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Buying an albergue

Maxou

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Le Puy-Fisterra
Lisbon-Fisterra
Hey everyone,

My wife and I met on the Camino from Le Puy 5 years ago, and walked a few Camino’s ever since.

We want to buy and run an albergue, or buy a place which can be turned into one. Somewhere remote on the Camino or near by a tiny village. Our questions are:
- where would you buy: Camino from Le Puy, Camino del Norte, Coastal Portuguese Camino or Camino Primitivo (and where exactly on those)
-is there anything you heard or saw is for sale on these? Even a piece of land

I am walking across a few Camino’s starting next week to look for places. Thanks a million for your advice.
 
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Pathfinder075

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (Villada to SdC) (2016)
Primitivo (Ribadesella to SdC) (2017)
There is always stuff around Lugo, occassionally on the Primitivo route or pretty near to it. Same with the Norte. I saw a couple on Rightmove a month back.

If you are looking to do this as a business, I would say don't bother. With what you will make, it's unlikely to be worth it. If on the other hand this is a second business or something you are doing to give something back with an ethos of breaking even (not for profit), then it might be possible.

If it was me I would not want one on any of the major routes. Norte already has too many.

I have considered this same question a few times and I came to the conclusion it wasn't possible financially. Now if I had a farm and operated the albergue as a side project, then that is doable. I saw an almost perfect location a few months back near Lugo that was on the Primitivo. Big house with a barn, 10 acres of land, well/borehole water, septic tank, solar and electricity. They wanted 50k and if i'd had 50k I would have bought it. I would have farmed bees and fruit trees, and run an albergue on the side. A simple albergue that wasn't there to rip off every pilgrim that stayed there. But that's me. If I made enough to cover my bills and expenses, that would suit me fine. You might be different. I wish you luck with your project, if you do undertake it. ;)
 
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Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
If I could not afford to subsidise from another income, and wanted to at least break even, I'd look at Le Puy to SJPDP. The gîtes in France seem slightly more commercial than Spanish albergues - more facilities but also more expensive. I'd look for something that had an alternative drawcard to walking. The possibility of a camping site beside a river, or on a canal route, or, as @Pathfinder075 suggests, with another business attached. I think of cafe, bakery, brewery, wines sales...something like that.

I do personally know of two chambre d'hôtes on the chemin that provide a good lifestyle for their owners - both doing bed and breakfast, with private rooms, one with four, the other five, rather luxurious, expensive, and in beautiful locations (one in SJPDP). The owners do the breakfasts and the cleaning themselves and are pretty much free each day from midday until breakfast, and during winter.

But that is not really the kind of thing you are considering.
 

Amy Davies

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Le Puy to Santigao and Portugal Camino
There is always stuff around Lugo, occassionally on the Primitivo route or pretty near to it. Same with the Norte. I saw a couple on Rightmove a month back.

If you are looking to do this as a business, I would say don't bother. With what you will make, it's unlikely to be worth it. If on the other hand this is a second business or something you are doing to give something back with an ethos of breaking even (not for profit), then it might be possible.

If it was me I would not want one on any of the major routes. Norte already has too many.

I have considered this same question a few times and I came to the conclusion it wasn't possible financially. Now if I had a farm and operated the albergue as a side project, then that is doable. I saw an almost perfect location a few months back near Lugo that was on the Primitivo. Big house with a barn, 10 acres of land, well/borehole water, septic tank, solar and electricity. They wanted 50k and if i'd had 50k I would have bought it. I would have farmed bees and fruit trees, and run an albergue on the side. A simple albergue that wasn't there to rip off every pilgrim that stayed there. But that's me. If I made enough to cover my bills and expenses, that would suit me fine. You might be different. I wish you luck with your project, if you do undertake it. ;)
That's exactly our plan! Don't suppose you still know if that farms for sale on the Primitivo? 😄 or the best websites to check?
 
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Maxou

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Le Puy-Fisterra
Lisbon-Fisterra
There is always stuff around Lugo, occassionally on the Primitivo route or pretty near to it. Same with the Norte. I saw a couple on Rightmove a month back.

