on May 1, 2013
As I could not get sufficient time to do the Camino Frances from St Jean the whole way to Santiago de Compostella, Leon was an easy point to split it in to stages. I decided a hotel night was a good idea after alot of travelling and to prepare before setting off on foot. I decided on this hotel because it is in part of a monastery and I felt it would be a fitting start to a pilgrimage. So after arriving at the train station from Madrid I headed over the bridge. Thankfully I knew roughly were I was going as there are few signs pointing out even the main sites such as the cathedral and San Isidoro. But even having ready someone else's comment about how to find this hotel, it was not that easy. Yes it is called San Isidoro- the entrance is around the back from the basilica in the same courtyard as the musuem. But there are few signs to the hotel, so from the courtyard with the musuem signs you then go into a cloister. The door is at the far end, but to get in you need to press the bell as the door is locked- and the bell is a small button at the side of the door but it is not obvious. Reception is then through another door.The reception staff were friendly and efficient in check-in. I got in the lift. I got a little confused- the room key number and the number on the door differed by exactly 100. Also the room numbers were difficult to see as above the doors.The room itself was fairly small but sufficient. Clean sheets, desk and desk lamp and 2 wooden chairs and a small wardrobe. The bathroom was clean (but strong smell of cleaner when I arrived) with a nice shower and sachets of toiletries. Huge thick walls and windows with net sheer curtains in beige but also shutters. The only thing on the wall was a cross above the bed. However the TV was not working. The light over the bed was also hanging off the wall. There was also damage to one of the light switches by the bed.The hotel is in part of the monastery but it is a very strange layout and I got a little confused in the hotel part of it. It took a while to get my bearings of where stairs were, lifts, rooms, reception, breakfast room.Breakfast started at 8am, late if you are a pilgrim wanting to get moving for the day. The breakfast room was not well marked, and I had to go to reception to ask for it. But there was plenty of food-the usual sort of stuff one gets in a spanish hotel- meat, cheese, tortilla, yoghurt, fruit, toast, cake, juice and coffee. The hotel is in an excellent location but it is not a luxury choice. It is more atmospheric. It seems they have tried to balance being a hotel and its monastic history. I liked it for that. The rooms were simple, the beige colours made it very muted and the style was a little more austere than most hotel rooms.But the corridors were filled with interesting furniture and pictures on the walls to create a sense of period and style.But they need some more basic maintenance going on-too much was not right in my room.- though I did encounter the hotel's handyman running around the building. The other problem is noise witl hin the hotel- wooden floors do tend to carry noise a little too much between rooms and from the corridor.It all depends what you want from a hotel. Location is great but it is not luxury. It fitted what I wanted but others may find it lacking if they were in Leon for a few days to enjoy the city. It still has a little touch of monastic austerity in a hotel. Beautiful setting though with a cloister with a fountain with four frogs! Me- good location to explore Leon on foot, right on the camino, quiet, good nights sleep. As I am planning another stage on the camino to finish at Leon, I would stay again here. But if I was here for a fun weekend away I think I would try a hotel that at least had a bar and a little more life than atmospheric.
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