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YOUTH BEAT

London Hostel Reservation System Now in Place

November 12, 1989|LUCY IZON | Izon is a Canadian travel journalist covering youth budget routes.

It's now easier for young travelers to arrange budget accommodations when they arrive in London.

Concordia Hotel Reservation Service at Victoria Station is making on-the-spot reservations at London youth hostels.

The fee is 2 (about $3.30 U.S.), which is less than the charge for making reservations through the tourist information office.

Victoria Station can be reached by train or subway. The Concordia office is near Platform 8. If you arrive by train, it's on the same side of the station, near the buses.

When you make a reservation through this service you are not obligated to go to the hostel right away to claim your spot. You are assigned a cut-off time, and if you don't arrive by that time, the bed will be given to someone else.

Next March the rates for dormitory accommodations in London hostels will rise from 7 to 9 a night. Rates slightly lower for guests under 21. The increase is intended to help raise funds for much-needed development of hostel facilities in the London area.

London hostels also are selling vouchers for inexpensive transportation to the international airports. The tickets, which sell for 3.80, are valid for National Express bus service from Victoria Station to Heathrow or Gatwick airports.

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On March 1 one of the most interesting youth hostels in Wales will reopen for the spring season. St. Briavel's Castle in Lydney offers young travelers budget accommodations complete with dungeon and, some believe, a ghost.

St. Briavel's is a Norman castle that was used by King John as a hunting lodge. The dormitories are in what were once the prison, chapel, hanging room and banquet hall, respectively.

In one of the dormitories is a trapdoor to the Oubliette, a 30-foot-deep chamber that people were thrown into and literally forgotten about. The chamber has no windows and no way out.

The prison on the first floor was for rich men or debtors. You can still find graffiti on the walls dating to 1647.

Some also claim that the castle has a ghost--a crying baby.

The rate for accommodations is 4.90 between September and June and 5.20 in July and August.

The castle is in the center of the village of Lydney on the edge of the Forest of Dean. This is near Offa's Dyke, a 180-mile ditch dug during the 8th Century as a boundary between Wales and England.

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