St Briavels
Photo by Thomas Tolkein CC/BY

St Briavels Castle near Lydney in Gloucestershire is a bona fide 12th Century castle featured in many ‘most haunted’ TV programmes.  Owned by English Heritage and operated by the Youth Hostel Association, St Briavels must be one of the most unusual places that you can stay for the bargain sum of £65 for a private room for 4 – yes that’s for the whole room for 4 people, not per person. Dorm beds start at £18 per person per night. Check website for details of up to date pricing and availability – this place is popular and gets booked well in advance.

If you haven’t been youth hostelling for many years you will be pleased to know that the daily chores are history so you won’t be washing up or sweeping the floors. You will be supporting an organisation that maintains some unique buildings and gives you the chance to stay in some inspirational places.  For every kid who’s dreamt of going to Hogwarts, staying the night at St Briavels may be the closest they are going to get and my children were raring to go.

St Briavels
Photo: Philip Blayney CC

The castle at St Briavels has been many things over the years, a hunting lodge for King John in the 13th Century, a courtroom, a debtors prison and an armaments store. Executions took place here and it’s easy to believe that the souls of the imprisoned and the executed may still wander the uneven stony corridors within <shiver>.

We had a family dorm room for 6 people and our friends had a family room for 4 people up a stone spiral staircase. Our room, the Oubliette, holds some ghastly secrets. The dorms are basic with bunk beds and spartan furniture.  You don’t come here for luxury accommodation, you come here for the experience!

St Briavels

We had booked in advance for the Saturday evening Medieval banquet – again check website for availability, pricing and booking arrangements.  If you are of a nervous disposition and don’t want to stay in the castle you can still book for dinner.  They also do a supper club some evenings or you can self-cater using their kitchen. There is a pub next door to the castle too.

At St Briavels, you can get in the medieval mood by dressing for the occasion in period attire. They have costumes to borrow or take your own. Suitably garbed up we joined our fellow guests in the medieval dining hall. Our companions were a Canadian school hockey team on tour, 2 other families and a walking group. Wearing a wimple sure breaks down the barriers between groups. Our host for the evening was a raconteur of medieval tales – a wonderful host and entertainer. The meal was served medieval style without cutlery.  If you have ever wondered how to eat potage soup without a spoon now’s your chance to find out. The food was delicious – chicken and vegatables followed the soup and then cake. All accompanied by drinks from the bar, much banging on tables and lots of medieval story telling.

After dinner there was a mystery to solve around the castle which gave the chance to explore lots of the rooms. A big hit with the kids.

And so to bed across the stone courtyard ……unfortunately I didn’t sleep very well. Whether it was a ghostly presence or just plain freezing outside I was cold even when I nabbed the duvet off one of the empty beds in our room.  A restless night over, we made our own breakfast in the small kitchen the next morning with supplies we brought with us but you can opt for the hostel breakfast.  A tour of the castle followed with the warden telling us the ghostly tales and history of St Briavels- absolutely fascinating. The graffiti carved into the walls by prisoners hundreds of years ago is still there, the prison tower now being a dorm. King John stayed here regularly so you also step in the footsteps of royalty. Our room, the Oubliette turned out to be the most haunted room in the castle and I had ‘slept’ in the most haunted bed #thatexplains it.


St Briavels

Following the tour we tried our hands at archery in the castle gardens before setting off to explore the area. With Symonds Yat, Goodrich Castle and the Wye Valley on the doorstep, the castle makes a great base. St Briavels though is a destination in itself and a truly unusual experience not to be missed.

St Briavels


St Briavels



Brighton/Wilderhope Manor/Danywenallt -Castles and Countryside of Wales/Wye Valley

Port Eynon, Wales/

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This post is in no way endorsed or sponsoredΒ by any of the organisations mentioned. Copyright Where Jo Goes


  1. February 9, 2017 / 9:37 am

    I’d not heard of this place before, sounds interesting but I don’t think I’d be brave enough to ever sleep in a haunted place again. I stayed in Malmaison Oxford, which is an old prison that they say is haunted. I didn’t sleep very well shall we say lol! #FarawayFiles

    • February 10, 2017 / 7:12 am

      Kids loved it so much. If we go back I’m asking for a less haunted room! Thanks for reading.

  2. February 9, 2017 / 10:56 am

    Sounds like an adventurous stay. I love the medieval banquet and the mystery trail but not comfortable enough to sleep in a haunted room. #FarawayFiles

    • February 10, 2017 / 7:10 am

      Feel the fear and do it anyway! πŸ˜‚ thanks for reading!

