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Albergue help

2020 Camino Guides

Brianmcauley

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
April 2nd 2019, sj to santiago dc
Hi all

I am planning my first camino frances starting April 2nd saint jean' I have done fair bit of research but have a question about accommodation.
I know about the different types of albergues and for example an albergue listed on the village to village guide might be advertised as a private hostel on their website.

Question is how do we know what albergue is pilgrim only? I want to avoid drunk teenagers on a weekend away, not saying that all teenagers are drunk but have a small anxiety about getting stuck in a dorm with potentially shifty folk.... Is it even a problem in Spain?
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011 (2019)
I think you are boxing at shadows here. Yes there are people who over imbibe, and I think you will find there are thieves as well and you might be unlucky enough to have them cross your path.

But my experience on three different pilgrimages in Spain is that these people are unlikely to be teenagers on a weekend party. They will be your fellow pilgrims that have stayed a little too long in the local bar, and are a little disruptive when they return to the dormitory.

The few teenagers that I did meet at different times behaved, in my view, about the same as the more sober older pilgrims. Those teenagers who were walking the last 100 km were lively and chatty on the trail, but never badly behaved in any of the albergues that I stayed in.

I would suggest that your fears might be alleviated by taking care of your personal possessions in the albergues, and having a good set of earplugs to drown out the snoring.
 
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t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
DougFitz is spot on... Here is my opinion, for what it is worth.

The near universal rule is that you must produce a stamped and valid pilgrim credencial to be admitted to an albergue. The second rule is that you must have carried your backpack and arrived on foot (or bicycle).

So, someone pouring themselves out of a car and entering an albergue should never get a bed. At least that is they way it is SUPPOSED to work. Albergues are hostels intended for pilgrims, not tourists.

If you are staying in albergues, you will encounter a broad cross-section of humanity from all over the world. Everyone behaves differently, some better than others. Some folks will imbibe too much and behave boorishly. This is life...s*&t happens...

The only two ways I know of, to avoid this potential issue, if it is that important to you, are to:

1.Stay at private albergues, making advance reservations when you can. These are privately run. Many are in private homes, and are slightly more expensive than public, municipal or church run albergues. This does not eliminate the risk, it does reduce it...based on cost usually.

2. Stay in commercial lodging, hostals or hotels. This costs significantly more than the lowest, cheapest albergue. But, you do get what you pay for.

However, I can speak from experience when I tell you that noisy, drunk, inconsiderate behavior crosses all ethnic, nationality and age lines. Also, paying more merely mitigates the likelihood. It does not eliminate the exposure at all. That is why I always carry both earplugs (several sets) and an eyeshade.

This is the Camino, it is not always perfect. But it is always there to welcome you back.

Hope this helps.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
In my three times down the Frances, the only time I experienced party-goers using the municipal albergue for cheap accommodation was on a Friday night in Burgos. They were adults and had credentials that had been acquired that day.
 

Brianmcauley

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
April 2nd 2019, sj to santiago dc
Ah okay thanks, I could not see the difference between albergues and regular type hostels, so if its an albergue is generally for pilgrims? Some more strict than others I guess, thanks for your help and your opinion was valuable to me:)
 

Rhun Leeding

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Leon to Santiago - Sept/Oct 2015
Camino Ingles & Santiago to Finisterre & Muxia Sept/Oct 2016
If you are looking to avoid drunk people, it may be worth having a look at the schedule you have planned and avoid the fiesta days in each town. My first night of the Ingles was in the municipal next to a town square, and the bands were on until 3 or 4. It was a groggy first 30 minutes of the day, as I didn't sleep too much!

It was only the once...but to me the 5am rustlers with a full beam head torch is more of an annoyance! :)
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
Drunk teenagers? Never saw any. Loud pilgrims talking on their phones in the evening, alarms ringing, bags rustling, and headlamps sweeping across the dorm at 5am? Daily occurrence! Funny how one’s biases can be quickly reset while traveling.

