The perfect budget weekend in York: Why a HostelPass is the smart way to stay in the UK this year

Budget weekend in York - view of York Minster

A weekend in York does not disappoint!

View of York Minster from York museum

Staycations continue to be hugely popular this year, and a weekend in York is well deserving of a top spot on your travel list if you haven’t already been (or even if you have!). The beautiful Viking city may not seem huge at first, but you can easily spend a day simply getting lost in the ‘snickelways’. There is honestly SO much to do in York to easily fill a weekend.

Since the first time I visited York in 2018, I’ve been a little bit enamoured with this quirky city with all its history, winding streets and fabulous architecture. Sadly though, I’d only ever been up there on day trips, so when I was given the opportunity to spend a little longer there with HostelPass, I simply couldn’t resist!

Disclaimer: Although I stayed at the Astor York Hostel for a PR trip with HostelPass, all opinions expressed in this blog are unbiased and 100% my own.

Weekends and Away uses affiliate links to products. I may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links, however there is no extra charge to you.

Staying in York on a budget

With staycations continuing to be hugely popular in the UK this year as a result of confusion over foreign travel rules, constantly changing red, amber and green lists, and expensive PCR tests to name a few, the price of staying just about anywhere, including York, has skyrocketed!

The rising cost of accommodation has certainly made it more difficult to travel on a budget. With the cheapest last minute weekend hotel prices in York being in the hundreds, staying in a hostel could be a perfect solution, allowing you to get away and still stay somewhere comfortable with an actual roof over your head (rainy campsites I’m looking at you!).

Hostels can often get a bad rap as being noisy, uncomfortable, unclean or just generally not somewhere you’d enjoy staying, but having stayed in a few – both in the UK and in Europe, I have to disagree! In fact, I often find that hostels offer much more contemporary and relaxing surroundings and can’t be beaten when it comes to socialising on a trip. If I’m travelling solo I actually prefer to stay in a Hostel over a hotel as it’s easier to make new travel friends and find out insider tips of things to see, do and eat in the area. Sure, you get the occasional noisy neighbour, but a decent pair of earplugs will make all the difference!

The main appeal of hostels too. of course, is the price. Many hostels offer a bed for as little as £10-£15 per night, depending on what kind of dorm room you choose. As I mentioned though, prices do fluctuate depending on season and demand, which can make budgeting for a trip in advance more difficult. That’s exactly where HostelPass comes in!…

Beautiful street in York, UK

What is HostelPass?

HostelPass logo

So you might be wondering “what is a HostelPass?”. Well, it’s actually a pretty simple but great idea! When you buy a UK HostelPass you are essentially buying a fixed price pass for the number of nights you choose, that you can use in a huge selection of great quality hostels across the UK. The beauty of the HostelPass is that once you have paid your pass price, you can book your hostel accommodation, whether it’s for one hostel or a different one for each night you have purchased, safe in the knowledge that your accommodation price is fixed.

Using a HostelPass – how does it work?

Using a HostelPass is really easy too! In fact there are only a few simple steps between finding a pass that’s right for you and spending the weekend exploring somewhere fabulous like York!

Here’s how it works:

1. Choose your pass – you can pick the number of night you want to pre-purchase in hostel accommodation in the UK. Currently you can choose either 5 nights, 7 nights or 10 nights.

2. Pick your hostels – Once you’ve chosen a pass, you’ll be able to book your accommodation through the HostelPass booking site. You can choose from loads of fantastic hostels that have been personally vetted by the HostelPass team to ensure they meet their high quality standards. Places you can visit with your pass include:


  • Bath
  • Brighton
  • Bristol
  • Cambridge
  • The Lake District
  • Liverpool
  • London
  • Manchester
  • Newcastle
  • Oxford
  • York

3. Go explore! – Your accommodation is booked and paid for, all you need to do now is check in and start exploring the UK.

Find out more about booking a UK HostelPass here

My stay at the Astor York Hostel with HostelPass

My room at Astor York hostel
Room tour of Astor York Hostel

HostelPass (virtually) in hand, I decided to book a stay at the Astor York Hostel. The Astor appealed to me as it is located a short walk into the city centre – perfect for exploring, but also because the building itself oozes a unique kind of charm. In fact the Astor York is a grade II listed building, and actually used to be a hotel several years ago, which is why you’ll find that many of the dorm rooms have an en suite bathroom – quite an unusua feature for a hostel!

Despite being a big old building, the interior of the Astor York was modern and fresh, with simple, comfortable and functional dorm rooms. As you can see from the photo, there was a good amount of space to safely store your luggage under the bed, which could be secured with a padlock if needed. The dorm rooms were also securely locked and required a keycard to enter.

A warm welcome

The thing that most impressed me about the Astor York was the friendliness of the staff – everyone was happy to chat to you and give you their recommendations about the best things to see and do in York, as well as being able to give you general practical information about your stay at the Hostel.

A particular highlight was the offer of some homemade veggie lasagne when I arrived! A huge batch had been made for guests to enjoy free of charge on Thursday night when I arrived, and it not only unexpected but absolutely delicious!

Lasagne night at Astor York
My remote work setup at the Astor Hostel

A great place for remote working too!

