Officially there are only three categories of accommodations in Spain-- hoteles (hotels), pensiones and hostales. In fact, rooming establishments go by a variety of names. Some of the name differences are due to regional regulation and custom.
Pensiones - in my experience, well-used rooms, no-air conditioning, shared bathroom. Guest rooms may be small, have a sink but lack a towel, and they don't take credit cards. Most likely staff will not speak much English. Never the less, I have been told some very nice, economical, pensions do exist in Spain, you will likely find them outside of Madrid and Barcelona.
You can find pensiones for one person as low as 15
per night during the off season. A couple during high season can pay 40
or more. Pensiones and hostals are often only around the corner from more expensive hotels.
What type of room do you get for 15
a night? Well, in my case, I got a room with a lumpy mattress and plaster chunks missing from the wall. Still, the pension was right next door to a nicer hotel, and the clerk did watch the front door closely.
Hostels- Generally known as youth hostels but families can often stay too. To book Hostels try this booking engine from 'Hostel World'.
Hostales - Generally have nicer rooms than the pensiones. Some hostales are very nice (One of Spain's best hotels, the Parador of Santiago de Compostela is actually called the Hostal de Dos Reis Catolicos.) and like pensiones are usually family owned. Some hostales have private baths, generally with towels but no washcloths; a few have air-conditioning. You are more likely to find staff that speaks English at a hostal than a pension.
When traveling alone, I generally tried to find hostales to spend the night. Rates run from 12
to 120 + euros, depending on quality. You are more likely to find nice hostales, at a reasonable cost, in the smaller cities. Click here to see some vid. caps. of a hostal in Madrid.
Use the Hostel World's Hostal Booking Engine (Note: This booking engine will give different results than the hostel booking engine above.)
Note: Many Hostales and Pensiones lock their doors at night and lack room locks that automatically unlock from the inside. (see "where should I stay?")
Hostales Residencia -Basically same as above. I have heard two explanations for the "residencia" label; Explanation No. 1, a hostal that doesn't have a restaurant. Explanation No. 2 and the one that makes the most sense to me, the hostal is promoting long-term renting of the rooms.
During my last trip to Spain, as we toured a small village, a guide pointed out a sign posted on a house "rural guest house". Country houses (similar to B&B's) are found in small villages and in the countryside. A growing subcategory of this group is agrotourism. Agrotourism means staying on farms or ranches and, usually, taking on an active roll in the chores of the house/farm. One caution here; if during the time of your visit there has been an out break of a cattle disease you likely will be asked to engage in a disinfectant process on returning to your country of origin. Even after going through the disinfectant you will need to stay away from any farms in your home country for a minimum of three weeks.
Hoteles - (Hotels) All rooms generally have private bathrooms, can be very luxurious, and most have air-conditioning--a must for summer traveling.
When traveling with my family, we stay in hotels. Generally, with the exception of the cheapest hotels, hotels in tourist areas will have an English-speaking person at the desk. Price range 25 to 900
. Click here to see some photos of a mid-price hotel in Madrid.
Paradores de turismo - a state-run chain of high-class hotels, converted mansions, castles, monasteries and palaces. Price approx. 75
and up. To include one of these in your visit, do make reservations early; it is not unusual for paradores to be booked up 6 months in advance. Paradores can be booked throughMadrid & Beyond.
Next: Where type of Spain accommodation is best to stay in?