Budget accommodations, as cheap as US$5 per person but generally costing around US$10, go by a variety of names that may disguise their quality—they can vary from dingy fleabags with sagging mattresses to simple but cheerful and tidy places with firm new beds. Some even have parking, except in densely built areas such as central Santiago.
Among the budget lodgings are hospedajes (generally family-run accommodations with a few spare rooms), pensiones, and casas de huéspedes, terms that are virtually interchangeable. All may have long-term residents as well as overnight guests. Residenciales are generally constructed with short-stay accommodations in mind but may also have semipermanent inhabitants. Generally a step up, an hostería often refers to a country hotel with a restaurant. All these places may even use the term hotel, though usually that belongs to a more formal category.
That said, there are also some exceptional values in all categories. Many places will have shared bath and toilet (baño general or baño compartido), or offer a choice between shared and private bath baño privado; bathtubs are rare. In some cases, they will have ceiling fans and even cable TV, but they may charge extra for cable and almost always do so for air-conditioning.
Budget travelers should consider bringing their own towels and, if traveling in the colder regions, perhaps even their own sleeping bags. Many accommodations but by no means all include breakfast in their rates; ask to be certain.
A handful of low-priced accommodations may lack hot water. Rarely, hot water will come from an electric in-line heater that’s capable of rendering a startling shock to unsuspecting users—never touch the fixture or the shower head while water’s flowing. Generally, these showers work best with relatively low flows; as the flow increases, heating the volume of water becomes more difficult.