But it wasn't always like this. Years ago, cardinal electors stayed along the hallways of the Apostolic Palace during the conclave. The setting wasn't very comfortable, especially for older cardinals. So John Paul II called for the construction of the Casa Santa Marta, to accommodate cardinals and future guests.
The building was constructed in 1996 and it's located near St. Peter's Basilica. Usually cardinals simply walk to the Sistine Chapel before the Conclave or take a shuttle there.
The five story building has 106 suites, 22 single rooms and one apartment that stands out from the rest. The Pope himself, after being elected will stay in that unit, for a few weeks, since the Papal apartments are still sealed.
FR. FEDERICO LOMBARDI
"This apartment is a bit bigger than the other units. It's usually reserved for special guests. For example Patriarch Bartholomew stayed there.”
The Casa Santa Marta includes a Chapel, that's dedicated to the Holy Spirit. It's here that cardinals pray, as they begin the conclave and vote in the most important election of their lives.
Also, cardinals who wish to go to Confession, can do so inside the building, where regular clergy will be available, to administer Confession in different languages.