  3. February 9, 2017 / 1:00 pm

    I love unique accommodation ideas and can think of many people who would love this experience especially as it is such a reasonable price. Unfortunately I am a complete scaredy cat so it is not for me but I will share widely for the brave ones! Thanks for joining us on #FarawayFiles Jo!

    • February 10, 2017 / 7:10 am

      Yes if I had known all in advance I may have been a little alarmed! A few glasses of Winfrith the banquet helps.

  4. So awesome. “Wearing a wimple sure breaks down the barriers between groups.” This sounds like an amazing experience. Spooky. But cool! Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin

    • February 10, 2017 / 7:08 am

      Such a unique experience and so inexpensive too!

    • February 10, 2017 / 7:08 am

      Yes it’s definitely an experience! πŸ˜€

  5. February 9, 2017 / 7:11 pm

    What an absolutely fantastic idea, Jo! My kids would love everything about this – the castle, the history and the Medieval banquet. I’ll be saving this for a future visit. Wonderful share for #FarawayFiles

    • February 10, 2017 / 7:06 am

      The banquet was such fun it was a really unique experience πŸ˜€

  6. February 9, 2017 / 8:07 pm

    Sounds like a total experience and so interesting about your night’s sleep – or lack there of – and it being the most haunted bed! Yikes! #farawayfiles

    • February 10, 2017 / 7:06 am

      I wish I had known that in advance, they reveal all in the morning! πŸ˜€

  7. February 10, 2017 / 2:17 am

    Seems like a great experience! Even if it’s just for the medieval dinner. Love that you can dress up for it and get ‘character!’ Kudos to you for sleeping in the most haunted bed…!

    • February 10, 2017 / 7:00 am

      I wouldn’t have if I had known! πŸ˜‚ thanks for reading!

  8. February 11, 2017 / 9:54 am

    Awesome!!! We adore youth hostels, and this one is going straight onto my list the next time we are in the south-west of England. Don’t fancy dressing up for the medieval banquet though – that’s a bit Disneyish, no? (Although I do see that it would definitely act as a great ice-breaker between visitors). #FarawayFiles

    • February 11, 2017 / 10:01 am

      The dressing up is optional, eating with no cutlery isn’t!

  9. February 11, 2017 / 2:11 pm

    Great idea and bet everyone enjoys the ‘no cutlery’ rule! Not sure I’d fancy a haunted bed though….😬

  10. February 11, 2017 / 10:43 pm

    I don’t think I would sleep very well there either! But it is so great that a hostel welcomes families, and offers tours to discover the history of the castle. It does sound like an unforgettable experience.

  11. February 12, 2017 / 6:46 pm

    I spent Christmas there 20+ years ago. I remember getting dressed up in medieval clobber but had no idea about the haunted aspect of the place. Lovely post, thanks. Wilbur #farawayplaces

    • February 12, 2017 / 7:22 pm

      A fellow St Briavels traveller! Arise Sir Wilbur!

  12. Jude
    February 13, 2017 / 3:40 pm

    I stayed here on a school trip a very long time ago. There was definitely no evidence of paranormal activity.

  13. February 15, 2017 / 3:03 pm

    Β£64?? That’s amazingly good value. My brother in-law and his family live not too far from here, and they don’t really have the space for us all to stay. This would make a great alternative. Thanks for sharing! #FarawayFiles

  14. February 18, 2017 / 6:36 pm

    Oooh! Sounds like a great experience. Plus, I would love the dress up for the Medieval banquet! Might just be a teeny bit nervous to go to sleep afterwards πŸ˜‰

    • March 1, 2017 / 5:19 pm

      Yes the kids were braver than the adults! Thanks for reading!

  15. March 3, 2017 / 9:45 am

    This looks so cool!

    • March 3, 2017 / 10:50 am

      It’s such an unusual place! Thanks for reading.

  16. March 3, 2017 / 10:43 am

    What a fun place to stay especially with kids! #travellinkup

    • March 3, 2017 / 10:48 am

      The kids were less spooked than the adults!

  17. March 4, 2017 / 1:47 pm

    The last time I stayed somewhere that was apparently haunted I couldn’t sleep either – but I didn’t see a ghost!

    • March 4, 2017 / 8:42 pm

      You had a lucky escape!πŸ‘»

  18. March 11, 2017 / 1:43 pm

    A spooky sounding stay. Dinner sounds great fun and the castle challenges, I think I may have had a sleepless night too with the cold though. Archery looks fun and very in keeping with the castle, was this put on by the youth hostel? I hope your exploring the local area was good too and you had a dry day.

