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Do albergues have blankets? My personal experience from Camino de Santiago

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Many people are tempted to pack super-light for the Camino. After all you’ll sleep every day inside (or at least you hope to :)), so why carry a towel, or a sleeping bag? These things take a lot of space in the backpack, and perhaps you do not need them, especially if you do the Camino in summer, with heat and everything. As long as there is a blanket in the albergue, you should be fine. But do albergues on Camino de Santiago have blankets?

A quick answer to this question is some do, and some do not. I will try to explain it more in detail on the following lines, helping you to decide whether or not you need a sleeping bag, and perhaps what places should you aim for sleeping if you decide to go without one. Keep in mind though that you can still pack under 5 kilos, even with a sleeping bag–check my ultralight Camino packing list to see how, and perhaps not need to bother whether or not you won’t be cold at night in the albergue. I also recommend a few great sleeping bag liners that weight close to nothing and you can get them for below $20 in our article on best sleeping bags for the camino. You can check that one too.

 

Public albergues (pilgrim hostels run by local municipalities) do not offer blankets

If you do the Camino on budget and want to stay primarily in the least expensive places, you’ll spend many night in the so-called “public albergues”, places run by municipality. You can get a night for 5-10 euro easily, but as they often rightly say, you get what you pay for. While most of these places will offer bed sheets (not all though), and have a simple pillow on the bed, in 9 out of 10 cases there won’t be any blankets, or there will be one or two (in questionable condition).

Now, exception always proves the rule, or you may be lucky and get the only blanket that is in the place. But I would not rely on it if I was you, because the last thing you want to experience is a sleepless night on the Camino due to cold (much worse than sleepless night due to snoring). Sure, if you are good looking and adventurous you can try jumping into someone else’s sleeping bag in the night, but the success here isn’t guaranteed either :). To sum it up: if you want to save money and plan to stay in public albergues, you should take a sleeping bag, since in nine out of ten cases there won’t be any blankets.

– A typical low-key albergue on Via de la Plata – bunk beds, old soft mattresses and no blankets, but basically everything a tired pilgrim needs, as long as they carry their own sleeping bag ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Parochial albergues (run by Church or related organization) are hit or miss, not only with blankets

I love to stay in these albergues while on the Camino, though they are the hardest to predict, when it comes to equipment and facilities. Some of the most wonderful pilgrim hostels I stayed at during my many pilgrimages were run by the church, but I also had a completely different experience. I was sent away from half-empty place, spent a night in an albergue with one toilet for fifty people, or in a one where everything was broken and the hospitalero did his best to negate all principles from the Bible with his attitude to pilgrims…

Anyway, when it comes to blankets, these places are really a hit-and-miss. You can find super-cozy blankets from Merino wool, or twenty blankets for ten beds, or even blanket on top of every bed. But you can also find bare beds with mattresses that remember thousands of nights and you sink in like an egg, and there is a smell and you know the bed wasn’t cleaned in many months, and blanket is just a distant dream :). The best advice I can give you is to call to the place in advance and inquire about blankets (if you plan to stay there without a sleeping bad), or perhaps check reviews of the place on a website like Gronze (some pilgrims may comment on the blanket situation).

If you find any information on this page incorrect or outdated, or have a suggestion how to improve it for fellow pilgrims, please let us know. Thank you for helping the pilgrim community, and buen Camino ๐Ÿ™‚

– Donativo albergue in Benduenos (Camino San Salvador), run by charming hospitalera Sandra. The place is under the wings of church (and in a building belonging to church), but as you can see it has everything and then some ๐Ÿ™‚

 

Virtually all private albergues offer blankets for pilgrims

In the past you had only public albergues, churches, and firefighter station where you could sleep as a pilgrim. With the growth of the popularity of Spanish pilgrimages, however, the infrastructure has developed great deal, and many privately-owned albergues dot the more popular Caminos (Frances, Norte, Portuguese).

The price for a night is typically higher, but in my experience almost all these places have a blanket for each pilgrim. You can pay from 10 to 20 euros for a night (which still isn’t bad in my view), and unless the price for a private albergue is below 10 euro/night, it is almost guaranteed you will get a blanket (should you need one).

Many of these places also have websites, or at least online profile on Facebook or other social network, and there you can see pictures of the place, and see whether there are blankets or not. What’s more, reservation is recommended (or obligatory) in almost all private albergues, and while calling them you can always confirm that they have blankets. Some higher-class private albergues actually have duvets as well, and are better equipped than hotels :).

 

You can always improvise if you find yourself without a blanket for the night

Unless you travel with a super-minimalist equipment, caring virtually nothing, you can typically improvise in an emergency situation without a blanket. Of course, the most obvious thing is asking other pilgrims for help, and the hospitalero, and in many cases you will figure something out, or a blanket will appear out of nowhere.

Another option is using something from your equipment as a blanket–it can be a jacket, a dress you have in your backpack, or any other fitting item. You may find something in the albergue as well–for example items other pilgrims left there, but make sure to consult with the staff whether or not you can use it for this purpose…

 

Final thoughts on blankets in the albergues

I personally do not recommend doing Camino without a sleeping bag, relying on blankets. It just adds unnecessary stress to your pilgrimage. Modern sleeping bags are not that heavy, and I believe the extra 0.5-1 kilo is well worth it. If you decide to rely on blankets though, the key is to choose the right type of accommodation (private albergues, hotels, etc), as I have described above, or call each place in advance and make sure you won’t freeze in the night :). Hope it helps, and I wish you a wonderful Camino!

Matej

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