Whilst wandering around Holland Park in 1974, noticing the abundance of backpackers sitting in doorways with nowhere to stay, Alan Rivers, and partner at the time Simon Lofts had the idea of starting the first independent Youth Hostel, and the rest as they say is history!
‘With the UK in recession, and little prospect in the property market, we decided to open a youth hostel,’ says Alan Rivers, Chairman and Founder. ‘We didn’t have a clue what we were doing back then, but that was all part of the fun!’ By the end of 1976 Astor Hostels had 4 sites operational with just under 1,000 beds.
Through four decades Astor Hostels has grown from strength to strength, having occupied more than 30 sites in West and Central London, and a summer project in Portugal, where Alan and the team took over a school to create a 600-bed hostel for four years.
Now, Alex Rivers, son of the chairman has taken over and the baton of history has been passed on to the next generation. ‘Having grown up around Astor staff for as long as I can remember, I have become accustomed to the roaring parties and eccentric characters.’ Alex hopes to continue to grow the company, and the list of people who have stayed, worked and lived at Astor Hostels.
Having been given so much from his company, in 1999 Alan decided it was time to give back to the community, and set-up the Rivers Foundation. The charity’s main goal is to improve the social, health and educational well being of children and young adults around the world. The most vulnerable in today’s society, the Rivers Foundation has helped disadvantaged children both here in the UK and internationally, including Kenya, Vietnam, Thailand, Brazil and Colombia.