How is accommodation on the Camino de Santiago?
The Camino de Santiago is becoming more and more popular. As such, we can find many different kinds of accommodations on the way, other than the typical “Albergues”.
This is a frequently asked question: what kind of accommodation will I have on the Camino de Santiago? The answer can vary depending on the route you choose. Some of the Jacobean walks are still a bit “isolated”, with only a couple of albergues on the main stops. But in other routes, like the French Way or the Portuguese Way, we can find many facilities along the way. Keep reading to discover all the different types of accommodation on the Camino de Santiago.
The Albergue is a typical hostel focused on pilgrims. As such, their philosophy is “sharing”. There we can find common spaces: shared rooms, bathrooms, kitchens, leisure rooms… It is the most typical kind of accommodation on the Camino, but not recommended if you have problems to fall asleep.
There are two kind of albergues on the Camino: public albergues and private albergues. Public albergues are run by the public administration, and they usually operate on first come, first served basis. It is the cheapest kind of accommodation on the Camino, as they usually request a small donation or fee to use the facilities. The problem is availability: most of them are closed during low season, and it is very difficult to get a bed on the busiest months. In July or August for example, it is common to see pilgrims rushing, even running, at the end of each stage to make it there on time.
There are also private albergues, for a very low price. The idea is pretty much the same: shared facilities. The main difference is that private albergues can be booked in advance. They also accept the luggage transfer service, and some of them can even organize breakfast and dinner for their clients.
It is very important to notice the difference between the Spanish concept for “hostel” and “hostal”. While “hostel” has the same connotations as in English (shared rooms and bathrooms), “hostal” or “pensión” mean “guesthouse”. Both of them (pensión and hostal), refer to the same kind of accommodation: private rooms and private bathrooms.
If you are looking to walk the Camino de Santiago, but prefer to have your own space, this is the most typical kind of accommodation. The pensiones or hostales are usually small family run business, basic, focused on pilgrims, but clean and comfortable. The perfect choice to have a good sleep before the next walking day.
If they do not have a restaurant inside, breakfast and dinner will be served at a restaurant close by. This is very common on the Camino de Santiago.
Hotels on the Camino
The main difference between a “hotel” and a “hostal” or “pensión”, is that hotels must have one whole building for their activity. On the other hand, hostales and pensiones, can only allocate part of the building (one floor for example). Other than that, the idea is pretty similar: private rooms and private bathrooms.
It does not mean that hotels have a better standard than a pensión, in terms of better rooms. The official denomination is given based on other factors, like their facilities: having a exclusive entrance door, lift, stairs, the number of rooms, the size of the corridors… All these aspects are standardized, and are regularly evaluated by tourism inspectors.
Country Cottages on the Camino
The country cottages, known as “casas rurales” in Spanish, are traditional rural houses, restored for guests. In Galicia region, these country houses are always stone made constructions, with an interesting origin and history. These kind of accommodation is usually small (no more than 10 rooms), but always private with bathroom. Breakfast and dinner are usually home made, which makes it a very attractive option. It is way to enjoy the countryside on a cozy house.
Country cottages might not be on right on the Camino de Santiago. As such, there is a transfer service that works very well. Once we finish our walking day, we call them, and a pick up service will be organized. They will bring you back to the same place the day after, to resume your walk.
The country cottage option is available on the Lux package of our tours on the French Way, the Portuguese Way, and the Portuguese Coastal Way.
The Paradores de Turismo is a Spanish public hotel chain. Their accommodations are located in historical buildings, or interesting places because of its culture, art or traditions. Their philosophy is maintaining and promoting this unique cultural and historical heritage. Also, to make it sustainable in terms of tourism.
There are really nice Paradores in some of the stops of the Camino de Santiago. Tui and Pontevedra on the Portuguese Way, Baiona on the Portuguese Coastal Way, Monforte de Lemos on the Winter Way, Vilalba on the Northern Way… But the most popular one is, by far the Hostal Parador de los Reyes Católicos, in Santiago de Compostela.
This 5* Parador is located in the Obradoiro Square, beside the Cathedral. It used to be a hospital for pilgrims but, since 1954, it is a magnificent hotel. The perfect way to celebrate the arrival in Santiago de Compostela!
Please note that we organize different kind of tours on the Camino de Santiago, with different accommodations. Except for the public albergues (that cannot be booked in advance) we can organize any kind of experience on the Camino de Santiago. From basic guesthouses, to country cottages or Paradores.. If you are thinking about enjoying this vital experience, please do not hesitate to contact us. We will send you a tailor-made itinerary, taking into account the type of accommodation you are looking for.