What are the differences among these words?

  • dormitorio
  • recámara
  • alcoba
  • habitación

The dictionary says they all mean "bedroom"; I suspect it's a regional/dialectical thing.

What are these words used for in your country/region and which of these is the most common one for "bedroom" in your country?

Please do mention your country so I know which dialect we are talking about.

  • 3
    it's missing cuarto in Cuba we use more often habitación and cuarto, all those words have the same meaning. they are synonymous. Commented May 28, 2014 at 18:35
  • 1
    missing covacha.
    – c.p.
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 22:46
  • I don't understand why you say dialect of Spanish by nationality all countries that have Spanish as official language, speak Spanish or Castellano how it's properly called, each country has their own idioms, but it's the same language. link to Dialecto Commented May 29, 2014 at 0:57
  • @c.p. Covacha? Never heard of that word? Where is it used?
    – TheLearner
    Commented May 29, 2014 at 5:24
  • 1
    I'm sorry. It's meaning is cave, but don't use it. It's somehow derogatory for little room, but no body uses it. I added it just for fun.
    – c.p.
    Commented May 29, 2014 at 8:17

5 Answers 5


In Mexico... all 4 words are used for bedroom:

Recámara also means chamber (the part of a pistol)

Alcoba as @rodrigo says, is only used in books, novels and so on, although in some places (like hotels) you can find alcoba matrimonial referring to a wedding suite.

Dormitorio could be "dorm", a place when you find lots of beds

Habitación could be any room, just a place surrounded by 4 walls

Cuarto also means bedroom but has other meanings like "the fourth part of something" (Un cuarto the kilo - 1/4 kilo)

  • 1
    Alcoba sounds 'mamón' ;). In typical translation English to Spanish of series: "ve a tu alcoba" sounds just horrible. And so does rosquilla for donought and dentífrico for pasta de dientes. I cannot stand it. (+1 btw.)
    – c.p.
    Commented May 28, 2014 at 22:51
  • 1
    @c.p. si alguien que no fuera dentista me dijera dentífrico por pasta de dintes lo daría por loco Commented May 29, 2014 at 1:04
  • 1
    @EmilioGort :D ... yo me cuidaría pues eso significaría que no estudió odontología, sino para traductor de series.
    – c.p.
    Commented May 29, 2014 at 8:19
  • 1
    I'm from @Argentina, and agree with this. But I wouldn't say any room could be an "habitación", just those that are part of a residential building (house, hotel, etc.). In a business it sounds odd for me to name "habitación" to any room.
    – ESL
    Commented Apr 20, 2015 at 11:54

I'm from Northern Spain.

Here the most common word is habitación:

¡Vete a tu habitación! Go to your bedroom!

However, in books and on TV, cuarto is probably more often seen and heard:

¡Vete a tu cuarto!

Both are used with a possesive, thus tu habitación and tu cuarto means your bedroom or your room.

But without the possesive, they may refer to any room, so in these cases dormitorio is used:

Se vende una casa con 4 dormitorios. House sold with 4 bedrooms.

alcoba sounds archaic. It can be used for rhetoric, poetic turns of phrase, or humoristic effect, except when it refers metaphorically to a marriage (or some similar relationship status in which a bed is shared), particularly in the idiom:

Problemas de alcoba. Marriage issues.

recámara is almost never used.

  • Cuando voy al cuarto de baño no uso ningún posesivo.
    – Jdamian
    Commented Jul 6, 2020 at 18:25
  • @Jdamian Eso mismo indica la respuesta en "But without the possesive, they may refer to any room"
    – Brian H.
    Commented Oct 28, 2020 at 14:28

Here in Chile we say pieza or dormitorio. Almost never habitación, and never, never alcoba, cuarto or recámara.


They may all have exactly the same meaning, they do not all have the same context.

Cuarto - Quarters. Living quarters. It's a very ancient term in English, but it still lingers in the spanish language.

Recámara, to me, makes me think of a hotel room, or a room for rent.

Alcoba, I have never heard, but judging from the others' attempt to translate it, I find it to mean nothing more than a room. Not a bedroom in particular, but rather just a room.

Aula is something I know has classroom.

Habituación sounds like a very proper, fancy way to refer to a bedroom; I can see why it would be used in Spain.

Dormitorio is exactly what you would think it is, a dormitory. In English, the word dormitory or domicile are very proper names for a bedroom.

So again, even though they all mean the same thing, they deserve their contexts.


I'm from Argentina and we say pieza to mean "bedroom".


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