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Private rooms saved my Camino

W

Wanderer64

Guest
Like most other CF pilgrims, I had every intention to stay mostly in shared dorm lodging (albergues) during my walk, but as an older guy who has lived abroad and travelled extensively, I'm wise enough to know that life on the road often doesn't go according to plan, so I budgeted accordingly.

The first week of my Camino I stayed only in albergues, but after that my tolerance for shared dorm sleeping diminished. I'm a very light sleeper and prone to insomnia as it is and the best earplugs money can buy do not work for me.

By the time I reached Leon, I had all but abandoned albergues in favour of cheap private rooms at hostals and pensions. And I'm glad I did because this saved my Camino. I have no doubt in my mind that had I tried to tough it out at albergues, I would have abandoned my Camino before Santiago. There is often much joking about this issue of dorm sleep hardships, but sleep deprivation is a killer, can lead to serious mental and physical health issues. It kills your mood, lowers your immune system and results in a really lousy overall experience.

After resigning myself to stay only in private rooms, my Camino improved dramatically as I was able to regain my purpose and focus of why I was doing this walk.

There were other incidents in my initial stays at albergues that encouraged my transition to private rooms. I had a couple articles of clothing snatched from my bag. One fellow pilgrim reported having her scallop shell snipped from her backpack at the albergue in Pamplona. In one sleepy backwater albergue in the Meseta, a fellow pilgrim was robbed of all his cash while he slept. I heard later that others had also been robbed at that albergue. I also found some, not all, large groups of pilgrims to be annoyingly disrespectful of shared dorm etiquette, treating the dorm as their own private bedroom well after 10pm.

The difference in cost between an albergue and a private room can be as little as €10. The benefits of getting consistently sound sleep, for me, are almost immeasurable.

So, if you are worried about this issue, play it safe and budget for stays in private rooms just in case you need to go this route. I was paying anywhere from €17 to €35 per night, which is pretty damn good by European lodging standards.

The other benefit of private rooms is that you do not get caught up in the 5am race for limited beds from albergue to albergue during peak season. I always left each morning on my own terms and never ever had to worry about not finding a bed at the next stop.

And ignore those who insist you are missing out on the "true" Camino experience by not staying exclusively in albergues. There's absolutely nothing wrong, bourgeois, anti-social or anti-Camino about doing what you feel you need to do to get through your Camino.
 

tyrrek

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP-SdC (4-5/2011), Ferrol-SdC (9/2011), Pamplona-SdC (3-4/2012), Camino Finisterre (10/2012), Ourense-SdC (5/2014)
I agree that private rooms can be a good option, especially if you're a light sleeper. And yes, the cost can vary dramatically and it's not always obvious why. I found the typical cost to be around 30-35 Euros for a basic single room, but found some perfectly adequate places for less than 2o. In some towns there isn't much choice so you really just have to go with the flow. If one night it's a bit more expensive than you'd like, just remember that the next night you might find somewhere much cheaper to balance it out.

I often suggest sharing a private room with like-minded members of your Camino family. You get a bit more privacy and security than an albergue, but it's usually considerably cheaper than a single room. Private rooms in albergues are also a great compromise where available.

The biggest advantages of the albergue (apart from the pilgrim company when it's not snoring/thieving etc) are the cooking and laundry facilities. OK, you can wash clothes in the sink in a private room, but sometimes there's nowhere to dry them.

If you're fortunate enough to have the budget just see how you feel day to day. Try not to stick with either up to the point where it's getting on your nerves, but glide gracefully between the two. :D Buen Camino!
 

Thornley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances [08 ]Portuguese [09 ]Le Puy[10] Norte[ 11] Madrid [12] Figeac - Pamplona [13] Mont Saint Michel - Bordeaux / St Palais - Pamplona [14] Moissac -Burgos [15] , Norte to Oviedo and then Primitivo [16]
Le Puy to Moissac and Dax to Santo Domingo
Have just completed 3 weeks walk from Pamplona to Sahagan [ home for the early birth of grandchild] and again stayed in private albergues , pensions / hotels
In Los Arcos i paid the albergue for the 2 beds in the room and had a great sleep.
On most occasions they took our clothes and washed , no charge.
No hurrying for rooms and taking in the scenery, villages is what appeals to us.
To sit down for lunch with the locals in the back room "Comedor" enjoying the menu del dia is always part of our camino
Dinner is fruit,cheese wine and whenever available plenty of good tapas.

I avoid Brieley like the plague and use Mundi Camino or MMDD
The local tourist centre will give you an upgrade on accommodation for the days ahead if you ask.
Brieley lost us in 2007 [ our first Camino] when he recommended Larossoana
 

DebR

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances:
2013; 2014; 2015; 2017; 2018 (October)
I budgeted for albergues, broken up by a hotel or private room about once a week, and for me that was perfect. There were really only one or two albergues that I didn't love, and ovcasiomally it was knowing I could opt out and have a room of my own once in a while that made the difference.

Of course, your perceptions quickly change on the camino: when I saw the bathroom in my hostel room in Logrono, the first thing that went through my mind was 'heated towel rail! Dry socks'... And sometimes I got lonely in those rooms, once the clothes were washed, and found myself going in search of churches, bars and peregrinos for company.

