Where to Stay on Your Spanish Vacation

A Franciscan monestary in Granada that has been turned into a parador nacionale.
••• Victor Ovies Arenas / Getty Images

Spain has an abundance of accommodation available - no matter what level of comfort and price you are used to, there'll be an accommodation that's right for you in Spain. Here is an overview of the types of accommodation available.

Paradors

A parador is a luxury state-run hotel. Most are in castles or former monasteries. The service can be as you might expect from a state-run organization and sometimes the age of the building might make certain facilities impractical (such as a sauna), but the setting will be second to none.

Private Rooms/Apartments, Home Exchange, and Couchsurfing

Airbnb is the accommodation service that is taking the online world by storm. Locals in Spain (and all over the world) offer their spare room on the secure Airbnb website. They make a little extra cash and we get accommodation at way lower prices than at traditional hotels. What could be better?

Alternatively, if you have an empty apartment of your own you'd like filling, a home exchange is a great way to get what would normally be expensive accommodation during high season.

If you don't have a home to swap, maybe you could just borrow someone's couch for a few days (known as 'couchsurfing'). Your host could also act as a handy guide to your destination.

Check out our page on Home Exchange and Couchsurfing for more details.

Budget hotels and backpackers hostels

If you're short of cash, or you'd rather spend your money on other pursuits, you'll be pleased to learn there are plenty of budget hotels in Spain.

Most touristy cities will have a couple of backpackers hostel (where you usually sleep in a dormitory), while there's also the state-run youth hostels.

Hosteling International Youth Hostel or Backpacker's Hostel?

If you want to pay rock bottom prices and don't mind sharing a room with strangers, a youth hostel is a great place to stay in Spain.

There are two main types of youth hostel in Spain: official Hosteling International Hostels or independent backpackers hostels - which offer very different experiences. 

Note that we are talking about dormitory-style youth hostels here, not the budget hotels that are called hosteles in Spanish. The Spanish for 'youth hostel' is albergue juvenil.

Backpackers Hostels Advantages

  • Cheap.
  • In the center of town.
  • Communal areas make them great places to meet people.
  • Often have quite funky deco - if you like the studenty look!

Disadvantages

  • Cleanliness can vary. Always check the feedback.
  • Can be as many as 12 or more people to a room.
  • Pitiful breakfast - toast and jam usually.

Hostelling International Youth Hostels Advantages

  • Usually very clean. Though one I stayed in had an infestation of ants.
  • Only three people to a room.
  • Usually, lots and lots of rooms, so no need to book in advance.
  • Large breakfast.

Disadvantages

  • Very difficult to book online, even if you speak Spanish.
  • No character whatsoever - they look like prison hospitals.
  • Not usually in the center of town.
  • More expensive than they ought to be.
  • No communal space to meet people.

Mid-Priced Hotels & Pensiones or Hosteles

This is probably the most common form of hotel in Spain.

They're all pretty much the same! You can expect most (but not all) to have air conditioning (check!) and the general conveniences you'll need, but without the fancy stuff that you won't. The best prices can be found by just turning up and inquiring about rooms, but for peace of mind, book in advance.

Casas Rurales

Casas Rurales are country houses that can range from a room in a modest house in the middle of nowhere to a stately manor. Prices vary accordingly. Here's an overview of casas rurales that goes into greater depth

Five-Star Luxury Hotels

If it's luxury you're after, Spain has it aplenty. Perhaps the most famous hotels in Spain are the Reina Victoria and the Ritz in Madrid and San Sebastian's Londres y de Inglaterra, though the services in the latter are not what they once were.