By Urte Zableckas
After spending some time hopping around Asia’s abundant guesthouses, it was with slightly elevated expectations that I arrived on the other side of the world. Alas, in the way of budget accommodation, South America was a bit more complicated to figure out. What’s more, it turned out to be a book-ahead-or-suffer kind of a place; be warned, showing up in Buenos Aires without any preparation can land you in some very dodgy places…
Indeed, it is for these very reasons that a list of charming budget digs was called for – I would be amazed if you didn’t find some well-deserved R&R at any one of these places.
La Bicyclette | Valparaiso, Chile
La Bicyclette is simply so lovely – just a perfect, quiet place. This little bed and breakfast, which is located on one of the steepest streets I have ever seen, is owned by a French/Chilean couple, and reflects this global feel in both style and atmosphere. Even on first view, the hotel is genuinely home-like, which makes it quite charming. Once inside, the petite size (only four or five rooms), European-style bathroom (with a grand clawfoot tub), and pretty patio make for a cozy stay. Though they don’t have extensive amenities, La Bicyclette is off the beaten path and wonderful for those wanting a little change from the typical hostel or hotel. Also, the nearby Cerro Conception is one of the prettiest promenades in the city, and provides an idea of just how vertical Valparaiso really is (read: very).
Hostal de los Poetas | Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay
I felt a happy connection to this boutique hotel, which delivers the ideal atmosphere for people who crave some gentle calm. It’s a bit far from the historic old town, but that means that it’s just a short saunter from the coast and the most delicious street food stall in all of Colonia, located just across from the southernmost stretch of sandy beach. The breakfast hall is like a big glass veranda, and the entire building is connected via European-style outdoor hallways that burst with greenery. Gardens are tucked in the corners. I’m not sure if it really was a poet’s house, but it would certainly appear that way – the library-like sitting room does the trick. Overall, Hostal de los Poetas is a beautiful, peaceful, and relaxed place to call home while enjoying perfect Colonia.
Torre al Sur | Ushuaia, Argentina
Ushuaia is one of the most beautiful locations an adventurer could ask for, but quite expensive as a result. Luckily, Torre al Sur can help ease some of this, as it offers the cheapest and, in my opinion, some of the best, accommodation in town. The communal feel here is top notch, and the crowd is mellow and cheery; most everyone cooks dinner and eats it together in the bright, sunlit living room, which is fitted with electric blue furniture and enormous windows.
The views of the Ushuaia harbor are magnificent, and this blue mansion sits above most of the bustle, but just a stroll away.
Colonial House Inn | Arequipa, Peru
Despite the simple (and windowless) rooms, Colonial House Inn has many perks to boast of. Perhaps this bed and breakfast’s greatest charm is that one can have a tasty, elaborate rooftop breakfast overlooking The Santa Catalina Convent, a vast cloister (or miniature city) that is comprised of numerous churches and labyrinthine lanes. There are also two soothing internal courtyards and a terrace garden – there’s nothing quite like walking out of your room and being met by a collection of bright, blooming flowers. Most staff did not speak English, but they were very hospitable and welcoming.
BA Stop | Buenos Aires, Argentina
This was one of the most reasonably priced options in Buenos Aires and a pleasant surprise after our horrifying first experience with lodging in BA. The staff was really, really great here. One receptionist would continuously go out of her way to make sure we had a good experience by recommending places popular among locals, helping plan itineraries, and setting us up with reservations. Both of their private rooms are large and bright, with French doors for windows. They do, however, face the street, so it can be a bit noisy at night. BA Stop also offers a central location, close proximity to the metro, and excellent computer/Wi-Fi access.
Portal de las Vinas | Cafayate, Argentina
After stumbling into this lovely hotel, we were talked into staying by the cute owner, who agreed to lower the price in exchange for nixing breakfast service. It was a bit more than we budgeted, but the luxury was impossible to turn down, especially after seeing the peaceful, grandiose rooms and surroundings. Because the owner lives in another decade altogether, the place feels antiquey and warm. She offers full access to the kitchen and supplies dishes if you bring home snacks or wine. Providing shade for the airy internal courtyard was the largest grapevine that I had ever laid eyes on. Our French doors opened regally to the scene, where I spent often spent hours journaling and reading. No dorms.
Casa Roja | Santiago, Chile
Located near hipster-filled Plaza Brasil, Casa Roja is a renovated mansion turned enormous hostel. The place boasts several courtyards, an outdoor swimming pool (though the alleged jacuzzi is not heated), and delicious breakfasts. The rooms are all quite comfortable and elegant, with high ceilings and lots of light. Despite the size of the place, there is plenty of communal room, everything is spotless, and I never once had to wait for a shower. Additionally, the staff was a good source of information, and there is even a travel office on site.
Have you been to South America?
Where did you stay? What cheap hostels and hotels would you recommend? Post your recommendations below.