Budget for a night or two of luxury if you can, would be my suggestion, and if you do, try the Parador in Leon. To stay where pilgrims stayed so long ago, and in such a stunning, atmospheric place, was actually quite a highlight and relatively inexpensive compared to what its like would cost at home.

So many reasons to go back.
 

Trudy

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
(2006) Roncesvalles to Leon (2007) Leon to Compostela
In addition to albergues, the Confraternity of St James "Guide to the Camino Frances" lists many hotels and casa rurales along with prices, number of rooms, and phone numbers so you can book ahead. It's a basic guide compared to the Brierley book, and much lighter to carry. But I've taken both on past caminos. http://www.csj.org.uk

Trudy
 

Magnara

Maggie Ramsay
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago de Compostela (2005) Via Francigena (2010) Le Puy to St Jean (2014)
We always stayed in private accommodation because we walked in the winter and the albergues were (almost) all closed. We just walked into whatever town we decided to stop for the night and asked at a bar or cafe. Easy. Occasionally the hotelier would call ahead and book us in somewhere. I agree about lashing out for the parador in Leon - it was an absolute highlight and saved our camino, three days there -bliss- and we were ready and raring to go again. There is no right way, even though some people seem to think there are rules.
Maggie Ramsay
The Italian Camino (Amazon)
 

Anne100

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino del Norte, Sept.-Nov. (2013)
Excellent post, Wanderer64. Those are some of the reasons I carry a private room with me (my tent), especially how much I value my sleep. Insufficient sleep at night means no walking the next day for me.
 

caminoforme86

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances October 2013 - December 2013
We always stayed in private accommodation because we walked in the winter and the albergues were (almost) all closed. We just walked into whatever town we decided to stop for the night and asked at a bar or cafe. Easy. Occasionally the hotelier would call ahead and book us in somewhere. I agree about lashing out for the parador in Leon - it was an absolute highlight and saved our camino, three days there -bliss- and we were ready and raring to go again. There is no right way, even though some people seem to think there are rules.
Maggie Ramsay
The Italian Camino (Amazon)

Hi,

Which winter months did you walk the Camino? I am hoping that although some may be closed in November that many will still remain open as I am doing the Camino on not a tight budget but can not afford to stay in Private accommodation. And was this on the Camino Frances?

Many thanks
Kathryn
 

BlackDog

Older Peregrino
Camino(s) past & future
Francés part 2012, Francés 2013, Inglés 2014, Muxía 2014, Fisterra 2012, 2014, Portugués 2016, 2018
I've found the new (May 2013) guide "Hiking the Camino de Santiago" by Anna Dintaman & David Landis very useful as they provide details of both albergues and hostals for each of the stages along the CF.
 

KentuckyJay

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Hiked Leon to Santiago in May, 2014.
Hiked Porto to Santiago in May, 2016.
Like most other CF pilgrims, I had every intention to stay mostly in shared dorm lodging (albergues) during my walk, but as an older guy who has lived abroad and travelled extensively, I'm wise enough to know that life on the road often doesn't go according to plan, so I budgeted accordingly.

The first week of my Camino I stayed only in albergues, but after that my tolerance for shared dorm sleeping diminished. I'm a very light sleeper and prone to insomnia as it is and the best earplugs money can buy do not work for me.

By the time I reached Leon, I had all but abandoned albergues in favour of cheap private rooms at hostals and pensions. And I'm glad I did because this saved my Camino. I have no doubt in my mind that had I tried to tough it out at albergues, I would have abandoned my Camino before Santiago. There is often much joking about this issue of dorm sleep hardships, but sleep deprivation is a killer, can lead to serious mental and physical health issues. It kills your mood, lowers your immune system and results in a really lousy overall experience.

After resigning myself to stay only in private rooms, my Camino improved dramatically as I was able to regain my purpose and focus of why I was doing this walk.

There were other incidents in my initial stays at albergues that encouraged my transition to private rooms. I had a couple articles of clothing snatched from my bag. One fellow pilgrim reported having her scallop shell snipped from her backpack at the albergue in Pamplona. In one sleepy backwater albergue in the Meseta, a fellow pilgrim was robbed of all his cash while he slept. I heard later that others had also been robbed at that albergue. I also found some, not all, large groups of pilgrims to be annoyingly disrespectful of shared dorm etiquette, treating the dorm as their own private bedroom well after 10pm.

The difference in cost between an albergue and a private room can be as little as €10. The benefits of getting consistently sound sleep, for me, are almost immeasurable.

So, if you are worried about this issue, play it safe and budget for stays in private rooms just in case you need to go this route. I was paying anywhere from €17 to €35 per night, which is pretty damn good by European lodging standards.

The other benefit of private rooms is that you do not get caught up in the 5am race for limited beds from albergue to albergue during peak season. I always left each morning on my own terms and never ever had to worry about not finding a bed at the next stop.

And ignore those who insist you are missing out on the "true" Camino experience by not staying exclusively in albergues. There's absolutely nothing wrong, bourgeois, anti-social or anti-Camino about doing what you feel you need to do to get through your Camino.
 

