Accommodation Camino de Santiago

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What accommodation options will you find on the Camino?

The first thing you need to think about is what kind of accommodations you need. Are you going to do the Camino and want to experience a bush hiking style adventure? At Galiwonders we offer Superior and Standard Tours so you can choose the type of accommodation that best suits your needs, preferences and budget.

In the cities it is possible to stay in 2 to 4 star hotels, hostels or guesthouses. While in small towns the accommodation available will be small family hotels, guesthouses, rural houses, inns or pazos.
All our tours include private rooms and bathrooms to ensure that you enjoy maximum comfort during your stay.

How are the accommodations of the superior tours?

Superior hotels

Typical in the big cities along the Camino. They can be family-run hotels or international hotel chains. They are perhaps the most expensive alternative, although you can find different price levels according to the category and services they offer.

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Boutique hotels

These are small accommodations that are characterized by having few rooms and providing personalized attention. They are hotel concepts with a modern style and their own character.

National Parador Hotels of Spain

This is a public hotel chain that manages a network of almost 100 charming hotels distributed throughout the Iberian Peninsula. The establishments are located in buildings of cultural interest and great historical value, and stand out for their scenic, artistic or natural interest (including ancient palaces, monasteries, fortresses, convents, fortresses…).

Rural tourism accommodations

Rural houses, pazos, inns, rectories, castles, monasteries, farmhouses… These are historic buildings of great architectural and patrimonial value. So much so, that this characteristic sometimes gives them the status of “luxury lodging” despite the fact that they are
“luxury accommodation” despite the fact that they are often rustic constructions in which natural stone and wood predominate.

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How are the accommodations of the Standard Tours?

1* and 2* hotels

These hotels offer private rooms with private bathrooms as well as other additional services that may vary depending on the type of category: restaurant service, television, room service, dry cleaning, ironing, etc. It is common to stay in this type of hotels in the cities along the Camino.

Hostels and pensions

These lodgings have the necessary services to cover the basic needs of cleanliness and rest at a more moderate price than hotels … . Officially, hostels and pensions are 1-star accommodations. However, this rating should not be taken into account when assessing the level of comfort and quality of their services.

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Rural tourism accommodations

Rural houses, pazos, inns, rectories, castles, monasteries, farmhouses… These are historic buildings of great architectural and patrimonial value. So much so, that this characteristic sometimes gives them the status of “luxury accommodation” despite the fact that they are often rustic constructions in which natural stone and wood predominate.

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What you should know about the hotels on the Camino de Santiago?

In order to talk about the quality of the hotels on the Camino de Santiago, we must begin with a brief review of the sector. We will not only talk about hotels, but about all types of accommodation.

In the Spanish tourism sector, the regulations indicate a specific classification for tourist accommodations. Thus, we can find from pensions to hotels, hostels, tourist apartments, rural tourism houses, tourist camps and even tourist homes, in recent years.

On the one hand, hotels and pensions on the Camino de Santiago have the same distinction, the stars. As we have already seen, hotels can have from 1 to 5 stars, and there are even some with the category of 1 to 5 stars and the denomination “superior”.

Pensions are categorized from 1 to 3 stars. Apartments, on the other hand, are classified by keys, from 1 to 3, while tourist camps and hostels may be of 1st or 2nd category.

On the other hand, rural tourism establishments have a completely different denomination. These are governed by the type of lodging and its set up. Thus we can find village houses, farmhouses, pazos, rural tourism villages, rectory houses… Each one of them would be within the same group, A, B, C or D, depending on their own characteristics.

Confusing luxury with stars on the Camino

When we receive questions about hotels on the Camino de Santiago, sometimes reference is made to the number of stars. Many people, when traveling, assume a misconception of the quality of services and facilities based on the number of stars they have.

Nowadays it is complicated to establish this standard, since there are 3-star hotels that have become obsolete and their quality may have diminished with respect to the quality of the services and facilities existing in other 1-star hotels.

In this sense, some accommodation review sites give a better idea of what we are going to find than the number of stars, which is only a normative standard.

In fact, when we read the regulations, we can see that by definition the main difference between the stars of a hotel or a guesthouse, for example, lies in the services offered, the equipment of the rooms, the complementary services or the service staff, among others.