If you are looking to do this as a business, I would say don't bother. With what you will make, it's unlikely to be worth it. If on the other hand this is a second business or something you are doing to give something back with an ethos of breaking even (not for profit), then it might be possible.

If it was me I would not want one on any of the major routes. Norte already has too many.

I have considered this same question a few times and I came to the conclusion it wasn't possible financially. Now if I had a farm and operated the albergue as a side project, then that is doable. I saw an almost perfect location a few months back near Lugo that was on the Primitivo. Big house with a barn, 10 acres of land, well/borehole water, septic tank, solar and electricity. They wanted 50k and if i'd had 50k I would have bought it. I would have farmed bees and fruit trees, and run an albergue on the side. A simple albergue that wasn't there to rip off every pilgrim that stayed there. But that's me. If I made enough to cover my bills and expenses, that would suit me fine. You might be different. I wish you luck with your project, if you do undertake it. ;)
Thank you so much
 

tigermike

Member
Time of past OR future Camino
CF: April/May 2018. CF Aug/Sep 2018. CF May/June 2019.
CF: Aug/Sep 2019, CF: Aug/Sep 2020
I think many of us have thought of owning some sort of business along the Camino as we 'escape' from the treadmill of our daily lives back home...It seems so ideal; meeting like-minded people everyday, sharing stories, experiences, adventures. Passing along tips and advice, making new friends and making some money - what's not to like ?
I know that I did, back in 2018, and was ready to sell up and find the perfect spot on the CF, somewhere semi-rural as I'm not a big town/city sort of person...
And therein lies the rub. Whilst the countryside may seen idyllic as we pass through it, wherever we are in the world, the reality is that those magnificent places invariably belong to someone, oftentimes families who have lived and worked the area for generations. And they are, again a generalisation, understandably protective of that legacy and suspicious of newcomers, particularly those who intend to put down roots and stay.
So my key questions, (long after the usual regulatory, language barrier, financial etc had been considered) were always, how will i be received, will the locals welcome me, will they understand my dream and, crucially, how long will it take before they trust and accept me in their community ?
Integration. long after the novelty had worn off, was the key - would I actually end up feeling at peace ?

And I'm still thinking.....
 

Pathfinder075

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (Villada to SdC) (2016)
Primitivo (Ribadesella to SdC) (2017)
So my key questions, (long after the usual regulatory, language barrier, financial etc had been considered) were always, how will i be received, will the locals welcome me, will they understand my dream and, crucially, how long will it take before they trust and accept me in their community ?
Integration. long after the novelty had worn off, was the key - would I actually end up feeling at peace ?

And I'm still thinking.....
The people side of it depends. I find if you are helpful, maybe introduce yourself to your neighbours, be friendly, etc. That goes a long way. Try to learn and use the language and fit in, even if it's just a few words initially it will go a long way and people will generally help you. You will learn the language in time.

If you rock up with an attitude and don't try and integrate at all, that's when you end up alienating everyone and causing problems for yourself.

In my own case I would be interested in Farming and more specifically a very specific end of farming, so it's unlikely I would cause much financial problem to the locals in the area. My interests lie in bees and specialist plants, basically horticulture and arboriculture. So any farm I ran would be aimed at honey production and growing certain plants.

I would also offer my services up locally, probably for base cost (I'm an Arborist by trade) or beer. I am generally laid back and would settle for a relatively simple life. I would probably not be selling my produce locally. If the project ever got off the ground I would probably be exporting back to the UK as part of a larger project. :)

So you need to think about your business side of it. If you are running an albergue, in a place that has no albergues, that's fine. If you are running it in a place with other albergues run by locals, then you might cause friction. Same goes for Cafes, Shops, etc. If you are pulling trade from locals, it will probably generate animosity. If your business runs in a niche, possibly specialist type area, it's unlikely you will have issues.
 