    Thank you for sharing your spooky stay on #CountryKids

    • March 11, 2017 / 2:06 pm

      Hi Fiona, yes the archery was put on by the hostel. We’ve stayed in some other hostels where they do this as well. It’s old fashioned longbow type archery. Thanks for hosting #CountryKids

  19. March 12, 2017 / 9:36 am

    This sounds amazing, such an interesting place to stay. Not sure I’d get much sleep either though!

    • March 12, 2017 / 11:45 am

      It’s really cool. Normally you would pay a fortune to stay in a castle but here you can take a whole crowd because it’s such good value.

  20. March 12, 2017 / 2:53 pm

    This looks a great place to stay. I’ve not heard of it before but is not far from my parents so I will have to look it up #countrykidsfun

    • March 12, 2017 / 3:40 pm

      It’s well worth a visit πŸ‘»!

  21. March 14, 2017 / 9:05 pm

    Great post. I’ve been wondering about taking the kids to stay in a youth hostel – fond memories of school trips in them myself – you’ve convinced me to give it a go. Not sure about the haunted room though πŸ™‚ #countrykids

    • March 14, 2017 / 9:22 pm

      I think that’s the only one that’s haunted!

  22. March 15, 2017 / 5:15 pm

    We’ve stayed in some fabulous places run by YHA, they do have some amazing properties! This one sounds like a lot of fun πŸ™‚ #countrykids

  23. March 15, 2017 / 9:08 pm

    This isn’t too far away from us. It sounds absolutely fascinating – but I am not sure I would be brave enough to stay there (even though I don’t believe in ghosts!)

  24. March 15, 2017 / 10:11 pm

    That does sound like a very interesting place to stay although I’m not sure that I’d be brave enough to try it! The medieval banquet sounds like it was so much fun – I went to one once several years ago and it was a brilliant experience. Love the archery photo too πŸ™‚ #countrykids

    • March 15, 2017 / 10:35 pm

      It’s a really fun experience πŸ‘», definitely unique!

  25. March 17, 2017 / 9:08 pm

    Ohh what a fun experience!! Although I would probably wuss out because it would probably give me the hibby jibbies plus I remember watching some TV movie about staying in a haunted mansion called Rose Red, a thriller by Stephen King and that was enough to scare the c*** out of me! #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • March 17, 2017 / 9:12 pm

      Don’t book for the paranormal weekend then!

  26. March 17, 2017 / 10:37 pm

    I am not brave enough to sleep in a haunted place, but this castle surely looks interesting to visit. I think I would not expose myself too much to the ghosts if I was there during the daytime, right?

  27. March 17, 2017 / 10:57 pm

    Wow what a neat experience even if you didn’t sleep well. I would love to stay at a castle and so neat to hear it is so affordable. Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard.

  28. March 18, 2017 / 2:21 am

    What a fun family getaway experience.
    Don’t like that you were cold, but the activities sure sound fun – my son would love them.

  29. March 18, 2017 / 8:15 pm

    You’re a braver woman than me… I’d be too much of a wuss to stay anywhere haunted haha. I love all things ghostly but the thought of actually seeing one and I’m shitting myself!! It sounds brilliant though and I laughed out loud at the wimple breaking the ice.

    • March 18, 2017 / 9:16 pm

      It was a lot of fun but so many people were executed and haunted there it’s not hard to believe they still haunt the place!

  30. March 18, 2017 / 8:24 pm

    What an amazing an interesting place. I would be quite scared though πŸ™‚

    • March 18, 2017 / 9:16 pm

      We are planning to go back with some friends it was such fun!

  31. March 18, 2017 / 11:16 pm

    Ok that is probably way too scary for me to ever do, but at the same time totally cool! I’d probably go for the dinner and spend the night elsewhere lol…would love to hear all the stories and go on a tour though too!

  32. March 18, 2017 / 11:49 pm

    I would LOVE to stay in a castle, but not a haunted one, ha ha. Actually I am keeping a list of fab castles to visit, and this just made the list. A day visit, though!

  33. March 19, 2017 / 6:45 am

    I think my kids, even though a bit older now, would really enjoy banging on the table during dinner like medieval times. It was definately nothing allowed at any time they grew up, but it would be a bit of fun – noisy though!! #TheWeeklyPostcard

    • March 19, 2017 / 12:19 pm

      You’ve got it right – noisy but fun!

  34. March 25, 2017 / 11:58 pm

    What fun! And what a bargain, too. Not sure I could talk the lovely Mrs. TL past the haunted part, but certainly the medieval banquet and tour would be great on their own. Thanks for putting this on our radar!

  35. March 31, 2017 / 9:21 am

    This sounds like a unique experience. Thanks for pointing it out. I have been told I am too old for hostels (when traveling with my teenage daughters and booked into a “family room” in Munich) but this is worth the ‘comments’. I’d definitely do the Medieval banquet as I always have fun at these.

