A family who rescued an iconic Lake District hostel are celebrating five years in business.

Christine and Alan Thomas and their son Adrian were looking for a potential holiday home in the Lakes when the YHA decided to sell Elterwater Hostel in Ambleside.

The family stepped in just hours before the bidding deadline.

Now, five years and 30,000 bed nights later, they have turned around a run down hostel into a bright, comfortable and popular refuge for families, solo travellers and groups.

“Back then, we had no idea what we were letting ourselves into when, from far away in Hong Kong, Christine spotted that the YHA had put Elterwater up for sale,” said Alan a retired banker.

“We’d often thought about, and even looked at, buying something in the Lakes – perhaps a holiday cottage we could rent, and use. Adrian distinctly remembers “wasting” days of family holidays looking at cottages we couldn’t possibly afford.

"But we had always loved Elterwater; we had both stayed at the hostel in our school days, and Adrian took his first steps in Elterwater in the early 90s.”

The family have invested financially, but also given a great deal of time and affection in renovating the hostel.

“Our investment in the business has grown as we continue to push profits back into making the hostel as good as it can be,” said Christine, who works in finance.

“We’ve completely refurbished washrooms and showers, added a new en suite facility downstairs, plus new soft furnishings, carpets, mattresses and duvets as well as wi-fi throughout the hostel and individual bed-lights, as well as fixing the roof.”

What stayed the same is the staff team, Nick Owen, the manager, who had already worked at the hostel for more than 20 years, and Charlie Spiller, who served the family’s breakfast on their first, incognito visit when the hostel was up for sale.

Five years on and the business is well established with a wide cross section of people using the hostel for all sorts of reasons.

“We retained a number of regular group bookings and attracted plenty of new ones,” said Christine.

Nick and Charlie are still here, and we have welcomed several seasonal workers including Andy who has just committed to his third season with us next year.

“We are indebted to Nick and Charlie, and all our staff throughout these five years, for embracing all the changes and for continuing to provide excellent front of house customer service.

“We are still excited by our new challenge, five years down the line, and look forward to meeting many more new friends in the new season.”