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Amy Davies

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Le Puy to Santigao and Portugal Camino
The people side of it depends. I find if you are helpful, maybe introduce yourself to your neighbours, be friendly, etc. That goes a long way. Try to learn and use the language and fit in, even if it's just a few words initially it will go a long way and people will generally help you. You will learn the language in time.

If you rock up with an attitude and don't try and integrate at all, that's when you end up alienating everyone and causing problems for yourself.

In my own case I would be interested in Farming and more specifically a very specific end of farming, so it's unlikely I would cause much financial problem to the locals in the area. My interests lie in bees and specialist plants, basically horticulture and arboriculture. So any farm I ran would be aimed at honey production and growing certain plants.

I would also offer my services up locally, probably for base cost (I'm an Arborist by trade) or beer. I am generally laid back and would settle for a relatively simple life. I would probably not be selling my produce locally. If the project ever got off the ground I would probably be exporting back to the UK as part of a larger project. :)

So you need to think about your business side of it. If you are running an albergue, in a place that has no albergues, that's fine. If you are running it in a place with other albergues run by locals, then you might cause friction. Same goes for Cafes, Shops, etc. If you are pulling trade from locals, it will probably generate animosity. If your business runs in a niche, possibly specialist type area, it's unlikely you will have issues.
Thank you Pathfinder! Very helpful advice!
 

Thomas1962

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2010/2011/2012/2013: Madrid -Salvador -Primitivo 2014: EPW 2015: Amsterdam - SdC
As I am having an albergue on the camino Primitivo near Lugo, I really feel offended by your suggestion that other albergues rip off pilgrims. In no way I can see albergues ripping off. There is no way that many albergueowners make a lot of profit. It is the contrary: working from 6 till 22, hoping to make good any of the loss of the last few years, just paying bills. Not even talking about making money.
Please, reconsider your words on this.
There is always stuff around Lugo, occassionally on the Primitivo route or pretty near to it. Same with the Norte. I saw a couple on Rightmove a month back.

If you are looking to do this as a business, I would say don't bother. With what you will make, it's unlikely to be worth it. If on the other hand this is a second business or something you are doing to give something back with an ethos of breaking even (not for profit), then it might be possible.

If it was me I would not want one on any of the major routes. Norte already has too many.

I have considered this same question a few times and I came to the conclusion it wasn't possible financially. Now if I had a farm and operated the albergue as a side project, then that is doable. I saw an almost perfect location a few months back near Lugo that was on the Primitivo. Big house with a barn, 10 acres of land, well/borehole water, septic tank, solar and electricity. They wanted 50k and if i'd had 50k I would have bought it. I would have farmed bees and fruit trees, and run an albergue on the side. A simple albergue that wasn't there to rip off every pilgrim that stayed there. But that's me. If I made enough to cover my bills and expenses, that would suit me fine. You might be different. I wish you luck with your project, if you do undertake it. ;)
 

BobY333

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino San Salvador/Primitivo May 2022 (planning!)
I just walked the Primitivo in May. Lugo was a major bottleneck because there were no places to stay for another 18km after the city. I liked Lugo, but I would have preferred to see it and walk on - which a number of others I was with would have preferred as well. So, I would highly recommend something about 5-10km after Lugo, assuming that's even possible! I believe this would be a magnet for pilgrims that don't want to stay in the "big city". Best of luck!!!
 
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Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Time of past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
As I am having an albergue on the camino Primitivo near Lugo, I really feel offended by your suggestion that other albergues rip off pilgrims. In no way I can see albergues ripping off. There is no way that many albergueowners make a lot of profit. It is the contrary: working from 6 till 22, hoping to make good any of the loss of the last few years, just paying bills. Not even talking about making money.
Please, reconsider your words on this.
Thomas, please be assured that we all recognise how hard it is to keep an albergue running even in good years, and the terrible situation every albergue has been in over the last three years.
 

Ronald Boivin

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2021
Hey everyone,

My wife and I met on the Camino from Le Puy 5 years ago, and walked a few Camino’s ever since.

