Orisson is legendary for the rudeness of it’s owner, the difficulty of the booking system, and the outrageous prices of the food and accommodation (compared to other places along the way) – but you won’t wake up to a more magnificent view anywhere else along the way.
The other very important point to note about Orisson is that it breaks up the hike over the Pyrenees, making an almost impossible challenge eminently achievable for many Camino hikers.
The refugio has a lovely cafe/bar/restaurant and several different rooms – two relatively large rooms with 10-16 people, several smaller rooms with 6 beds, a shed with a double bed (the honeymoon suite!) and a gite about 200m down the road that can also be rented for a larger group.
The bathrooms and showers are some of the least equipped on the Camino. Several toilets have no seats, there is no hot water in the sinks and the showers take tokens that allow only 5 minutes of water (not exactly hot water either!). While I was there one of the drains seemed to be plugged resulting in a large pool of water filling the entire women’s bathroom! There is laundry available, but with only one washer and one dryer, there is often a long queue to get it all finished.
There is a wonderful dinner (three courses – soup, chicken and canned veg, and rice pudding) where each person introduces themselves, where they are from and why they are doing the Camino. Diners tend to linger and over many glasses of wine “Camino families” are started.
The next morning you’ll get a paltry few pieces of bread butter and jam, a bowl of terrible coffee and a glass of orange juice from concentrate. Hardly enough to get you over the mountains. For a few euros you can buy a sandwich – a few meat/cheese choices – with a stingy amount of filling. BRING EXTRA FOOD from St. JeanPP for the big day over the pyrenees.
So, is it worth it? Absolutely! I’ve loved staying at Orisson. Once you get the trick down with booking (email them directly – not through the website, pay the Paypal invoice *immediately* and confirm before you arrive), ignore the attitude (chalk it up to ‘the french’), and prepare yourself for basic accommodations, you’ll be absolutely fine. Wake up at dawn to a fantastic view of the mountains, make lots of friends over wine and perfect your ear-plug placement for the snorers!