Although it is true that there are certain differences between hotels and guesthouses, they are not really strict in the qualitative sense. Rather, we could say that, by definition, the major difference between the two has a “structural” sense.

Thus, while a hotel must occupy the entirety of one or several buildings or an independent part of them, but with an exclusive entrance, stairs and elevators, a guesthouse does not have to have one.

In any case, I’m sure you are familiar with hostels, which are nothing more than 2 and 3 star pensions that occupy, like hotels, a complete building or an independent part of it, with exclusive use of the entrance, stairs and elevators, just like hotels.

Are “quality” and stars the same in the hotels on the Camino de Santiago?

Leaving all these concepts behind, let’s focus on the most important thing: quality is not inherent to the number of stars. At least, as we understand it.

The vast majority of guests, when they go to a superior hotel, I mean 3, 4 or 5 stars, expect the rooms to be impeccable, that everything works perfectly, that the mattresses are super comfortable or that we have a simple bench to rest our suitcase, some hangers and a closet to hang our clothes, a wifi signal that does not give problems, a buffet breakfast where nothing is missing … and so we could continue in an extensive list of things that people expect when we pay for a service.

But many times we find that this is not the case. Sometimes we create high expectations for what we think they should have and when we arrive we realize that what we understand by quality, remains at a level that we would expect from 1 star.

It also happens that other times we go to a guesthouse or a 1 star hotel and we are surprised by the quality of the services, by the modern facilities, by the most basic details that perhaps we did not expect to find.

The regulations, for example, give freedom to the owner to choose which category he wants to enter. As logically there are standards to be met, once he has decided, he asks for a check of the requirements. Normally, what he does is to fill out a basic questionnaire that determines whether or not he complies with this category.

Hotels on the Camino de Santiago: Basic elements that must always be met

Despite all the complexity present around our expectations and perceptions, which will determine our final level of satisfaction, there are basic characteristics that every tourist establishment should comply with at a legal level.

We are talking, for example, about the daily cleaning and hygiene in the room, the operation of all equipment and the good state of conservation, basic amenities (soap, shampoo and bath gel), hot and cold water at any time, impeccable bed linen, television, internet access in common areas, 24-hour customer service, accessible telephone for the client, or a first aid kit, among others.

Although there are more basic services that can be found in the standard, as we go up in category, we can find more services. For example, in 3 to 5 star hotels it is essential that the reception staff is fluent in a foreign language, in addition to the local languages. And in 4- and 5-star hotels this requirement extends to the dining area, being essential for dining room staff.

We can also find an important difference in the size of the rooms. Specifically, in one-star hotels, double rooms and bathrooms may be smaller than in higher category hotels.

Although all these requirements are mandatory depending on each category, we find accommodations that have preferred to remain in a lower category, despite offering mandatory services for a higher category.

It may also happen that at the time of opening an establishment complies with the canons of its category and after some time, due to carelessness, neglect, lack of attention from supervisors or the absence of them, there is a decline in the minimum quality required to accommodate guests.

Compliance with the standards of accommodations on the Pilgrims’ Route to Santiago de Compostela

It is essential for the tourism sector to ensure compliance with these standards. Many companies, in addition to complying with all the requirements of their category, are involved in continuous improvement plans, in quality regulations that provide differentiation and control in terms of compliance with these standards.

Examples include the Q for Tourism Quality, the European EFQM model, ISO 9001 or the ISO 9004 environmental standard.

Not all accommodations have the capacity to get involved in these projects. We must bear in mind that many of the tourist establishments in our Community are small companies that are open only during certain months of the year, which sometimes makes it difficult for them to be immersed in continuous improvement processes.

Anyway, we have the idea that establishments with 3 or more stars are always superior and their quality is above all, but we are wrong. Even sometimes, labor regulations are not complied with, the staff does not have the breaks established by law, nor vacations, or their contracts are seasonal and, therefore, they do not have the same implication in a common project of quality and commitment to improvement.

As clients, we must be aware that a tourist accommodation is made up of human personnel. Sometimes more professional and sometimes less. More or less motivated. More empathetic or not so empathetic. But all this has nothing to do with the category of the accommodation, but rather with the particular predisposition of each person to provide a good service.

Is the quality of accommodation on the Camino reliable?

