Given Santiago's mélange of architectural styles and socioeconomic levels, where you stay could very well shape your opinion of the city. The cheapest accommodations are in the downtown area, el centro, and this is the obvious choice if proximity to museums and historical attractions is important to you. However, el centro is noisily congested with people and traffic during weekdays, and it is altogether a grittier neighborhood, with many buildings weathered by age and neglect. Still, there's a lot of character found in this part of town, and the Lastarría/Parque Forestal neighborhood, located nearby on the east side of Cerro Santa Lucía, is simply lovely.
Some travelers enjoy the upscale ambience of Las Condes, while others find it to be too antiseptic and devoid of local color, in addition to being a longer (although direct) Metro ride to downtown (around 15-20 min.). Providencia is a happy medium between the two, with leafy streets, restaurants, and shops. Energetic types can also reach downtown on foot heading directly east along Avenida Providencia (around 45 min.). Remember that it is a snap to get around town via the Metro, no matter where you stay. Nearly all hotels with 100-plus rooms are international chain hotels; the concept of boutique hotels or B&Bs has not taken off here as it has in many other major cities, but there are a few solid choices for hotels with a more intimate ambience.
Parking at Santiago hotels is free unless otherwise indicated below. High and low seasons differ from hotel to hotel (if they do indeed adhere to price changes), and are individually noted in each review.