Estelí ’s least expensive lodging is on the south side of town by the Parque Infantíl. Hospedaje Chepito (one block south of the park, tel. 505/2713-6388, $4) is a favorite with the backpacker set, with passable rooms and shared cold-water bath.
A better choice is Hospedaje Sacuanjoche (2.5 blocks south of ENITEL, tel. 505/2713-2862), a family-run and peaceful lodging.
A bit closer to the action, Hospedaje Familiar (half a block north of Super Las Segovias next to the Tip Top distributor, tel. 505/2713-3666, $10–13) is run by Edith Valenzuela Lopez, a tried-and-true Sandinista with more than 33 years of hosting internacionalistas; rooms have private bath and TV.
Hostel Luna (one block east and one block north of the cathedral, tel. 505/8441-8466, www.cafeluzyluna.com ) is run by British expat Jane Boyd, offering dorm beds for $10 and private rooms for $20. Breakfast is served at Cafe Luz across the street where you can hang in the garden hammocks. Jane is a valuable source of knowledge on activities in the area and can help arrange anything from a trip to Miraflor , a cigar factory tour , or a walking mural tour with a local guide.
The eight rooms at Hotel El Mesón (one block north of the cathedral, tel. 505/2713-2655, $23–27) have private bath and fan (a few with a/c); this place is quiet and clean, and the hot water makes January mornings a lot more bearable. They have parking, a bar and restaurant, a garden, a travel agency, car rental, and will change travelers checks.
Not far away, Hotel Moderno (one block east of the park and two south, tel. 505/2713-2378, $30) consists of 11 rooms—all with private bath, hot water, TV, and fan—surrounding a shaded courtyard, conference room, bar, and restaurant.
The gorgeous Hotel Los Arcos/Café Vuela Vuela (one block north of the cathedral, $40–75) is run by a Spanish development organization in a charming colonial edifice. All profits go toward development activities like their schools, continuing education programs, and street children.
If you’re more interested in a relaxing evening than a night in town, Hotel Cualitlán (from COTRAN Sur, two blocks south, four east, and one north, tel. 505/2713-2446, $50) is a walled-in guesthouse compound unlike any other in Estelí . It has a verdant sitting area with a tree-canopy roof, soothing music, and a creative menu geared to the international traveler. Choose one of several delightfully appointed cabanas—something like Swiss chalets—set around the lush tropical courtyard, all with hot water and cable TV. They have two rooms that can house up to six for $20 per person, all with breakfast included.
All of the Spanish schools  have networks of families accustomed to housing foreigners for a weekly or monthly rate. Doña Edith at the Hospedaje Familiar offers extended room-and-board deals, starting at $150 a month. Centro Cultural Juventus (tel. 505/2713-3756) can offer housing for visiting students or those in language school . For house and apartment rentals, call Bienes Raices Gomez (tel. 505/2713-3835).