We want to buy and run an albergue, or buy a place which can be turned into one. Somewhere remote on the Camino or near by a tiny village. Our questions are:
- where would you buy: Camino from Le Puy, Camino del Norte, Coastal Portuguese Camino or Camino Primitivo (and where exactly on those)
-is there anything you heard or saw is for sale on these? Even a piece of land

I am walking across a few Camino’s starting next week to look for places. Thanks a million for your advice.
Please choose a location far in between other Albergues and Town. Lots of large distances between towns on the Camino Mozarabe
 

Maxou

New Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Le Puy-Fisterra
Lisbon-Fisterra
As I am having an albergue on the camino Primitivo near Lugo, I really feel offended by your suggestion that other albergues rip off pilgrims. In no way I can see albergues ripping off. There is no way that many albergueowners make a lot of profit. It is the contrary: working from 6 till 22, hoping to make good any of the loss of the last few years, just paying bills. Not even talking about making money.
Please, reconsider your words on this.
Hey Thomas, would you mind if I private messaged you and asked you a few questions? I’ll be walking the primitivo in a few weeks, might meet you then at your albergue 😊
 
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xin loi

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Walked May 14, 2014 from St Jean France

starting to walk again August 25, 2016 --SJPDP to Finisterre
Friend from Denmark is thinking of starting an Albergue and he claims that there is Grant money and low interest loans available to EU citizens who wish to renovate an existing building into an Albergue. When we walked the Camino Frances a few years ago, we talked to several Albergue owners who said they had obtained such funding. I also thought about it but learned that as an American, I would be taxed MUCH higher than an EU citizen running an Albergue.

What ever happened to the Brit woman who rebuilt a building near Muxia and then found out the local law would NOT allow her to open it as an albergue--think it was in 2019?

After 5 Caminos, i think the best place I have seen for a new Albergue is the little village near the top of the highest hill on the Camino Portugese. Place is right before the pine forest where the trees are "Tapped" to collect sap. After walking for hours up that hill, i would have definitely stopped if there had been an albergue in that little village.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
- where would you buy: Camino from Le Puy, Camino del Norte, Coastal Portuguese Camino or Camino Primitivo (and where exactly on those)

Every time I walk the Primitivo, reaching Montefurado after the hard descent from Puerto de Palo, inevitably someone says — wouldn’t this be a great place for an albergue?!

It is essentially an abandoned stone village (or maybe still has one inhabitant). It is by road only 16 km from the fairly large town of Pola de Allande. It is also right on the road, though the camino does not go on the road to get there. Kind of perfectly located. It is also about 8 km before Berducedo, which tends to be a Primitivo bottleneck of sorts.

There is another beautiful, almost abandoned, village named Montefurado on the Invierno, but that camino is not on your list. If it were, however, it would also be a great place for an albergue, allowing people to extend what is now the ”normal”, very short 14 km stage from A Rúa. Montefurado is another 12 km further on, right on the Sil River, just lovely.

Good luck — I know many dream of this, so you will have a lot of people hoping for the best for you!
 

Richard of York

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2021
Perhaps a great dream. Lots of logistics. @Richard of York recently bought a donativo near Portomarin? You might check with someone who has done this for some pointers?
Mine is just a tea and biscuit stand, and I am subject to the 90 day Schengen rule so I have had to close for the summer, back in October after doing the San Salvador and Primitivo.

I know the strife my albergue neighbours have with bureaucracy, and the stories seem reflected elsewhere in this thread.
 

WGroleau

Wandering Weirdo
Time of past OR future Camino
2015 & 2016 (partial)
Maybe I scrolled too fast, but I didn't see any mention of the government issues one has to deal with. I made the mistake of informing the operator of some website that we had 25 beds instead of 26. Result was a couple of months of "attention" by the tourism office and a few inspections. And anyone doing hospitality (even AirBNB) is required to register every guest into a database maintained by the Guardia Civil. (And then instead of consulting their database, they call us up to ask if so-and-so had stayed with us.)
 

