There’s a great variety of accommodation in Spain, ranging from humble family-run pensions to five-star luxury hotels, often in dramatic historic buildings. The mainstay of the coastal resort is the typical beachfront holiday hotel, though renting an apartment or a villa gives you more freedom, while farm stays, village B&Bs, rural guesthouses and mountain inns are all increasingly popular possibilities.
Accommodation in Spain is pretty good value. In almost any town, you’ll be able to get a no-frills double room in a pensión or small hotel for around 50 EUR, sometimes even less, especially out in the sticks. As a rule, you can expect to pay from 100 EUR for something with a bit of boutique styling, and from 150–200 EUR for five-star hotels, historic paradores and luxury beachfront resorts. However, the trend is bucked by Madrid and Barcelona, in particular, and some fashionable coastal and resort areas, where rooms are often appreciably more expensive in all categories. Always book in advance!
Housesitting is another option for saving money in Spain. Housesitting is exactly what it sounds like – you’ll take care of somebody’s house for free while they’re away, usually while looking after their pets, too. This option is going to be best for long-term travellers or retirees as you can’t pick and choose dates and destinations, so need to have flexibility over where you go and when. If you do have that freedom, it’s a wonderful way to cut down your travel expenses, soak up some home comforts, look after some adorable animals, and live like a local for a while. Trusted Housesitters is one of the best sites for getting started with housesitting.
In Spain, you’ll come across hostels all over the country, from the big cities to the small villages to beachside hideaways. They’re one of your best options for saving money, and aren’t just for the backpackers. Hostels in Spain are much cheaper than equivalents elsewhere in Western Europe, with the big exception being Barcelona over the summer, but even then, it’s still nowhere near outrageous. You can expect to spend around 10-15 EUR for a dorm bed in most spots in Spain, with the price increasing to around 25 EUR a night on the beaches and more tourist-filled areas.
When it comes to private rooms in hostels, you can expect to spend around 45 EUR a night for a clean, basic room in a good location, so if you’re travelling with friends or a partner, you may find it cheaper to grab some privacy over settling for two beds in a dorm room. If you’re an older traveller and put off by the thought of nights spent in hostels, you shouldn’t be! Private rooms are usually very quiet and clean, and most hostels are modern, safe, and centrally located. They tend to have a little more personality than generic hotels, and the staff are fantastic at offering kickass travel advice.
Airbnb is another option you might want to keep in mind, as staying in a private room with a local on Airbnb can often work out to be as affordable as a night in a hostel. You’ll be looking at around 25-30 EUR a night for a private room on Airbnb and 50 EUR a night for the entire apartment.
Of course, there are always hotels, which will usually start at around 40 EUR a night. You’ll have slightly more luxury and comfort in hotels, so it’s up to you to work out whether this is worth the additional expense.
Guesthouses and hotels in Spain go under various anachronistic names – pensión, fonda, residencia, hostal, etc – though only hotels and pensiones are recognized as official categories. These are all star-rated (hotels, one- to five-star; pensiones, one- or two-star), but the rating is not necessarily a guide to cost or ambience.
At the budget end of the scale are pensiones, fondas – which traditionally had a restaurant or dining room attached – and casas de huéspedes, literally an old-fashioned “guesthouse”. In all such places you can expect straightforward rooms, often with shared bathroom facilities (there’s usually a washbasin in the room), while occasionally things like heating, furniture (other than bed, chair and desk) and even external windows might be too much to hope for. On the other hand, some old-fashioned pensiones are lovingly cared for and very good value, while others have gone for a contemporary, boutique style.
Spain has over ninety superior hotels in a class of their own, called paradores, which are often spectacular lodgings converted from castles, monasteries and other Spanish monuments (although some are purpose-built). They can be really special places to stay, sited in the most beautiful parts of the country, or in some of the most historic cities, and prices are very good when compared with the five-star hotels with which they compete. Overnight rates depend on location and popularity, and start at around 110 EUR a night, though 150–180 EUR is more typical.
There are literally hundreds of authorized campsites in Spain, mostly on the coast and in holiday areas. They work out at about 5 or 6 EUR per person plus the same again for a tent, and a similar amount for each car or caravan. The best-located sites, or the ones with top-range facilities (restaurant, swimming pool, bar, supermarket), are significantly more expensive. If you plan to camp extensively, buy the annual Guía de Campings, which you can find in large bookshops, or visit this website. In most cases, camping outside campsites is legal – but there are certain restrictions. You’re not allowed to camp “in urban areas, areas prohibited for military or touristic reasons, or within 1km of an official campsite”. What this means in practice is that you can’t camp on the beach, while in national parks camping is only allowed in officially designated areas.