I have now tried around a dozen places to sleep in Santiago de Compostela and here are three places I am very fond of, one place I’m glad I’ve tried and a single but huge warning
The best place to sleep in Santiago took some time for me to find. I wanted to take the whole city in every second and didn’t want to have to walk a kilometer or 2 for a bed and a place to put my backpack down, which I cannot bring to the cathedral. Besides, a hotel felt wrong after all those nights sleeping in dormitories.
The old monastery: San Martin Pinario
The atmospheric former monastery San Martin Pinario is a neighbor to the cathedral.
The monastery is today a 5-star hotel that anyone can book through booking.com. This is not the best part of the hotel – this is just the hotel hotel part! The best part of this is that San Martin the top floor hasn’t been restored since the tultra-simple rooms were the home of the monastery’s monks. These special pilgrim rooms can only be booked via phone: +34 981 560 282. Neither mail nor booking sites will get you these rooms. They cost 23 euros per room and they are for two persons.
You cannot be certain that everything works in the room, nor that you can stay warm without an effort, but the view over the city is unique and the historical feeling and the respectful monastic life makes the experience exclusive. The rooms lay undisturbed under the roof and it is quiet, even though you are living in the middle of the city. Add the unique buildings around you and a huge breakfast.
The only down side is that the areas in front of the monastery don’t really invite to casual relaxations, but you can make use of the parks and green areas around instead.
Dormitory with garden centrally located: KM 0
During the summer of 2018 a dormitory opened on the same street as the pilgrim’s office and very close to the cathedral. The staff is very friendly and helpful and the garden lies to the west allowing for the perfect lounging place.
TIP: when you book, ask for the room that is on the ground level out toward the garden or a room on the second floor overlooking the garden. The other side’s view is enchanting as you look over the street, but it is noisy with garbage trucks and gates opening and closing across the street. At the top floor you are exempt from footsteps on the stairs. The beds are good and a bit futuristic with functional lamps, electric outlets and a shelf for each pilgrim.
Its logo is five lines, symbolizing the five main caminos into Santiago. Look for them in the roof lighting as well. The price for a sleeping hall with 6 beds is 20 euros and 22 euros for a room with 4 beds.
Book at KM0 here.
Hippie dormitory in backpacker-style: Roots and Boots
This is a nice, kindda hippie dormitory in a worn down, charming town house with the loveliest view toward the cathedral. It has a common room and a big sleeping hall. There are a number of young pilgrims logged here and it is a only a few 100 meters from the cathedral and next door to Park Alameda – in which a night stroll is obligatory.
Roots and Boots has a cute yard with many good lounging areas – the whole place makes you want to hang out and feel at home. It is very sparsely soundproofed and the risk of happy pilgrims coming home late is high. So expect noise. You can buy breakfast and choose between a sleeping hall with either 8, 6, or 4 beds for 13, 15, and 16 euros respectively.
Albergue Seminario Menor
The municipality dormitory in Santiago is an experience in itself, just because it is legendary to stay in what has to be Europe’s largest pilgrim dormitory. 416 pilgrim beds can be fit into the building – and often it is sold out.
Everyone can walk in from the street, so take care of your belongings and lock them in the boxes even while you sleep. You can book a space in the mixed sleeping hall for 11 euros while a single room costs 14 euros.
The only downside is it is a 15-20 minutes’ walk from the cathedral. This means you cannot take a break (siesta) in the middle of the day there, or pick something up you’ve forgotten in your backpack. We chose to spend money on backpack storage at the corner by Praza das Praterias just behind the cathedral, and only went to the dormitory when we wanted to sleep.
I am very happy that I tried sleeping at the legendary Seminario Menor, but will not choose to walk there again. Are you arriving from the French route, then the way there is only a 5 minute detour each way walking into town.
Never go: The apartment with the rave reviews…
It looked like it was too good to be true – and it was! We booked a small apartment cheap and central with rave reviews on a booking site. It took us over a year to get over the nightmare!
Picture this: Our windows were directly above the Bar and disco Maycar. Partying Spaniards to the early hours of the morning. Saturday night – 120 talking and chain smoking party animals directly under our windows all night long. We didn’t get one minute of sleep. The neighbor partied until 4 AM and then threw up the rest of the night.
At 7AM we gave up and walked over for a morning coffee and our compostelas. Never ever book ApartamentosQU in Santiago.
All is well that ends well
As fate would have it we found ourselves in a very lucky place that day at the pilgrim’s office after a hell of a night.