Easiest way to cheap accommodation
On payment of a small membership fee of Rs1,550, Youth Hostel Association of India gives you access to cheap accommodation at over 4,000 hostels and hotels in over 90 countries.
If you’re only demand is that your accommodation be clean and well located, consider becoming a member of Youth Hostel Association of India (YHAI). Their wide network of hostels and hotels ensures you’ll have a place to stay in most of the world at a fraction of the cost. Currently, they have arrangements with over 4,000 hostels in 90 countries, but most of them within India. Here’s what it’s all about:
Getting membership: You can find the form on the YHAI website, but will need to mail in your application, along with a demand draft of the membership fee, to the organisation. Lifetime membership for those above the age of 18 is Rs1,550, but one- and two-year memberships are also available.
Making a booking: Members gain access to any hostel with which YHAI is tied-up. This includes the wide network of hostels and hotels within the country and across the globe. With over 4.5 million members competing, finding accommodation isn’t very easy, particularly if you don’t plan ahead. In doing our research, we found that many of the hostels within India were booked for at least a couple of weeks. All availability can be checked at www.hihostels.com. While many of the rooms offer dormitory-style accommodation, we found many listings where this was not the case. Often, there was also a slightly more expensive option of air-conditioned rooms.
Price difference: There’s usually a significant price difference between the rates YHAI offers, as compared to a regular hotel. Sure, you can’t compare a dormitory to a hotel room, but the discounts are noticeable even when there are rooms on offer. For example, for a single traveler, we were shown rates of Rs400 for a non-a/c room and Rs410 for an air-conditioned room. In the metros, finding decent accommodation at such low rates is otherwise impossible, particularly if you’re only going to look online. For the same date (September 7, 2013) on Trip Advisor, for example, the cheapest air-conditioned room we were able to find in New Delhi was Rs1,100.
Rock-bottom rates aren’t the norm. There is no standard rate. The price depends on the facilities on offer by the hotel or dormitory that has tied up with the YHAI. There always is a discount, however, if you’re a member. For example, the rate at Srinagar’s Hotel Mirage is Rs2000 a night for two adults via YHAI, but on the official website of the hotel, room rates start at Rs3200.
Planned trips: Aside from the hostel facilities, you could also benefit from the national and state level adventure programmes. Currently, you could sign up for a camping trip in Banikhet, go on an eco-study in the Andaman islands or do a cycling trip in Kashmir. These too are seemingly at a discounted rate. For instance, YHAI has a nature and eco-study tour to Kalapani Andaman islands for five nights starting September 16, 2013. The fee of Rs24,000 includes air fare to the islands and back from Chennai, local ferry expenses, accommodation, food and sightseeing.
Discounts: Aside from cheaper accommodation, the lifetime membership also entitles you to a wide range of discounts. Flash your card at Domino’s, for example, for a 15% discount on bills over Rs400, reduced rates for Microsoft software, discounts at Apollo Pharmacy, among other offers.