With all this, if there is one thing we should be aware of as clients, it is that the category itself is not important. It may be a good indication of the basic services we can find, but the subjective part of what we expect cannot be measured in this way.

From time to time it is worth trying a lower category lodging that pampers and takes care of its clients, that has a close relationship with them, that takes care of a differentiated product in which quality prevails over quantity. How many times have we found a breakfast buffet without variety, with dry, stale, industrial and expensive food?

The objective is to look at what others who have experienced it before us have to say. See the positive and negative points, weigh up those that seem fundamental to us. For example, would we like to find a mildewed shower curtain, a badly washed cutlery, a toilet without toilet paper, unfriendly staff, a musty smell in the room, etc.?

At Galiwonders we are very concerned that the accommodations we work with meet standards that satisfy the needs of pilgrims. That is why we also recommend that you give us back those impressions that allow us to know what points need to be improved, where to check. In short, we are looking for feedback that shows us what is good and what is wrong with each place.

It is the most efficient way to know if the accommodations are doing their part or, on the contrary, are failing in some point. In addition, many times, the owners of the accommodations do not get to know where they are failing or what they should reinforce.

Public opinions of Camino de Santiago hotels on the Internet

Although the emergence of several pages of opinions about tourist products or services has given us the opportunity to intuit how our experience in the place could be, we can find extremes of the type, either very good or very bad. But it is an option to get an idea of the opinion generated by certain hotels on the Camino de Santiago.

People give their opinion when something has been terrible, we get angry without looking beyond, without commenting anything with the company, neither at the moment nor afterwards. In most of the occasions, communication is the key to solve any inconvenience that may arise.

Whether to applaud a service or to make amends for a mistake, we always recommend communicating your impressions directly. Everything has a solution in this area. Whatever the category. What is not advisable is to believe that, because it has more stars, it will be inexorably better.

Nowadays the standards and public opinions of clients reflect in a more reliable way the basic criteria that are important for our well-being.

Conclusion: the stars do not determine our experience on the Camino de Santiago

In short, we should not confuse quantity of stars with quality of experience. Many people have the mistaken idea that the more stars, the better the service. That is why we recommend that you read the opinions of other people regarding their own personal experience in the hotels on the Camino.

It is not difficult to see negative opinions in 3 or 4 star hotels and to see excellent comments in 1 star hotels or pensions that do not even have to meet high service standards.

Aspects to take into account about accommodation on the Camino de Santiago

As we have already mentioned, there are 3 fundamental aspects regarding the categories of accommodation on the Camino:

The decision of the entrepreneur to choose one or the other.
Effective compliance with the standards of the category to which the entrepreneur wants to aspire.
And the monitoring of compliance during the time spent in that category.

But there are also three more important ones. What we expect, what we desire and what we perceive.

What is best for us? This is the subjective part, which determines whether that establishment is going to be suitable for what we think is important in our trip.

A good rest, breakfast and quality food, is primary to continue the Camino. In Galiwonders we are mainly concerned about these three aspects. We understand that there may not always be a wide variety of establishments that strictly meet the standards, especially in times of high demand. However, your communication helps us to ensure that the accommodations with which we collaborate provide a good service.

If you are looking for an agency to support you throughout the Camino, do not hesitate to contact us for information about our routes and services. And if you have any special request, if you want to stay in a specific place, we will adapt your route to your needs. Any doubt about the quality of the hotels on the Camino de Santiago? Do not hesitate to contact us in the form below!

Other types of accommodation on the Camino de Santiago

The hostels

Before you continue reading: We emphasize that we only organize the Camino de Santiago in Albergues when it is for private groups of more than 20 people and you request us to do so. Travel packages for individual travelers or small groups are organized in private rooms with private bathrooms.

Hostels are a good option if you want to meet more people who, like you, are doing the Camino. You can find them along all the stages of the Camino. In fact, in those places where there is no private accommodation, there is usually a public hostel.

The public hostels, as you probably already know, give priority to those people who are doing the Camino as pilgrims, with the official credential. In addition, they do not accept reservations and that is why you may not be able to sleep under a roof.

Private hostels do accept reservations and some of them have some private rooms with private bathrooms. So they are a good option if you want to enjoy the more social aspect of the Camino. Below you will find a list of accommodation on the Camino de Santiago that you can find on the route you decide to follow, including a hostel.

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