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Thursday, September 25, 2014 (read 877 times)
The Best (Alternative) Accommodation in Spainby David
When I first travelled in Spain in 1993, I remember going around the country with my girlfriend (now my wife) in her parents '85 Honda Civic wagon. We didn't really have an itinerary planned and we didn't really have a lot of money to spend either. We did carry a 20 year old tent in the trunk in case we found ourselves without accommodation or near a campground: when we did end up using it, we were thoroughly embarrassed by how sad we must have looked considering that the Spanish idea of camping is far from what my experience of roughing it was.
Choosing an Accomodation in Spain
On that trip we spent a month moving across Spain (that was before the construction of many of the highways that now exist today) seeing some amazing places, eating incredibly good food and making memories that still linger strong today. But back then we didn't have a clue about accommodation and it would have been nice to go a bit more prepared in that area. I'm going to mention some ways to live with a roof over your head when you decide to come and visit Spain.
This is probably the cheapest form of accommodation in Spain. You may also see Albergue Juvenil which is the term used in Spanish to mean youth hostel. Along the Camino de Santiago you will also see Albergues de Peregrinos for travelers following the Camino. One characteristic common to the Albergue (along with their cheap price) is the communal nature of the facility and the lack of intimacy.
A hostal or Pensión (they're the same thing) in the traditional sense is a family run hotel or guest house offering the bare minimum in terms of accommodation and usually nothing by way of services. This modest accommodation is used often by workers with jobs in a town that is not their own or your typical travelling salesmen. This is also an interesting option for people looking to travel on a budget. There are some nicer hostales which may also include or offer breakfast but, in general, they are typically very minimalist. One thing to keep in mind that hostales have a 3 star system which means that between 1 and 3 there can be a world of difference. Also, be sure when to know that if the room you are getting has a private or shared bathroom. Usually a private bathroom is a little more expensive. Finding a good hostal usually involves a very good guide book or lots of time invested in scouring the web but they do exist and this is a very interesting option.
If you are going to spend time in one city or town it may be worth it to look into an apartment. If you are coming to study, the company you are coming with (like the host of this blog) can organize a private or shared apartment. Often times, this option can be a very economical way to spend time in Spain. The apartments are privately owned but have all the amenities of a typical apartment back home: TV, telephone, kitchen, bathroom with shower and, of course, your own room. The great thing about this option is that for less than the price of a hotel you can live like a local and see a side of Spain without having to answer to anyone, except the landlord when you check out…
Something that has been on the rise the last few years is the growth of casas rurales. Spain has a very rich rural identity and all over the country there are thousands of tiny pueblos waiting to be discovered. One way to discover these tiny villages is to stay in a casa rural. These are similar to a B&B where you can stay in a room or rent out an entire house depending on your needs. Prices are typically less than a hotel (but not by much, sometimes) but the charm and experience is truly unique. In Castilla y León, where Salamanca is located, there is a vast offering of this rural lodging. If you stay in a large casa rural (or Complejo Turistico Rural) which is similar to an inn, these will often have a restaurant or café where you will be served your meals if you so choose. If you stay in a small casa rural you can pay to have someone come (usually the owners) and cook the meals that you would like to have prepared. If you want to go off the beaten track, this is an excellent way to go in terms of accommodation.
Camping in Spain
My experience with camping, as I mentioned before, has been roughing it in a musty tent and sleeping badly on a foam mat. In Spain that concept doesn't really exist. Here campgrounds (there are more than 1000 of them) have a variety of services with most having a pool, restaurant, store, showers and clean restrooms. Here, you can pitch a tent with no problem but you will find yourself surrounded by sleek campers and camper vans with all of the amenities and creature comforts of home. This is a great way to make friends and meet new people who, like you, are looking to take a break from the real world. Some campgrounds also have wooden cabins or bungalows that can be rented out in case you don't feel like sleeping in a tent. This option is particularly popular all along the Mediterranean coast and in the South where the weather is more predictable and warm, but campgrounds are popular all over Spain.
As you can see, when travelling you are not a slave to the hotel chains. There are plenty of interesting options for finding someplace to sleep and there are some other possibilities that aren’t mentioned in here like pazos in Galicia or posadas in Castilla y León. One thing each of these forms of accommodation will afford you is a great way to meet other people in an environment that gets you closer to the experience of living in Spain.
Keywords: living in spain,visit spain,camping in spain,apartments in spain,apartment spain,accommodation in spain
Posted In: Culture