If you’re anything like me, you’ll have all the travel plans and none of the annual leave! Fortunately, I do split my time each week between working at the office and working remotely, so as long as the wifi is strong I don’t need to be tied down to one location!

This is exactly what I did at Astor York. Arriving on Thursday night, I still had Friday at work to get through before I could properly let loose around the sights and delights of York. There’s plenty of seating and tables where you can quite comfortably set up with your laptop. I plumbed for a nice spot in front of one of the huge windows at the front of the building and got settled in for the day. It was a quiet and comfortable space to work in with the added bonus of being right next door to the kitchen where you can help yourself to as much tea and coffee throughout the day as you like.

What are the benefits of using a HostelPass instead of booking direct?

The key benefit of using a HostelPass is that you know exactly how much your accommodation will cost for your trip, regardless of which hostel you decide to stay in, because you’ve already paid a set price. This means you can budget for your whole trip more accurately, leaving you with a much better idea of how much you’ll have left to spend on all of the delicious street food in York!

Booking in this way can help you save money on fluctuating hostel prices in peak seasons too, making it a pretty sweet deal for budget UK staycations.

You also get peace of mind that the hostel you are going to be staying in has been researched and vetted by HostelPass to make sure it stands up to their quality standards. So no nasty surprises when you check in, just a comfortable and cosy stay!

The Shambles in York

How to get a HostelPass

Ready to plan your great British staycation on a budget? You can book your trip to York and beyond with HostelPass easily online. Visit the HostelPass website to book here, you can also follow HostelPass on Instagram here for some great budget travel tips for the UK and Europe.

Top budget things to do in York

As I mentioned further up, York makes for a fantastic weekend away, and there’s plenty of ways you can fill a weekend in York whilst sticking to a budget too. Here are a few of my favourite things to do in York that won’t break the bank.

The Shambles on a rainy day

The Shambles

No visit to York is complete without a walk down the Shambles! Full of quaint and quirky shops, it’s not hard to see the resemblance between this very real street and the fictional Diagon Alley of the Harry Potter world.

In fact, the street has become such a popular attraction for fans of the wizarding world, that most of the shops here are flogging some kind of Harry Potter themed goods. There’s also a Christmas shop in the street that sells gorgeous festive decorations all year round – I do feel a little sorry for the staff who have to listen to the Christmas music in there every day though!

Top tip – if you want to get a good photo at the Shambles you’ll need to get there early! Before 9am on a weekend you should find the street relatively empty, but once the shops open this street becomes absolutely packed with sightseers!

Do a free walking tour of York

Whilst in York for the weekend I did a fantastic free walking tour, which runs twice daily, every day.

The tour is run by the Association of Voluntary Guides to the City of York, and unlike a lot of free walking tours, there is absolutely not expectation or obligation to tip at the end of the tour. The guides are all local residents who have a genuine passion for the beautiful city of York which they call home and who gladly volunteer their time to share the city’s vast stories and legends.

Walking tours are also a great way to familiarise yourself with the city you’re visiting and gives you a new perspective on landmarks that you may not have otherwise noticed.

AVG tours of York run daily, meeting outside the museum, but must be booked in advance. Find out more about the tour route here, and you can book a tour here.

York minster on a sunny day
York Minster view through flowers
A hidden view of York Minster on the free walking tour of York

Walk the York City Walls

The views from York city walls

Another free thing to do in York is to walk the city walls. Parts of the city walls date back to around 700 years ago, giving you a chance to walk through York’s medieval past.

The York city wall trail is regarded as being the best in Britain, with much of the circular route remaining in tact today.

Whilst you won’t find the most spectacular views all the way around, there are some very pretty views over York Minster and it’s a great way to explore every corner of the city and climb a number of its Bars and Towers.

Indulge in York street food scene!

If there’s one thing I love it’s street food, and believe me when I say that the street food scene in York is nothing short of epic!

The great thing about street food too, is that you can get great quality food in generous portions and each dish is usually no more than £5-£10, meaning you’ll have enough change to sample a few dishes!

The first venue that you need to visit is the Shambles Market, just behind the main street – The Shambles. Here you’ll find a nice covered outdoor seating area surrounded by a variety of street food vendors. I tried the sweet chilli chicken and rice from Thai Season and then one of the sweet crepes from Krep – both were humungous and absolutely delicious.

The second street food venue that I’d recommend you try out is SPARK: York – this place was so good we went back a second time! If you’re hungry you can’t go wrong with a chicken burger from Clucking Oinks or some of the loaded fries from Tricolor.

Shambles Market street food
Street food in York
York street food

Get lost in the York Snicket Ways!

Exploring the snickleways of York
York snicketeways

One of the best ways to spend a weekend in York is by getting absolutely lost in all the hidden streets, alleyways and courtyards that weave together forming the city centre.

The York ‘Snickleways‘ are the alleways that run through the city centre, transporting you from a busy street to a hidden courtyards and beyond in just moments. Some are well know, whilst others you will just stumble across, but it’s all part of the fun of exploring the city. It’s also a great way to discover some fantastic hidden bars, restaurants and independent shops. 

Save it for later – put a pin in it!

Why you should use a hostelpass for your staycation pin

York staycation with HostelPass pin

Visiting York on a budget pin

More from my travels

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.