All you have to know about accommodation on the Camino de Santiago.

What kind of accommodation is there on the Camino de Santiago?

In important stage locations, where most pilgrims usually stop, you will find all types of accommodation: guesthouses, hotels, pilgrim hostels and nowadays also AirBnBs. Sometimes you also come across Casa Rurales, which are B&Bs sometimes located on farms. In cities there are a plenty of places to stay for every budget. In smaller towns and villages they’re mostly only pilgrim hostels, that are very similar to youth hostels. But some of the private hostels not only offer dormitories but also single and double rooms.

Do pilgrims have to sleep in a pilgrim hostel?

No. The hostels were set up to provide cheap accommodation for pilgrims. There is no set rule that a pilgrim has to sleep in a hostel, which are called «albergue» in Spanish. Some pilgrims like to think you’re not a “true pilgrim” unless you sleep in barebones hostels. Utter nonsense!

It’s totally OK to sleep in guesthouses all the way, or treat yourself to the luxury of a single room every now and then!

The one benefit of hostels over hotels is that hostels offer the opportunity to easily connect with other pilgrims from all over the world. In my opinion, this is an important part of the Camino de Santiago.

What facilities do the hostels have?

Hostels range from very modest to luxurious. Accommodation provided by pilgrim communities or church organizations usually offers no more than (large) communal dormitories and basic facilities. Don’t count on washing machines here – at most you’ll have buckets to  hand wash your clothes in cold water. Private hostels offer smaller rooms, better beds, washing machines, and sometimes even a pool. Often private hostels also offer double rooms. Private hostels are, of course, more expensive and cost between 12 € and even 17 € for a dormitory bed. Private rooms start around 25 to 30 €.

Are there gender separated dormitories?

For the most part, no. The dorms are mixed. Occasionally bunk beds are pushed together to form a double bed in order to accommodate more people. And then you end up essentially sharing a bed with a stranger!
There is hardly any privacy in pilgrim hostels – but you get used to it after a while. Bring earplugs, it can get loud at night because there is always on snorer in the room. At least!

Can I reserve the hostels?

Yes and no. Before the pandemic, it was hardly possible to reserve hostels. During the pandemic, when the number of beds was reduced, you could reserve your place in advance. Now hostels are going back to a first come, first serve basis. Especially for  public and church hostels. In private hostels you can still pre-order your bed, sometimes via

Should I book my bed in advance?

No! There are enough places to sleep on the Camino! Don’t believe the rumors that say, that you have tu run over the camino to find a bed. You may have to ask around in a few hostels in one town or, worst case, walk to the next village, but there will always be a place to sleep.
One of the special charms of the Camino is the feeling of absolute freedom. You decide spontaneously how far to walk each day, see how you feel hour by hour, and trust that the Way will provide. (And it always does!) Booking your bed ahead of time like you would on a normal holiday can restrict this sense of freedom and contradict the spirit of the path.

How much should I give to charity run (donativo) hostels?

The hostels that work on a donation basis and keep up the original spirit of hospitality still exist – amazing! Often these hostels belong to Christian organizations that provide charity in everyday life. Dinner and breakfast are usually offered as well.

A bed, dinner and breakfast cost around 25 euros in a regular hostel, including a visit to the restaurant. The food in the donation-based hostel is perhaps a bit more modest, but a donation of 15 to 20 euros is still appropriate. If you only get a bed, you should pay 8 to 10 euros.

Of course, if you are very tight on cash, you can also give less.

But donation-run hostels are not there to save money! The organizations and volunteers who run these hostels do it out of respect and love for the pilgrims. Don’t take advantage of their goodwill by chintzing out on an appropriate donation. 

Here I write about my most beloved hostels on the Camino Frances.

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