St Jean Pied de Port Pilgrim Accommodation : 10 Albergues, Hostels and Hotels
Created by Colleen Sims * 1 November 2023
Pilgrim Accommodation in St Jean Pied de Port
St Jean Pied de Port is a charming medieval town in the French Basque country in South West France. With narrow cobbled streets, half-timbered houses and lively atmosphere, St Jean is the perfect place to begin your Camino.
As the starting point of the Camino Frances, thousands of pilgrims arrive each year to begin their journey to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. And almost every one of those pilgrims will need somewhere to sleep.
Thankfully the town has a wide range of accommodation to suit all budgets, including pilgrim albergues, hostels, hotels and apartments.
Do Book Ahead in St Jean Pied de Port
If you plan to arrive in St Jean Pied de Port and start your Camino from there, then I strongly recommend that you spend at least one night in town and I strongly recommend that you reserve your bed in advance. St Jean is a popular tourist destination and if you’re travelling during the busy season (May-September) then accommodation will fill quickly.
It is not unknown for St Jean Pied de Port to be full. We were there a few months ago (in September 2023) and some pilgrims spent the night on the Fire Station floor; so book ahead!
Top Tip : If you find yourself without a bed then head to the Pilgrim Office in Rue de Citadelle; they may be able to offer assistance.
Albergue, Hostel, Gite or Auberge : What’s the Difference in this Type of Accommodation
There is a host of accommodation available in St Jean Pied de Port, including albergues, hostels, hotels, apartments, gites and campsites. But what’s the difference between these terms?
Albergue or Refugio
These are Spanish names and given to pilgrim hostels along the Camino de Santiago. In France these would be called a Refuge or an Auberge. They offer simple, comfortable pilgrim accommodation and offer excellent value for money.
A municipal albergue maybe considered more simple than their private counterpart, but many pilgrims feel that they are more authentic. I’m not sure I agree with this, sometimes maybe, but not always. One of my worst pilgrim nights ever was in a modern, cold, damp, soulless municipal albergue that has thankfully long since closed!
Some private albergue offer both bunk-beds in dormitories and sometimes a few private rooms. Usually there will be communal bathrooms, mixed-gender bedrooms, a kitchen and an area where you can wash your clothes.
Auberge or Refuge
These are simply the French equivalent of an albergue, refugio or hostel. They offer the same services but in France the name is different.
In France, an auberge can also be an inn or bar/restaurant and doesn’t always offer accommodation. In our village, the restaurant is called Auberge de Commerce but it’s days of offering accommodation ended long ago.
A hostel is simply the anglicised way of saying albergue or auberge. There is one difference worth considering. Hostels are similar to a pilgrim albergue but sometimes they are not exclusively for pilgrims.
Pilgrim accommodation usually has a ‘lights-out’ policy at 10pm but hostels may have open doors at any time. This can be an issue if you’re planning an early start and folks are still awake and talking at midnight.
I have stayed in some amazing hostels; like Quartier Leon Jabalquinto in Leon (stay there if you’re in Leon!). It’s not exclusively a pilgrim albergue, but nonetheless fabulous.
If you’re choosing a hostel then it’s worth checking the facilities and house rules if you think this could be a problem.
Gite is another French word. It is more often associated with self catering holiday accommodation and often a rural house. However, a number of the pilgrim accommodation in St Jean call themselves a Gite; they are aimed at pilgrims and do offer pilgrim services.
Albergues in St Jean Pied de Port
There are many pilgrim hostels (albergues, auberge or gites) in St Jean Pied de Port. For this post, I’m listing those that I know, so my list is not exhaustive; just personal.
Municipal Pilgrim Albergue : Ospitalia Refuge
There is a pilgrim hostel in St Jean Pied de Port. Located just a few metres away from the Pilgrim Office, this traditional pilgrim’s accommodation is open year round. You cannot reserve beds but there are several bunk beds available, spread over different rooms. Be warned that in peak season this accommodation is always full.
Address: 55 Rue de la Citadelle, 64220, St Jean Pied de Port (just up the road from the Pilgrim Office)
Telephone: +33 (0)6 17 10 31 89
Private Hostels in St Jean Pied de Port
When I travel with my groups and walking club, it’s really important to find accommodation that will impress and put the group at ease. I look for cleanliness, comfort, suitability for pilgrims and character. There are three hostels that I’ve stayed in which fabulously meet this criteria and have served my groups well.
Gite Beilari : Such a stunning little hostel, it feels like someone’s home rather than an auberge. The owners are from St Jean and have created a little oasis that oozes the spirit of the Camino. They say that it’s not the number of pilgrims that they welcome but the practice of giving refuge and offering hospitality… to bring people together around their table for a great dinner who, at least for one night, become a family. What more could you ask for on the Camino?
Gite de la Porte Saint Jacques : This glorious hostel is more like a pilgrim retreat and perfect for an extended stay in St Jean. It offers single beds and bunk beds, it’s beautifully appointed, designed and made for pilgrims and will charm you from the minute you walk in the door!