I accepted it all as a challenge to my patience and “serenity now” mantra on the Camino.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
Teenagers generally aren't looking to party in small towns in the middle of nowhere, which describes about 90% of Camino towns. 😊
In general, you don't really have anything to worry about. Some guides do designate which albergues/hostels are for pilgrims only. But has been mentioned that doesn't mean that you won't encounter drunk and/or loud pilgrims.
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Ch. d'Arles: Oloron Ste Marie to Aragones; Frances (2016); V.d.l.P.; Sanabres (2017)
I stayed in a parochial albergue where a young woman shouted very loudly in the middle of the night, waking everyone in the albergue (except herself). The one thing that you can guarantee in an albergue dormitory is that you have very little (read "no") control over what anyone else does. In some cases, as with this young woman. who had just begun to talk in her sleep, you don't even have control over what you do. That is part of the joy of communal living. And as an extreme introvert who lives alone, I mean that seriously. Buen camino.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
The only parties that kept us awake were the Spanish celebrating their football team's victory in their own homes and cafes. Ole Ole Ole.
They seemed pretty happy and werent a threat to anyone.
Oh and in a half asleep uncoordinated effort to get to the bathroom during the night, I fell down the bunk ladder, knocked over a pack and sprawled myself on the floor.
That woke everyone up as well. Including me.
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
Ah okay thanks, I could not see the difference between albergues and regular type hostels, so if its an albergue is generally for pilgrims? Some more strict than others I guess, thanks for your help and your opinion was valuable to me:)
In Spain, a hostel (spelled with an 'e') is a high density, dormitory type (usually but not always) place for pilgrim to sleep. The common name in Spain is "albergue."

Albergues may be privately owned / family operated. OR, they can be run by the local municipality, church, or a civic organization.

The former type are private albergues and many can be found and reserved online. They cost more than more public albergues.

Generally, "public" albergues, the latter category, are NOT reservable online. There are always exceptions. They usually charge € 10 or less. Again, there are always exceptions.

A subset of public albergues includes 'donativo' albergues. These places accept donations for the services offered.

A hostal (spelled with an 'a') is usually a small, private, frequently family run, B & B or hotel. IN the reservation systems they typically score about one star.

Hope this helps.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
Ah okay thanks, I could not see the difference between albergues and regular type hostels, so if its an albergue is generally for pilgrims? Some more strict than others I guess, thanks for your help and your opinion was valuable to me:)
There are generally four types of albergues:
  1. Parochial albergues, run by churches, convents, monasteries and the like - that is, religious organizations. Many of these are "donativo" (pay by donation). They also often offer some sort of religious service in the evening. You do not have to beling to the religion, be religious or participate in the evening services to stay there. You generally need a credencial to prove you are a pilgrim. They often do not take reservations and may give preference to walkers over cyclists.
  2. Association albergues, run by various "Friends of the Camino" associations from different countries. This is the other type that most often has "donativo" albergues. Often staffed by volunteers from around the world. Some of these associations are religious in nature and some of these also offer evening services. Again, all pilgrims are welcome, but you generally need to demonstrate you are a pilgrim with a credencial. They often do not take reservations and may give preference to walkers over cyclists.
  3. Municipal albergues, run by the municipality or local government. These are generally less expensive than the private albergues and often (but not always) have somewhat less amenities. You generally need to demonstrate you are a pilgrim with a credencial. They often do not take reservations and may give preference to walkers over cyclists.
  4. Private albergues, run by private individuals. These come in all types. They may be little different than the backpacker hostels you see in cities around the world. They may be someone opening their home to pilgrims with hospitality. They may be attached to a hotel, providing dormitory spaces for pilgrims at lower cost than a hotel room. Some are exclusive to pilgrims; others are not. Most take reservations. On average, they tend to have more amenities and be more expensive than the other types of albergues.

Given a choice, I'll pick the albergue with a communal meal.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
Given a choice, I'll pick the albergue with a communal meal.
That's a good choice but truth be told to get the best chance of a restful night we usually chose the albergues that had the smallest bed to room ratio.

I agree with most of the above opinions about albergues hosting wild kids. I didn't run into this. A few times there were misbehaving adults but nothing as terrible as Peg's mood after being woken at 5 AM.
 

trecile

Camino Addict
Camino(s) past & future
Francés (2016 & 2017), Norte (2018), Francés-Salvador-Norte (2019), Portuguese (2019)
There are also private albergues that are donativo, like La Casa de las Sonrisas in Grañon.
And many people assume that private albergues are "nicer" than municipal albergues. Definitely not true. I have stayed in some pretty "rustic" private albergues, like La Hutte in Atapuerca, and some fabulous municipal ones. Thinking in particular of the Xunta albergue in Dumbria.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Sarria to Santiago 2014
Pamplona to Santiago 2017
Norte. 2018
DougFitz is spot on... Here is my opinion, for what it is worth.

The near universal rule is that you must produce a stamped and valid pilgrim credencial to be admitted to an albergue. The second rule is that you must have carried your backpack and arrived on foot (or bicycle).

So, someone pouring themselves out of a car and entering an albergue should never get a bed. At least that is they way it is SUPPOSED to work. Albergues are hostels intended for pilgrims, not tourists.

