The Camino Frances

The Camino Frances

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Sleeping arrangements, the alternatives

Day 22, Villavante to Astorga, 21 km

Today was another easy day, and we were checked into the municipal here in Astorga by noon. We did our chores, then went out to soak up the sunshine, and meet up with people we hadn´t seen in a while. We had the best meal yet on the Camino- cauliflower soup with a poached egg in it, and turkey with grilled vegetables, and for dessert, a baked apple!

I thought my blog on albergues might frighten some of you off, so I asked Pat Concessi to do a guest blog on her Camino, and sleeping arrangements. Here it is.

Darlene asked me to write a guest blog about the alternative accomodation, for pilgrims who might be scared off by stories of the albergues. This is based on my experience walking the Camino from St Jean to Finnesterre with my husband Wayne.

We started our Camino from St Jean Pied de Port on April 14, 2013. The first night we stayed in the albergue in Roncesvalles, and it was lovely. The second night we stayed in the municipal albergue in Larrasoana, and it was not so good, with 27 people in the room. The constant snoring let us know we would be happier in our own room, so we continued our Camino staying in Casa Rurals and hotels.

Casa Rurals are the equivalent of bed and breakfasts in North America. They have 3-7 rooms, and the owner/manager lives on the site. We stayed in some very charming rooms. Old buildings with stone walls inside and out provided some excellent soundproofing! We always had our own bathrooms, including a shower. All the bedding is provided, so you could walk without a sleeping bag, but I wouldn´t. Breakfast was normally provided, and was usually tostada with jam and cafe con leche, and sometimes tortilla was offered. Plenty to get our day started! Casa Rurals cost between €35 and € 55, and are priced per room, whereas albergues are priced per bed. So with two of us in the room, the price was reasonable.

The Spanish have a star rating system for their hotels, but we didn´t find much relationship between the number of stars and the quality and cleanliness of the rooms. I think maybe the stars relate to other aspects of the hotel like elevators and conference facilities. Not features that pilgrims care about! Hotel prices range from €45 to over €100 with the main factor being the size of the city. Hotels are more expensive in Santiago, so plan carefully. If your finances permit, you should stay in a Parador at least once. These are historic buildings converted to hotels, and managed by the Spanish government. We also stayed in a couple of lovely converted monasteries.

Neither Wayne nor I speak any Spanish (beyond ordering cafe con leche or bocadillos). Our approach was to talk to the owner/manager in the afternoon, and use our guidebook to show them the town we were walking to the next day, and ask for a recommendation. (Manana, habitation and pasado manana were helpful words). We always took their recommendations. Then we would ask them to call and make a reservation, which they were very willing to do. It is important to specify the time you will arrive, so that they don´t give your room away, thinking that you are not coming (rather than just a late starter and a slow walker). Being able to reserve ahead made a big difference to our Camino.We were able to walk at our own pace and enjoy the day.

How to explain your choice to other pilgrims:
  1. We are supporting the economy of Northern Spain
  2. We both snore, so we stay out of the albergues for your benefit!
  3. Everyone walks their own Camino, and yours is no less valid for staying in a private room.

Enjoy your Camino
Pat Concessi

Thanks Pat for this great information. She included pictures, but this computer won´t let me copy - I had to retype her info, so hope I got it correct.


  1. Guest bloggers, what next? Trivia fact the star system is related to the square footage of the room you are staying in.

    Now I will hold my breath for the posting from Rabanal. It is bound to be a keeper. The infestation is under control, the tea bags have been wrested from the pincers of the cinchas. All is good.

  2. Thanks for the very clear explanation. I wondered about the different alternatives as I have been known to talk in my sleep!

    1. The snorers don´t bother me, and Wendy wears earplugs.

  3. Thanks for Pat's information. I am a light sleeper and the thought of all that snoring makes me sleepless in Toronto. Great advice. Maybe I'll wear sack cloth to make up for my sleeping comfort.

    1. Remember, you walk your own Camino. Try them both!