Where to stay in Chile
Budget accommodation in Chile varies widely, and the cheapest option isn't always the one you'd expect. In this guide you'll find information about:
Budget hotels vary widely from older options in Santiago that cost less than $50 a night to self-catered aparthotels starting from around $60. You can search for and book hotels, resorts and hostels online through sites such as wotif.com, booking.com or trivago. Compare booking sites and the hotel's website (if it has one) to find the lowest price. You can also check reviews and prices on Tripadvisor before booking to ensure you get the best experience.
Hostels are available in many parts of Chile. You can find and compare some of them online using sites such as hostelworld.com or booking.com. Hostels in Santiago can cost as little as $15 a night for a bed in a dorm or $50 for a private room. A handful of Chile's hostels are affiliated with Hostelling International and these may offer discounts for members. You can check them out and book at hihostels.com.
Residenciales, hospedajes and casas de familia
Residenciales, hospedajes and casas de familias are essentially homestays and are a common option in Chile. In a residencial or hospedaje you're likely to get a basic, sparsely furnished room either off a hallway in the main house or in a granny flat, some with private bathrooms and others shared. Some may have a TV or tea and coffee-making facilities. Casas de familias are rooms within a family home. You can find details of your options at tourism offices in Chile.
Camping and refugios
Camping is popular around Chile, particularly in national parks. Wild camping is possible in some parts of the country and has the added bonus of being free. If you're going to camp this way though, make sure you check whether it's permitted in the local area – some beaches ban camping, others allow it, and camping in national parks is generally limited to designated areas.
In national parks, campsites may be run by the forestry office Conaf or independently by third parties. Some Conaf campsites are free. Campsites generally have simple facilities – a space for your tent, basic bathrooms and minimal cooking facilities. Reservations can be made online at conaf.cl up to six months before your visit, and are mandatory for popular areas such as the Torres del Paine national park.
Some ranger stations in national parks also rent out bunk beds in shared huts, called refugios. The huts are basic, but are likely to have toilets, hot water and linen.
Fancier sites run by third parties with access to camping gear, hot showers, cooking facilities (some even offer meals), can be quite pricey, charging $50–60 per person for the basics.
You can find a list of campsites on campingchile.cl, conaf.cl, solocampings.com/chile. You can also rent caravans or motorhomes via sites such as holidayrent.cl and wickedsouthamerica.com.
Cabañas and holiday houses
Cabañas are self-catering cabins or holiday houses that are popular around Chile, particularly in beach resort areas. You can find a range of them on cabanaschile.cl and airbnb.com. For a guide to renting holiday houses in Chile, see CHOICE's Chile vacation home guide.
Top tips to save money on accommodation in Chile
- January and February are peak season in Chile, so accommodation prices tend to jump, especially in resort areas. Consider travelling outside these months to take advantage of lower prices.
- If you're travelling outside peak season, consider asking for a discount – "Me puede dar un descuento?"
- Check to see if room rates include Chile's 19% goods and services tax, called the "IVA" – "Está incluido el iva?" Foreigners are exempt from paying IVA. Ask for the foreign rate, without taxes – "precio extranjero, sin impuestos".
- Double rooms don't always have double mattresses – ask for a cama matrimonial if you'd prefer one.
- Motels in Chile aren't like the ones at home – they offer rooms by the hour, if you catch our drift.