If you are staying in albergues, you will encounter a broad cross-section of humanity from all over the world. Everyone behaves differently, some better than others. Some folks will imbibe too much and behave boorishly. This is life...s*&t happens...

The only two ways I know of, to avoid this potential issue, if it is that important to you, are to:

1.Stay at private albergues, making advance reservations when you can. These are privately run. Many are in private homes, and are slightly more expensive than public, municipal or church run albergues. This does not eliminate the risk, it does reduce it...based on cost usually.

2. Stay in commercial lodging, hostals or hotels. This costs significantly more than the lowest, cheapest albergue. But, you do get what you pay for.

However, I can speak from experience when I tell you that noisy, drunk, inconsiderate behavior crosses all ethnic, nationality and age lines. Also, paying more merely mitigates the likelihood. It does not eliminate the exposure at all. That is why I always carry both earplugs (several sets) and an eyeshade.

This is the Camino, it is not always perfect. But it is always there to welcome you back.

Hope this helps.
I’ve done 3 Caminos and never heard or saw the rule you had to carry your packback.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
There are also private albergues that are donativo, like La Casa de las Sonrisas in Grañon.
And many people assume that private albergues are "nicer" than municipal albergues. Definitely not true. I have stayed in some pretty "rustic" private albergues, like La Hutte in Atapuerca, and some fabulous municipal ones. Thinking in particular of the Xunta albergue in Dumbria.
Absolutely. Casa da Fernanda on the Camino Portugues is also a donativo private albergue and was fabulous to boot. But I will stand by my assertion that on average private albergues have more amenities. Dumbria may have had a fabulous Xunta albergue, but many have kitchens that are completely bare of cooking gear (like most pilgrims are carrying pots and pans) and the showers without curtains at the Xunta albergue in O Cebreiro seemed an unnecessary frugality to my teenage son.
 
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Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
The lack of a shower curtain was less of an issue then NO hot water in the showers when we arrived at the O Cebreiro albuergue in cold, driving rain! BRRRRRRRRRR!!! 😫
 

Rhun Leeding

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Leon to Santiago - Sept/Oct 2015
Camino Ingles & Santiago to Finisterre & Muxia Sept/Oct 2016
Absolutely. Casa da Fernanda on the Camino Portugues is also a donativo private albergue and was fabulous to boot. But I will stand by my assertion that on average private albergues have more amenities. Dumbris may have had a fabulous Xunta albergue, but many have kitchens that are completely bare of cooking gear (like most pilgrims are carrying pots and pans) and the showers without curtains at the Xunta albergue in O Cebreiro seemed an unnecessary frugality to my teenage son.
Not just your son David....I must admit I've not showered in quite such a place since I gave up rugby at 23. And i never liked showering after a rugby game neither!
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
I’ve done 3 Caminos and never heard or saw the rule you had to carry your packback.
Some albergues do not accept backpacks delivered by luggage services, which eliminates the pilgrims who are not carrying their own things. Usually they make exceptions for people with medical problems.
(We follow this policy at my house. )
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011 (2019)
I’ve done 3 Caminos and never heard or saw the rule you had to carry your packback.
There are albergues that have rules about this and many other things besides. These are not universal rules that apply to all albergues, just to one or a few, which can make it more difficult to know whether or not you will get a bed.

Brierley's guide describes such limitations, as do sites like Gronze, but how complete these are I cannot tell.
 

Cookiedave

Member
Camino(s) past & future
French way 2019
Hi,
I am planning my first camino frances starting 12/13th may i'm 51 yrs young, @ st jean, I have done a bit of research but have a question about accommodation can anyone recommend an albergue ?
ideally albergue for pilgrims....
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
You don’t need Spanish to read Gronze. Or not much any way. The language is simple and repetitive, the symbols are fairly universal. Stop thinking “I don’t understand Spanish”. Work on understanding some simple Spanish. You’re planning to walk in Spain remember 😀
 

Cookiedave

Member
Camino(s) past & future
French way 2019
You don’t need Spanish to read Gronze. Or not much any way. The language is simple and repetitive, the symbols are fairly universal. Stop thinking “I don’t understand Spanish”. Work on understanding some simple Spanish. You’re planning to walk in Spain remember 😀
lol,
 
Camino(s) past & future
Jul-Sept 2019: Six weeks in Northern Spain.
Apr 2018 Asturias
May 2016 CP: Portuguese
...And many people assume that private albergues are "nicer" than municipal albergues. Definitely not true. I have stayed in some pretty "rustic" private albergues, like La Hutte in Atapuerca...
I LUV the 'Rustic' places! 😍 It could have a dirt floor, as long as it's swept. ;)
 

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