Sleeping in Spain: A Guide to Accommodation (and 30€ Voucher Giveaway!)

If there’s one thing that’s weathering the Spanish economic downturn (no doubt tied to the weather itself), it’s the tourism industry. Accounting for nearly 11% of 2012’2 GDP, Spain constantly pushes the envelope within the tourism industry and has grown to be the second-largest in the world!

Where will you be pillow hugging tonight?

One aspect that sets Spain apart is its ample offering of accommodation and luxury brands. Iberostar, Melià and Bareclò hotels are considered some of the best brands in the world, and backpackers can find a haven nestled on cobblestone streets or just steps from a private beach. Still, in an ever-changing industry, there’s quite a bit of confusion as to each type of accommodation, and sometimes where to find it at an affordable price (don’t worry, there’s an entrance to a voucher at the end of this explanation!).

The view from the rooftop bar at Seville’s Hotel EME.

Hotels, like in any country of the world, are plentiful and of varying quality. There’s also been a recent surge of new hotels offering boutique accommodation, quirky decor and plenty of character. Spain’s tourism board has instituted a nationwide ranking, using the Q of quality and between 1 and 5 stars. Hotels are marker with a white H and the ranking below. High season is during the summer months, local festivals and Christmas time, so expected steeper prices and less availability.

The Spanish government now controls a network of historic buildings converted into luxury hotels, called paradores. From castles to convents, a night in the sumptuous lodging will typically run you more than an average hotel, but booking during the low season can ensure a one-of-a-kind experience in a historically important building.

Tiles on the outdoor terrace of the parador in Carmona, Andalusia.

Hostels and Albergues  are often considered a common type of backpacker accommodation, they are as varied as one could imagine. Typically, they can be found in city centers and offer beds in shared or private accommodation, shared bathrooms and common areas such as living rooms, rooftop terraces or kitchens. Most beds in a shared dorm are less than 20€ a night, making it an ideal place to meet other travelers through free events and walking tours.

A typical dorm room in hostels. This one is Grand Luxe in Seville.

Slightly nicer than hostels, pensions (pensiones) are more budget-friendly than hotels and are typically smaller, too. Most similar to boarding houses, one can expect loads of hospitality and often meals!

Thanks to Spain’s varied landscape, rural accommodations are becoming popular, particularly for families wishing to escape city life.

A bed at Almohalla 51, a luxury rural house in Archidona, Spain

Apartment Stays are also becoming a popular way to live like a local in larger cities. Available for days, weeks or months, a piso turístico will allow travelers the privacy of their own space while having access to amenities. Typical rates for a month can be between 500 – 800€, depending on the season.

Camping remains a cheap and popular option for staying in Spain, particularly on the coast. Rates are low, even during the summer season, and most offer on-site food and washing facilities.

No joke, I spent a night here in the Islas Cies.

I’ve been fortunate enough to stay in a tent on the pristine Playa de Rodas in Galicia, an ancient piso in front of the Basilica Santa María del Mar in Barcelona and a friendly pensión within earshot of the tingling churchbells of Santa María la Blanca in Seville. My head has rested in sumptuous hotels from Toledo to Valladolid, as well as old fortresses, which is why I’m excited to present you all with my newest giveaway.

I’m teaming up with Your Spain Hostel to offer a giveaway of a 30€ voucher to be used on Your Spain Hostel on any property in any city you’re interested in visiting in Spain. Simply enter by leaving your email address and telling me in the comments where you’d like to travel to in Spain should you win the voucher (extra points if you send a postcard!), or otherwise!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

From a bungalow on the beaches of Ibiza to a casa rural in Cangas de Onís, Your Spain Hostel is your one-stop destination for unique and quality accommodation around Spain. The site also provides discounts on tours, entrance to sites, food and even taxi pick-up! You can win extra entries by following both Your Spain Hostel and Sunshine and Siestas on Facebook and Twitter.

Happy travels for 2013! Where are you headed, and where do you like to rest your head at the end of a long day of tourism and tapas? Got any great recs?


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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living amongst pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she works in higher education at an American university in Madrid and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.


  1. Score! Nice breakdown of all the options here in Spain. It’s always seemed like there were way more, differently-labeled “options” for accomodation here vs. other lands.

