvet was thick, and the bunk mattress and pillow were firm. If the roommate hadn’t been so noisy though, I think I may have slept fairly well, albeit, I didn’t.

In Room 20, the neighbours weren’t especially quiet either, not compensating for the lack of hamster-esque roommate, we had adored the company of, in the previous night. After dubbing them the “elephant family”, It was safe to say for the first 2 nights, sleep quality could have been better.

Gadgets

With no WIFI connection in either room, it was safe to say, gadget facilities were severely lacking. Zero mobile phone signal in either room, didn’t offer any recompense. Fortunately, the downstairs bar area did have WIFI, which stayed mostly reliable for an evening. Enough for me to research, and finish, the all-important, Thatchers Oak-aged vintage cider review for my blog. (See last post).

Whilst WIFI was indeed mostly reliable, it did drop out every now and again. Login appeared super easy, with just a checkbox system, which is my favourite. No email address or password shenanigans there, were required for my iPad. This, I later discovered, was only due to being signed in previously though, since my laptop required both username and password to work. Free WIFI was unlimited though, which was positive.

There were no TV’s, period. Not one in the room upstairs, nor downstairs. For this, I have mixed feelings though. Most accommodation will provide a TV, namely the “Barn”, room of Nottingham Igloo hostel, which I stayed at last year did.
This can create conflict between guests though, who wish for quiet, while others are watching. I experienced this in Nottingham, with a guest addicted to TV all night long. When you have a section to run at a festival, falling out of bed at your alarm ring, like a shot pigeon, isn’t ideal. I experienced that feeling too.

In Summary, okay charging facilities, better in rooms with less guests. Don’t expect to use a mobile phone or WIFI in your room though. Your night’s sleep won’t be spoilt by TV noise because they aren’t there. Internet access from a section of the bar, mostly reliable.

Price

At £26 per night for a typically under £20 room, things were clearly pricier than normal. This was due to summer holiday season though, so is common practise to charge a premium. For general accommodation, you still won’t get much cheaper though, with £18 at homestay bristol not in peak season, the cheapest hostel I have ever stayed at, not much less than here.
Summary

A cheap and secluded stay with free internet access and good clothe-drying facilities. Mobile phones, gadgets, and comfort weren’t totally favoured here. A great setting, with plenty to do at the hostel and nearby. Mostly friendly staff, kept the stay enjoyable. Varied, but wholesome breakfast provided a good start to the day.

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