BobY333

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino San Salvador/Primitivo May 2022 (planning!)
Here’s a website that goes through one couple’s journey to opening an albuerge.

 
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Thomas1962

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2010/2011/2012/2013: Madrid -Salvador -Primitivo 2014: EPW 2015: Amsterdam - SdC
Hey Thomas, would you mind if I private messaged you and asked you a few questions? I’ll be walking the primitivo in a few weeks, might meet you then at your albergue 😊
Sure, welcome!
 

Pathfinder075

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Frances (Villada to SdC) (2016)
Primitivo (Ribadesella to SdC) (2017)
As I am having an albergue on the camino Primitivo near Lugo, I really feel offended by your suggestion that other albergues rip off pilgrims. In no way I can see albergues ripping off. There is no way that many albergueowners make a lot of profit. It is the contrary: working from 6 till 22, hoping to make good any of the loss of the last few years, just paying bills. Not even talking about making money.
Please, reconsider your words on this.
I have walked twice and some albergues were worth more money, some most definitely not. Some were privately owned some were owned by companies, some by the local councils. The ones owned by companies were generally expensive for what you got, privately owned and municipals were mostly ok. At the time I walked the average bed was 8-10 euros per night. So if I see 16 euros (or more) per night, I would expect it have more facilities (free wifi, etc). Most didn't. Sure the decorum was better and they looked newer, but that was about it. IMO, not worth 6-8 euros more. Are they ripping pilgrims off, (also IMO) yes. Admittedly most of this was in the last 100km, on the Frances, from Sarria. Especially around Arzua and beyond.

Maybe it was harsh to aim it at every albergue owner, but there are some albergues that are not good value. I have never stayed at your albergue so can't really cast judgement on your albergue.

Anyway I am not here to start a ruck. My views on this are my own.
If I bought somewhere and created my own business that happened to also provide beds (or tent space) for pilgrims, I would run it Donativo as someone suggested. I would see running an albergue as more of a duty, then as a business. It would not be my primary business as it isn't a good business model, but as a non-profit side hustle that helps people, I would consider it a good project. If you or someone else wants to run it as a primary business, I wish you luck. We are all entitled to do things our own way. :)
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Time of past OR future Camino
Many, various, and continuing.
I am an expat who has lived on the CF for 16 years, run albergues, etc... In the "resources" section on this website is an essay written several years ago that is still very relevant: "So you want to run your own albergue,' or something very similar. It answers a lot of these perennial questions.
It is a beautiful dream, but not very easy to execute.
 

xin loi

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Walked May 14, 2014 from St Jean France

starting to walk again August 25, 2016 --SJPDP to Finisterre
Agree with you about running one for personal reasons. One of the most memorable albergues for me was the one run by the Ex War Correspondent from Canada. His wife always wanted to have an albergue to serve Pilgrims but she was killed in Syria covering the fighting. He bought and renovated an albergue for her. Charges 8 euros a night which includes supper and breakfast and wine is three euros. BUT ---if you have nothing then everything is free. He does your laundry but will not hang it--throws everyone's clothes in a big pile and you root thru the pile and hang your own stuff. At Santiago I met some people who had also stayed there and rather than fly back home , they were returning to that albergue to help him for a few days. Interesting man and great place to find.
 
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BobY333

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
Camino San Salvador/Primitivo May 2022 (planning!)
Agree with you about running one for personal reasons. One of the most memorable albergues for me was the one run by the Ex War Correspondent from Canada. His wife always wanted to have an albergue to serve Pilgrims but she was killed in Syria covering the fighting. He bought and renovated an albergue for her. Charges 8 euros a night which includes supper and breakfast and wine is three euros. BUT ---if you have nothing then everything is free. He does your laundry but will not hang it--throws everyone's clothes in a big pile and you root thru the pile and hang your own stuff. At Santiago I met some people who had also stayed there and rather than fly back home , they were returning to that albergue to help him for a few days. Interesting man and great place to find.
What a great story - care to share where this was? thanks!
 

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