    We’re already in Sevilla, so…I guess we’d take it to the coast. Maybe a couple days in Huelva or Cadiz. Or somewhere smaller. Jes!
    Ryan at Jets Like Taxis recently posted..Tradition: Serbian National Folk Dance Ensemble ‘Kolo’My Profile

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      Hi Ryan and Ang! If you’re thinking beaches, Cadiz is the way to go! I love Los Canos and Zahara, and the capital city of Cadiz is splendid. Can I join??

  2. I would loveeeee to get the chance to go to Valencia! My paternal grandparents are both from small pueblos in the Valencia province and I’ve always wanted to go search for some relatives as well as visit Valencia city as well. 30 € can go a long way!!

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      Hi Chelsea, thanks for stopping by! What sticks out most in my mind is the cool Calatrava architecture…and those loopy Borgias! Good luck!

  3. Jaclyn Blackwell says:

    Hmm, Bilbao! I haven’t been to the north yet.

  4. Thank you for the post! I returned from Madrid just a few days ago. I was fortunate to find a 10 percent discount for online booking and an additional 40 percent discount for booking four days or more in a row.

    I’d love to visit Salamanca with a 30 euro voucher.

    Geri Dreiling recently posted..Madrid’s Hotel AtlánticoMy Profile

  5. Heya! I’d like to go to Granada with my girlfriend in early February around my birthday. I’ve just moved to Spain and can’t wait to see the Alhambra! Equally are there any other fantastic sightseeing opportunities around Seville/Andalusia? Jack

  6. Nice descriptions of different options in Spain!

    Sounds like an adventure camping out by the sea and maybe a bit uncomfortable?!

    If I’m so lucky, I’d love to use the voucher in San Sebastian!
    Lauren @ roamingtheworld recently posted..Why I “chose” Vitoria- Gasteiz or How Vitoria- Gasteiz chose me!My Profile

  7. I’d love to use it in Extremadura! I’ve never been there, and I’ve heard that there are awesome Roman ruins to see in Merida and that Caceres is a pretty vibrant city. Small towns out there would also be interesting, and definitely off the beaten path for tourists! I bet the migas are amazing :-)

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      Actually an area I’m hoping to explore more, too! I’d love to get to Trujillo. Good luck, Katie!

  8. I’d go to Barcelona. It’s been “that” city for me: you know, the place you plan to go and for whatever reason, you never get to it. So, I’d finally go and hopefully catch a football game!

  9. This is a really great introduction to lodging in Spain, Cat. Although I stay exclusively in hostels/albergues, I would love to spend one night in a parador hotel, just for the heck of it! 😛 They sound so luxurious, and their settings are always the best in town (I mean, the Alhambra—nuff said).

    A free 30 € voucher sounds tempting—put my name in for Sevilla!

  10. I’m already in Cádiz so I would like to go to Valencia or the Basque Country for some great food.

  11. Jessica Alcorn says:

    I would love to go to Galicia or Asturias! I can technically say I’ve stepped on their soil but I haven’t traveled there as near as much as I want to! After seeing all your pics from La Coruna I have been dying visit!

  12. Jessica Alcorn says:

    I would love to go to Galicia or Asturias! I can technically say I’ve stepped on their soil but I haven’t traveled there as near as much as I want to. After seeing all your pics from La Coruna I have been dying visit!

  13. I would love to go to Lanzarote Or valencia, i’ve heard so many awesome things about both but haven’t been! Maybe second that on la coruna!

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      Lanzarote has been on my list for ages; I’ve just been to Gran Canaria. And Coruna/Galicia is incredible – I’ve been going every summer for the past four years!

  14. I’d like to use it somewhere in Spain I’ve never been before…Las Canarias, La Rioja…Asturias…all sound tempting!
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  15. great post as usual. i’m a huge fan of rural houses, especially since Madrid can be so stressful, just wanna escape and have someone else cook! i’m really keen on going to Asturias: green grass, coastal areas, cider…what more could I ask for!

  16. wine country is calling my name!

  17. The hostal/pensión difference used to confuse me–I´ll never forget the time I spent a weekend at someone´s HOUSE (er, pensión…) in Santander!