Gite ULTREIA : This is another fabulous hostel. There is a large room for 7 with it’s own bathroom and single beds (no bunks!) and they also offer a private ensuite bedroom and a room for 4. There’s also a great little kitchen and lovely terrace and the communal breakfast is delightful.
MY THREE FAVOURITE PILGRIM ALBERGUE
Hotels in St Jean Pied de Port
Many of the pilgrim hostels in St Jean also offer private rooms but for those seeking a little extra comfort, there are a few hotels too that I’d recommend.
Top Tip : I’m providing you links to booking.com but try as I may it doesn’t always open the page of the property I’m recommending. If this happens to you, simply scroll down the listing page to find the property I’ve mentioned. Or go back and click the link a second time as this often works. They’re worth the search!
Les Chemins d’Elika : This glorious accommodation is almost a hybrid of a small hotel and the best kind of hostel. There is a beautiful garden with wonderful views, free WiFi and a terrace. As well as your own private room, you have the use of a shared kitchen. All rooms include a kettle (I love a kettle!) and of course a private bathroom.
Hotel Les Pyrenees : This former coaching inn is a few minutes walk from the centre of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Now a 4-star hotel, it offers all the comfort you need; ensuite bedrooms (complete with bathrobes and slippers), an outdoor swimming pool and an on-site restaurant. If you’re looking for a hotel to get over your jetlag then this is a good choice.
Errecaldia House : Just a couple minutes from the old town, Errecaldia house is the perfect Basque home away from home. Stay here to relax, recharge your batteries and pause before starting your Camino. The house dates from 1673 and is on the doorstop of the citadel. The owners almost will you to have a great stay and they go out of their way to make you feel welcome. There are only a handful of rooms here so book early to avoid disappointment.
MY THREE FAVOURITE HOTELS
Camping in St Jean Pied de Port
There is a municipal campsite in St Jean Pied de Port : Camping Municipal Plaza Berri. The campsite offers a variety of pitches, including tent pitches, caravan pitches, and spaces for campervans and is open from April to October.
Apartments in St Jean Pied de Port
We’ve visited St Jean Pied de Port previously just for a weekend and not as part of a Camino. When we’re travelling we often prefer to stay in an apartment and so I’ve included a few in my list that I would recommend and book again and again.
Studio Real Camino: What can we say about this pretty house. It is quirky and perhaps more of a cross between an apartment and hotel? It’s well appointed but not too fancy and the kitchen is more of a kitchenette and it’s absolutely perfect for a few days. There is a lovely private terrace, a quiet corner to sit and relax and you can enjoy a really great breakfast before you start your hike. If you want a place to stay for a few days then this is the perfect spot!
Villa Esposenda : Villa Esposenda can be either a hotel or an apartment but the one bedroom apartment is a favourite of ours. It’s in a great location, just a few steps away from the old town and with views of the ramparts or Irouleguy vineyards and mountains. It’s a perfect space for a few days or longer and ideal for groups sharing.
Résidence Pierre & Vacances : I wasn’t sure about including this apartment but we did stay here and we had a lovely comfortable visit. It’s a traditional holiday apartment and offered us all that we needed for a long weekend. We visited in October so the pool was closed and the complex was very quiet; it might be busier in the peak season. It’s a little bit of a walk from the centre but we quite enjoyed that; we even discovered a few artisan shops that were aimed at locals rather than tourists. I’d certainly stay here again and it’s great for a short or long stay.
MY THREE FAVOURITE APARTMENTS
How Many Days Do You Need in St Jean Pied de Port?
I always recommend at least one night in St Jean Pied de Port but if you can spare the time then spend two. If you’ve had a long journey or a long-haul flight then the extra night will give you the rest you need and will help you prepare for the challenging first stage, crossing the Pyrenees. And there is so much to see and do that you will easily fill your time exploring.
However long you decide to stay in St Jean, please do take my advice and book your bed in advance.
Starting Your Camino from St Jean Pied de Port?
If you’re planning to walk the Camino De Santiago you may find these posts useful too :
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Whenever you travel overseas it’s imperative to travel with a good travel and medical insurance policy. None of us expect anything bad to happen, but in the event of an incident, you want to be sure that your insurance will be there for you.
I’ve had the mis-fortune to end up in hospital in Peru, Indonesia, Portugal and Ireland; every time my insurance took care of everything. We all hope and expect to complete our Camino without incident but I would never leave home without full and comprehensive insurance.
Globelink : We have used and recommended Globelink for years and we’ve not heard of any issues. They are a great choice for European and UK Residents.
TrueTraveller : We have this policy now for an extended global trip and we are very happy with the cover, especially considering our ages and pre-existing conditions
Safety Wing : Many of my travelling buddies from the USA have recommended this company to me, although we’ve not used them personally.