    • March 31, 2017 / 6:46 pm

      Never too old for hostelling Rhonda! πŸ™‚

  36. March 31, 2017 / 1:56 pm

    Great tip!! a friend and her family are going to Cardiff so I forwarded it to her. We have stayed in a haunted castle in Scotland, it was also part of the youth hostel organization. It was as well simple but fascinating. Sadly, I learnt that one closed as the maintenance was too expensive πŸ™

    • March 31, 2017 / 6:46 pm

      That’s a real shame. One of the reasons I like staying in YHA hostels is keeping fantastic buildings available to all!

  37. March 31, 2017 / 2:16 pm

    How amazing staying in a bona fide haunted place at St Briavels. It would be fun ..I think.

  38. April 1, 2017 / 9:58 pm

    YIKES!! As good value as Β£65 a night for 4 people is….you couldn’t pay me to stay somewhere like this! I’d be terrified!!

  39. April 2, 2017 / 8:00 am

    I love the idea of mystery solving around the castle, but staying for a single room in this castle is definitely not a good idea. I would give it a thought if I’d be with family or friends in a room. πŸ™‚

    • April 2, 2017 / 11:18 am

      Me too! Safety in numbers!πŸ‘»

  40. April 2, 2017 / 8:47 pm

    I usually travel on my own and I hate the idea of staying in a dorm room – the thought of sharing a room with total strangers gives me the shivers – but if there’s no other way for me to stay here, then I’d do it! πŸ™‚ I love medieval (and early modern) English history too much to miss this.

    • April 2, 2017 / 9:01 pm

      Bring some friends and book a private room! You’d love the medieval banquet!

  41. April 3, 2017 / 5:09 am

    What a great experience. I’d love to do this, too! Thanks for linking up! #wkendtravelinspiration

  42. April 3, 2017 / 7:31 am

    You are much braver than me! What a fabulous building though. It never ceases to amaze me what interesting buildings are youth hostels nowadays!

  43. April 3, 2017 / 12:54 pm

    This is so cool, never heard of it even though I am from the UK! Think I will be seeking it out when I get home, reminds me of Dracula’s castle in Romania!

  44. April 3, 2017 / 1:09 pm

    Such a beautiful building. I think I wouldn’t like to stay there though. I don’t believe in ghosts but i HATE being scared~!

  45. April 3, 2017 / 5:11 pm

    Did they do this on the Bachelor? lol. There goes any credibility I may have had!

  46. Vicki Louise
    April 4, 2017 / 8:15 am

    It’s a beautiful building, but I don’t think I’d like to stay there. I’ve always felt a bit weird and about ghosts and the paranormal, and my mind can really run away with me in places like this – probably best if I skip the overnight stay!

  47. April 4, 2017 / 5:17 pm

    I’d like to stay in any castle… especially a haunted one! So cool, thanks for sharing πŸ™‚

  48. April 4, 2017 / 6:55 pm

    I would love to do this, as long as I had someone with me. I stayed at a haunted castle once alone and needless to say I didn’t get much sleep. To many questionable bumps in the night.

  49. April 5, 2017 / 2:00 am

    Well, you’re brave! I would be running for the hills at night πŸ™‚ But archery… that’s another story. I’d love to try my hand at that1

  50. April 7, 2017 / 5:10 pm

    Seems like an interesting place to stay at. I like the idea, but I probably wouldn’t be able to take my family along with haha. #thelistlinky

    • April 7, 2017 / 6:37 pm

      πŸ‘»πŸ‘»πŸ‘» it’s not for everyone!

  51. June 21, 2017 / 12:19 pm

    This sounds like a fascinating place to stay. I don’t think I would have the courage to stay the night in a haunted place. But dinner sounds very enjoyable. #wanderfulwednesday

  52. June 21, 2017 / 4:59 pm

    What a unique place! I’d love to stay here for the thrill/adventure aspect of it…but I’m probably a bit too superstitious to end up sleeping at all! Haha

  53. June 21, 2017 / 5:55 pm

    Haha I would love to sleep in a haunted hotel! I’d probably stay under the duvet wide awake and totally scared though while my boyfriend would sleep like a baby πŸ˜€

  54. June 21, 2017 / 9:18 pm

    I don’t know if I would necessarily be up for staying somewhere haunted, but this looks like the perfect place to stay with kids! Plus you can’t beat the price either!

  55. June 27, 2017 / 2:15 am

    This sounds like so much fun! And a family dorm room where everyone can stay together?
    What an experience πŸ˜€

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