How To: Sleep Peacefully on the Camino de Santiago
One of the more unique aspects of the Camino de Santiago is the system of pilgrim hostels established as accommodations along the way known as albergues. Available exclusively to pilgrims, these facilities offer an inexpensive one-night stay option along The Way.
Generally, albergues provide simple accommodations such as communal bathrooms and kitchen facilities to prepare meals. Some albergues may also include a basic communal dinner in the cost of the bed. Not every albergue offers private rooms, so it may be beneficial to book ahead of your arrival if this is you preference.
Provided you have your pilgrim passport, nightly accommodations in albergues (dedicated pilgrim hostels) can range from $5 for a dormitory bed to $45 for a private room. Church-run albergues may be listed a “donativo” rather than a fixed cost; it is recommended that you pay $10-$20 per night based on the level of accommodation.
It should also be noted that albergues have very specific rules of pilgrim behavior, including:
- You may stay in the pilgrims´ lodgings for one night only, except in cases of force majeure.
- Albergues can be accessed before 10:00 p.m., at which time the pilgrims´ lodgings will close.
- You must check out of the pilgrims’ lodgings before 10:00 a.m.
- You must take care of the facilities, leaving them tidy and clean, and not abusing the water and electricity services.
In my experience, municipal and church-run albergues are the most basic offerings, with some being better maintained than others, whereas privately run albergues offer noticeably better accommodations, albeit at a higher nightly rate. To misuse a metaphor, they are the difference between black coffee in a foam cup versus a latte from Starbucks.
Click here for a detailed list of albergues and accommodations:
Additional options in larger cities will include pensions (private rooms in a local home) and hotels, with the most lavish of all options being the government-run Parador hotels, which may offer a few pilgrim-rated rooms each night (call ahead for details). In my travels, I found that Booking.com was the best tool to researching and booking private accommodations.
Average Accommodation Costs Per Night:
$10-$15 Albergue Dormitory Bed
$35-$45 Albergue Private Room
$35-$60 Pension Private Room
$60-$110 Hotel Private Room
For more information on costs, please see this post: How Much Does It Cost to Walk the Camino de Santiago
TIPS FOR A BETTER NIGHT SLEEP ON THE CAMINO
Whether you stay in a communal albergue or a private hotel room along the Camino, it’s critical that you awake refreshed each morning. Getting sufficient rest while on the trail is critical to maintaining both your spirit and your stamina. This can be particularly challenging if you are staying in a communal space like a hostel or albergue.
In my experience, a great sleep mask and earplugs are key to getting a good night’s rest. Having tried (and tried) a great number of options, I can finally say with certainty that I have found some of the very best.
SLEEP MASK: The ALASKA BEAR Silk Sleep Mask is the very best sleep mask option. At roughly $10, this mask is five-star rated on Amazon by approximately 4,000 users for its soft, high-quality silk and dual adjustable straps which limit pressure for the wearer. Admittedly I’m not a sleep mask user but this one is really fantastic. Most highly recommended!
EAR PLUGS: The most important Camino accessories, ear plug can help shut out the coughing, snoring, and other assorted noises that would otherwise interrupt sleep in an albergue or hostel. Rated in terms of decibel reduction the Howard Leight by Honeywell 33db MAX Foam Earplugs are the most comfortable max-rated earplugs available. If you want to make lifelong friends along the Camino de Santiago, bring a large bag of these earplugs to share!
PILLOW: Different from the donut-shaped airplane pillows, I prefer to travel with an comfortable half-sized pillow to ensure that I always get a great sleep nightly. While albergues, hostels and hotels all have pillows, I can confidently vouch for both the cleanliness and comfort of my travel pillow. Whether backpacking on the Appalachain Trail or the Camino de Santiago, the Nemo Fillo Inflatable Travel Pillow provides a gel-supported night of rest. This pillow has literally been around the world with me and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
BED LINER: Equally important – and arguably more so – is keeping yourself and your gear free from bed bugs, especially in hostels and albergues where the daily turn of guests and backpacks create an ideal environment for bedbugs.
Treated to resist bed bugs, the Traveller Liner with Insect Shield is a rectangular-shaped bed liner (85” length x 36” width) intended as a layer between you and those hostel bed linens. Th liner itself is a very lightweight polyester intended only to keep bed bugs away, not as an additional insulated layer. In all my travels … zero bed bugs. It packs up smaller than a solo cup and weighs just 11 ounces.
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Husband. Father. Backpacker. Pilgrim. Author.
After years of section hiking the Florida Trail and Appalachian Trail, I set out in 2019 to complete the Camino de Santiago through Portugal and Spain. The experience changed the direction of my life and I’ve been walking in pilgrimage ever since. My recent journeys include the California Mission Walk and England’s Pilgrims’ Way from London to Canterbury. I’m currently walking sections of the Via Francigena through Europe to Rome.