News and media


Leading mountaineer and author reopens Highland’s highest hostel

21 June 2013

The Tomintoul Hostel has been rebranded and reopened under the management of the Tomintoul and Glenlivet Development Trust.  The Smugglers Hostel was officially reopened this week (Wednesday 19 June) by writer, broadcaster and mountaineer Cameron McNeish.

With a long established affinity with hostelling Mr McNeish, a former Hostel Warden, has previously spoken about his passion for hostelling and his belief in maintaining the Scottish hostelling product.

He said: “It is with great pleasure that I am able to officially reopen The Smugglers Hostel. It is great that the community was able to step in when its future has become uncertain.  Hostels remain an important product in the Scottish accommodation sector, allowing budget travellers and outdoor enthusiasts to access the amazing landscape that is Scotland.”

The 200 year old Tomintoul building has a strong history and the Development Trust were keen to develop a brand that captured the rich heritage of the area. The Smugglers unique brand builds on the iconic image of the whisky smugglers that the area is well known for.

The Smugglers Hostel is the highest hostel in the Highlands, attracting a large number of outdoor enthusiasts who visit the area due to its great location on the northern boundary of the Cairngorm National Park.  Although somewhat isolated Tomintoul is a fantastic base for walking and cycling throughout the year and the Trust is focussed on developing the facilities to further cater for this growing market.

The Development Trust has a number of significant upgrades planned for the next six months, including the installation of a wood pellet biomass system to generate a further income stream and make the business more sustainable and customer friendly on a year round basis.  Visitors are also set to benefit from extended opening periods from May to October this year. There are also ambitious plans to open on a year-round basis in the future.

The 20 bed family friendly hostel is open from April to November and has both ensuite and dorm rooms available to cater for a variety of visitors. Group bookings can be accommodated throughout the year, with tailor made packages available including activities and catering.

TGDT is a community development trust supported by hundreds of local people.  The hostel is the first in a number of planned projects being made through community partnership working, aimed at developing the local economy for members of the community and visitors to the area.  The Cairngorms National Park Authority (CNPA), Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Moray Council and the Crown Estate all provide support to the Trust including funding for their Development Officer.

CNPA Board member Eleanor Mackintosh said: “I am delighted to see that The Tomintoul and Glenlivet Development Trust has been able to work with the Scottish Youth Hostel Association to take over this amazing community asset. The Smugglers will provide accommodation for visitors wanting to explore this area of the Cairngorms National Park - which has so much to offer. The Development Trust has done extremely well in such a relatively short time to be already delivering on the regeneration strategy which so many people in the local community helped to shape.”

For more information on the hostel see or by contact the hostel direct on 01807 580364.

  • TGDT was created in 2012 to drive forwards the local regeneration of the AB37 9 postcode area.
  • The TGDT is supported by Cairngorms National Park Authority, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Moray Council and the Crown Estate.
  • The Tomintoul Hostel is a trading subsidiary of TGDT, which is a not for profit organisation that will be reinvesting any surplus income generated back into local regeneration projects.
  • SYHA currently has a network of around 70 Youth Hostels, including more than 30 independently-run Affiliate Hostels, of which Tomintoul will now be one.
  • The Hostel is located within the village of Tomintoul, which sits within the Glenlivet Estate, covering over 23,000 ha (58,000 ac) in total.  Within Glenlivet, The Crown Estate has encouraged sustainable economic and community development, backed up by significant re-investment, a policy that has won the Estate several major awards.  It is the policy of The Crown Estate to encourage new enterprises and activities, which are in keeping with the area’s traditional land uses.
  • The Cairngorms National Park is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year.  It is the UK’s largest national park at 4,528sq km and has four aims: to conserve and enhance the area’s natural and cultural heritage; promote sustainable use of the Park’s natural resources; promoting understanding and enjoyment of the special qualities of the Park; and to promote sustainable economic and social development of local communities

Leave a comment

Back to top