A CHARITY-RUN hostel which has provided low-cost overnight accommodation for thousands of walkers, cyclists and other visitors to the North Cotswolds for almost 80 years is to close.

Stow-on-the-Wold youth hostel, a 48-bed Grade II listed 17th century townhouse in The Square, opened in 1935 and will go on the market shortly.

Sam Littlechilds, spokesman for the Youth Hostel Association (YHA) said over the last few years the Stow hostel had been making a small loss and it would cost around half a million pounds “to bring it up the standards that our customers and guests expect.”

It is currently averaging 49 per cent occupancy.

Mr Littlechilds said over the last three years the YHA, which has 138 hostels in England and Wales, had invested around £17 million on its properties over the last three years and had significant plans to continue to do so.

“TheYHA constantly reviews the quality and the locations of its accommodation to ensure that our members and guests are getting the best experience when they stay with us.

“The YHA has always opened new sites - and closed them - adapting and investing in our network.

“Decisions like hostel closures are never taken lightly and the staff at the affected sites are our first priority. Unfortunately these are sites where the location and the scale of investment needed means we can no longer afford to retain them with YHA ownership.

“We hope that some of the sites will become part of the YHA network again under our Enterprise scheme. We are working closely with staff as part of a full consultation period,” added Mr Littlechilds.

The Stow building will be put for sale shortly but it is guaranteed to remain open until the end of September. A manager and five seasonal staff are employed there.

The nearest YHA hostels to Stow are at Stratford-upon-Avon and Oxford.