Situated a five minute walk out of Penzance, YMCA Cornwall is half community centre, half residential home with a thirteen room backpacker wing. On check-in you are given a photocopied ordinance map of the area and a set of rules.
This is not a party hostel but a good place to sleep if a serious hiker or want to keep to yourself. If you want to party in Cornwall you are better off staying in St Ives or Newquay with the surfers.
I booked a 4-bed female dorm and got a 6-bed (2x 3 bed bunks) all to myself due to my visit being midweek in the low-season. The bed had a very comfortable mattress with decent pillows and warm duvet.
There are no lockers besides a plastic box under the beds which have no way of locking the contents, therefore the security could be improved with proper lockers. There is plenty of space to add them.
There were different areas of the property making it more a community centre with a dance hall, gym, basketball court and residential space for elderly and women-in-need. On Thursday and Friday nights it was impossible to go to bed early due to the kids screeching as they played basketball. A Youth Club is also held on Friday nights and is well attended as they take over the backpacker common room.
The receptionist made a big deal about the shower being operated by pressing button for hot water for 10 minutes. I only got lukewarm water unfortunately.
Breakfast is included and is self serve between 8:00 -9:00 consisting of cereal, toast, coffee or tea. The backpacker’s area has a locked small kitchen equipped with a fridge, kettle and microwave.
There is a laundry and free Wi-Fi available. The common room has a TV, pool table and kicker table.
Reception hours are 8:00 am -9:30 pm, otherwise there is a night security guard.
Connections out of Penzance are better in summer when bus number 300 is running. It takes you to Lands’ End, the village of Mousehole and the famous Minack Theatre. It is still possible to visit these places on the local bus outside of summer but they do not run as often.