During the early years of the pilgrimage’s revival (in the eighties), the present-day network of pilgrim hostels did not exist. Walkers were therefore put up in parishes, public places and municipal buildings. The appearance of Voluntary “Hospitaleros” in the nineties, thanks to the Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the Way of St. James, provided ad honorem personnel for the buildings that local authorities and other institutions were beginning to fit out, in order to cater to pilgrims free of charge. This resulted in the revival of the old medieval “hospitalero” –almost always an experienced pilgrim- who maintains the installations and runs the hostel.
Starting from the 1993 Holy Year, there was a sharp increase in the number of institutional and private hostels. Thus, the free hostels were joined by others requiring a fixed fee or donation, in order to cover cleaning expenses, maintenance and services. This fee currently ranges from 3 to 6 euros.
Naturally, hostels do not accept bookings but provide accommodation on a first come, first served basis, giving priority to walkers, the disabled, horse riders and cyclists, in this order. Cyclists should therefore head for larger-capacity hostels. All hostel guests are required to respect the corresponding internal rules, opening hours, hygiene, let others rest and contribute to a spirit of peaceful coexistence.
An alternative to hostels is private hotel accommodation, which is preferred by organised groups when they are numerous or when they want to enjoy a break along the way to visit monuments or rest.