KentuckyJay

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Hiked Leon to Santiago in May, 2014.
Hiked Porto to Santiago in May, 2016.
Well said. I have yet to step onto the Camino (I plan to do so on April 28 near Leon and hike to Santiago), but have hiked approximately 1800 miles of the Appalachian Trail in the U.S. Some nights I utilized my single tent, but most nights were spent in shelters that held anywhere from 8 to 40 people or hostels/bunkhouses. Occasionally and for a variety of reasons, one simply has to spend a few extra $$$ and spend a night in a hotel/motel. Trail purists might disagree, but as they say on the AT, "hike your own hike."
 

DesertRain

Member
I hesitate to share this, but it was one of the lasting memories of my Camino.... My wife and I had stayed in the Leon Parador on a previous trip to Spain and loved it. Last year when I arrived in Leon on foot, I planned to spend one night in the albergue followed by a night in the Parador. Then I visited the historic display in one of the public areas. Among the other information were first-hand accounts of imprisonment, torture and executions that took place in the building during the Spanish Civil War. Not ancient history, but accounts by people still alive today. I found it too difficult to process the contrast of a luxury hotel on the site of so much pain and sorrow. I couldn't help wonder what the elderly ladies and gentlemen I saw outside thought about it all. I ended up finding a wonderful small hotel behind the cathedral for my second night in Leon.

Back on the main topic of this thread, I absolutely loved the albergues.... six days each week. Getting a private room weekly was a wonderful treat. I could stand under the hot shower for as long as I wanted without feeling like there was a line outside the door; I could sleep in and get a nice breakfast before a long day of walking. It definitely kept me energized and happy.
 

Thengel1

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF April-May 2013; mid-Sept. 2017
I mostly stayed in albergue's and generally found them fine, although there were a couple of nights where the snoring kept me up (but only a couple). There were zero incidents of thieving or rude behaviour that I noticed, though I have been accused of having an excessively tolerant nature. Also, I travelled in April-May, when racing for beds was not an issue at all (I was turned away from my first choice of albergue exactly 3 times, and only one of them could be described as even a small inconvenience.)

I stayed in private rooms in ??? places along the way, and oddly, everyone of them was for a different reason.

Viskarret/Gerendiain - After a truly wretched first day walking from SJPDP to Roncesvalles (I'll spare you the details, but to give you an idea... when I changed into my sandals, one of the albergue staff had to tighten them for me, because I couldn't stretch my muscles far enough to reach; also I spent the first two hours after going to bed trying not to make any noise as muscle cramps came and went almost continuously in my legs and feet), I managed only 12 km before crashing, and at the moment I crashed there was a Casa Rurales right nest store, so...

Pamplona - two nights, always intended to stay here an extra night and do some sightseeing.

Estella - problems with a rash, that needed to be exposed to air, which I couldn't do in shared accommodations

Carrion de los Condes - There was a guy handing out flyers as I entered the town, and I was seduced by the prospect of laundry. Wasn't impressed by the place in truth.

Ponferrada - The only albergue seemed like it was a long way out of town, and I wanted to see the castle.

Palas de Rei - The private albergue was full, but the guy running mentioned there was a very cheap Casa across the street (and he was right, only 20 euros with a private bathroom)

the very next night, I stayed in the Hotel at O Coto, because I had flu-like symptoms and didn't dare stay in an albergue I passed 2.7 km previously for fear of infecting other pilgrims. Believe me, I did not want to walk those 2.7 km.


This may be partially due to my being introverted and travelling alone, but I found myself feeling very disconnected from the camino after staying in private spaces.
 
A

AJ

Guest
I like the conviviality of an albergue but also the privacy of a hostal. On much of the route I took this year there were no albergues. Where I stay depends on what is available, whether I am alone or with others and my mood. Incidentally I have suffered bedbug bites in hostals as well as albergues.
 

daesdaemar

Camino-holic
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Ingles - twice
Absolutely agree with IP. I needed a private room every night to reflect and recuperate. I don't believe I'd be able to do the Camino [trying to] sleeping in dorm conditions.
 

StuartM

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012)
I did a mix of albergues and private rooms on the Frances and the same on the Salvador but with the addition of a tent. I only used it one night but really regret not using it more. Not because of problems in albergues but because I ended up in some incredibly beautiful wild places. Sometimes communal living is great, sometimes privacy is great and sometimes waking up at dawn under a beautiful open sky really is incredible.

I enjoyed the albergue experience but was often surprised how other people interpreted the idea of communal living as "I'll do right for me first".
 

Magnara

Maggie Ramsay
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago de Compostela (2005) Via Francigena (2010) Le Puy to St Jean (2014)
Hi,

Which winter months did you walk the Camino? I am hoping that although some may be closed in November that many will still remain open as I am doing the Camino on not a tight budget but can not afford to stay in Private accommodation. And was this on the Camino Frances?

Many thanks
Kathryn
We walked the Frances in the end of December, January and the first half of February. The most difficult was the two weeks between Christmas and 6th January (the Tres Reyes celebration), when many Spaniards go on holidays, so a lot of businesses are shut.
 

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