As you walk your Camino de Santiago, you can stay in wide range of accommodation. There is a great variety of places to choose. Most of pilgrims prefer the traditional pilgrim hostels, which are along the Camino and which are quite basic and modest. In these hostels, also called “albergues” or “refugios”, accommodation is in dormitories of four to one hundred beds with communal rooms. They are really inexpensive. Pilgrims usually take their own sleeping bags.
Pilgrims can stay in an albergue for just one night. There is only a limited number of beds available so the earlier you arrive, the higher the chance to find a place to sleep. Obviously, only pilgrims who are doing the Camino ( on foot, by bike or on horseback) can stay in the albergues. In this way, in the Pilgrim´s Passport (which you need to have with you in order to be accepted) you will find the following:
“Organised groups with a support vehicle or on bicycles are asked to find alternative accommodation from the pilgrim albergues.
Albergues provide simple accommodation. They do not receive grants for their upkeep and need to be sustained, cleaned and maintained. This is achieved through the contributions of pilgrims”.
Booking the hostels in advance is not possible, the places will be allocated according to the time of arrival with the following preferences: pilgrims in wheelchairs take preference over those who hike, then pilgrims who come on horseback and finally those on bicycles.
There are two kinds of pilgrim’s hostels:
Public hostels: In every town there is only one public hostel which will accept only pilgrims who travel alone or in small groups, and without further support such as luggage transport. The classic Camino albergues are public, run by ‘hospitaleros’ (Camino volunteers).
Private hostels: These are privately-run hostels or they are run by religious organizations. They have a similar set up: beds in dorms, at low prices.
Alternatively, there is also a wider range of accommodation along the Camino de Santiago, particularly along the most popular route, the Camino Frances: hotels, private apartments, privately-run hostels, boutique hotels… These are not so cheap but you can have more privacy and you can book them in advance, which is a relief when you walk your camino in crowded seasons and you have to hurry up to be the first in arriving at the albergue to get a bed.
Bear in mind that towns and cities will have a better choice and range of accommodation options; while accommodation in smaller villages and hamlets can be limited. The Camino is a long-distance trail so the mix of accommodation styles will also be part of your journey.
Buen Camino, amigos!
Photo 1 http://alberguesanmiguel.com
Photo 3 https://vivecamino.com
Photo 4 http://www.spain.info/es