In most cities and towns throughout Chile, you will usually find a broad range of accommodations choices. Low-cost hostel options start at $15/£10 per night while a budget hotel room will cost between $20 and $40 (£13-£27) per night. There are several great-value gems (which I have listed in the guide), but for the most part medieval dimensions and a paucity of services are the rule. Midrange hotels start at around $75/£50 and offer a more salubrious aura, dapper service, and plusher rooms. Expensive and luxury hotels will set you back at least $150/£100 per night and include some of the finest hotels on the continent, the Ritz, Hyatt, and explora groups being the flag bearers for sheer indulgence. A new wave of charming adobe-style lodges and decadent spas also provides a perfect fusion of style and substance.
It is imperative that you consider Chile's high season when planning your trip, as prices are sky-high and reservations are hard to come by without advance planning. High season runs from December 15 to the end of February, Easter week, and for 2 weeks around the middle of July, and hotels in tourist regions may extend their high season to include November and March. Some hotels drop their prices by as much as 50% in the off season. Hotel price ranges listed in this guidebook reflect low to high season rates.
The prices listed in this guide are also rack rates -- that is, a hotel's standard or advertised rate. Don't be shy about negotiating a discount with a hotel. Owners are accustomed to paying a 20% commission to tour operators, so they will often consider dropping the price slightly during the off-season (or for multiday stays). Alternately, check a hotel's website or simply ask if there is a promotion or package deal being offered that you're not aware of. Remember that if you pay in Chilean pesos for a room that's quoted in U.S. dollars, you'll often have to pay an IVA tax. Sometimes euros may also be accepted, but don't expect to be able to pay in any other foreign currency.
A sales tactic that is creeping its way into the cheap hotelier's lingo is the "bed-and-breakfast," but don't buy it. The term is redundant because every hotel, with the exception of the dirt-cheap hostel, includes breakfast in its price. Expect a continental breakfast at inexpensive and moderately priced hotels and an "American" or buffet breakfast at larger, high-end hotels.
Note: Air-conditioning is not necessarily a given in many hotels throughout the country. In general, this is not a problem. Cooler nights and a well-placed ceiling fan are often more than enough to keep things pleasant.
House-swapping is becoming a more popular and viable means of travel; you stay in their place, they stay in yours, and you both get an authentic and personal view of the area, the opposite of the escapist retreat that many hotels offer. Try HomeLink International (Homelink.org), the largest and oldest home-swapping organization, founded in 1952, with over 11,000 listings worldwide ($75 for a yearly membership). HomeExchange.org ($49.95 for 6,000 listings) and InterVac.com ($68.88 for over 10,000 listings) are also reliable. Many travelers find great housing swaps on Craigslist (www.craigslist.org), too, though the offerings cannot be vetted or vouched for. Swap at your own risk.
Apart-Hotel -- This amalgam is exactly what it implies: an "apartment-hotel," or a hotel room with an additional living area and kitchen. Found primarily in Santiago and other large cities, they offer a wider range of services than a cabaña. Some are bargains for their price and come with maid service. However, some are nothing more than a hotel room with a kitchenette tucked into a random corner.
Cabañas -- Cabañas are a versatile lodging option. They are commonly found in resort areas and are popular with families and travelers seeking an independent unit. They resemble cabins or chalets and range from bare-bones to deluxe, although all come with fully equipped kitchens, and most have maid service.
Hostería -- An hostería is a guesthouse or hotel attended by its owner, typically found in a country setting.
Residenciales & Hostels -- These lodging options are for budget travelers. Residenciales are private homes whose owners rent out rooms, and they range from simple, clean rooms with a private or shared bathroom to ugly spaces with creepy bathrooms. In towns that see more tourists, a hostel can be a hip and very comfortable place run by foreigners or Chileans, typically from Santiago. Some hostels are private homes that use their living area as a common area, and some of them can be very comfortable.
Refugios -- Refugios, which are common in Patagonia, are remote and rustic lodges that are similar to cabins. They are wonderful places to mix and mingle with fellow trekkers, and allow you to hike without a heavy pack loaded with a tent. Still, you'll want to bring your own sleeping bag, and book your bunk at refugios months ahead of time to secure your spot.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.