    I´d love to use a hotel voucher to visit Austurias–I´ve never been to Gijón or Oviedo. Or, possibly, La Rioja since my recent trip to Porto has left me with ganas to explore more wine-happy destinations.
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  18. I’ve got a little northern Spanish getaway in the works for February and am only missing one night in Gijon. Would love to cushion my budget a bit! P.S. like the new tweaks to the site layout.
    Lauren H. of Sobremesa In Spain recently posted..Where The Wild Things AreMy Profile

  19. To Sevilla or Madrid where I have some friends living!

  20. Your site always makes me want to visit Spain – but seeing the great places to stay is even better! :)
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  21. I want to go to Andalucia

  22. Sunshine and Siestas says:

    I feel like a good blogger if you’re all suggesting my favorite rincones of Spain – the North is often overlooked, but it’s magical and gorgeous and full of good cheeses and wines! And if you win and come to Seville, I’ll invite you to a cervecita or two! Good luck everyone!

  23. Great summary of lodging options, Cat! We rented a tiny house in a Pueblo Blanco in Andalucia and stayed in a boutique hotel in Seville. Both were about 30 euros/person per night and really nice. Unfortunately, we won’t be heading back to Spain anytime soon :( So I won’t enter the contest–improving the odds for others :)
    Larissa recently posted..Free things to do in FlorenceMy Profile

  24. Thanks for this review of accommodations in Spain. While I always use Couchsurfing, this can be good information to have if I can’t find a host there!
    Aleah | recently posted..Snapshot Sunday—Love Locks in EuropeMy Profile

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      Hey, A! I don’t know about other Spanish cities, but the Couchsurfing scene in Seville is really active. I used to host, and miss doing it…but would make an exception if you found yourself out this way!

  25. With that amazing 30 euro voucher, I would go up North to Pais Basco!!!

  26. I´ve not checked out any hostel in Spain so that would be fun – but where to go, so many places on my list. Possibly Seville again I love it or Toledo, Avila, Salmanca, Caceres, Trujillo …. oh how to decide.
    Rachel recently posted..Hotel Restaurante Hacienda La LagunaMy Profile

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      A girl after my own heart! I have yet to get to Trujillo and Avila, and they’re definitely on my list!

  27. I´m definitely heading to Bilbao! I´ve never been, and I loved Pais Vasco last time I was there!

  28. Been wanting to go north, so I will say…Bilbao!

  29. I would love to go to the Canaries! Tenerife or Lanzarote this spring or summer :)

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      I’m dying to get back, too. I’ve just been to Gran Canaria for a wedding and would love to see Lanzarote. Too many options!

  30. Barcelona! I would go to Barcelona!!
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  31. Thanks for this list! We’re in Spain in February and this will help a lot!
    Micki recently posted..How to Travel the World like Brad Pitt: Five Celebrity Retreats You Can AffordMy Profile

  32. Christine Seibold says:

    If I win, I would go to Ibiza, or Palma. Nice review of the different choices!

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      I’m itching to get to Palma. Did Ibiza when I studied abroad, so I can’t give you any tips. Vaya weekend!!!!

  33. Sunshine and Siestas says:

    Major thanks to all of you guys participating – Your Spain Hostel and I will be drawing a random winner this afternoon, but I can already see that Bilbao will be getting a tourist invasion! FYI, there’s a Subway in front of the Guggenheim and yes, I have eaten there (twice on the same day!)

  34. Great list of lodging options. I love staying in historical buildings and would probably enjoy a night or more in one of the Spanish paradores. Even better it it’s a castle. To me that is so appealing. We once splurged on a night in Chateau d’Hassonville in the Ardennes. It was fabulous. Rustic and rich, yet somewhat modern…and very comfortable.

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      I would LOVE to stay in a Parador! I’ve stopped for dessert in several, but it can’t compare. I once stayed in a castle in Normandy with my grandfather – incredible!!

  35. Awesome post! I will be looking at this breakdown of the types of accommodations when I’m in Spain for sure!

  36. Definitely worth my time reading. Great post and filled with useful tips and ideas for those who are much into traveling and at the same time as early to find for accommodation. We still don’t know if we will be hitting Spain the next travel destination but will share this blog to my travel buddies. Thanks mate!


  1. […] your holiday on sunny coasts or inland retreats. For a complete rundown, check out partner site Sunshine and Siestas’s guide to siestas and staying in Spain, plus enter to win a 30 euro voucher courtesy of Your Spain […]

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