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World Travel Guide > Guides > South America > Chile

Where to stay in Chile

Hotels

Several luxury hotel chains have set up shop in Santiago and there are also various boutique hotels that meet exacting Western standards in the capital. Advance bookings are essential in resort areas during the high season. The cost of accommodation in Santiago is higher than in the provinces, with rates increasing during the summer holidays from January to March, particularly in coastal resorts.

Members of foreign motoring organisations can often obtain discounts at hotels by joining the Automóvil Club de Chile. A tax of 19% is levied on all hotel bills, except those paid in foreign currencies by visitors, for which an export bill is required.

Grading: Hotels in Chile are graded from 5 (luxurious rooms) to 2 stars (basic commodities).

Camping

There are plenty of campsites throughout Chile, especially down south in Patagonia. Be sure to take proper equipment and bear in mind you should always aim to leave no trace when you move on. Some locals will happily allow visitors to set up camp in their garden or land upon polite request. Official camping sites can often be expensive.

Other accomodation

There are several hostels throughout Chile and on Easter Island. Membership of the Asociación Chilena de Albergues Turísticos Juveniles (a youth hostel association affiliated with Hostelling International) is required; many hostels are extremely crowded and it is advisable to book in advance where possible.

Backpacker hostels continue to crop up like mushrooms throughout the country, thanks to the increase in numbers of younger tourists travelling to Chile, and these usually offer friendly and cheap accommodation. Standards vary widely, from the bare basics to luxury hostels for the well-heeled.

Residenciales are a cheap and popular type of accommodation, often consisting of a few rooms in the home of a local resident.

Cabañas (holiday chalets) are found in coastal resorts and in several mountain resorts; some are self-catering. They range from luxurious to basic.

In the national parks, refugios (basic sheltered accommodation) offer beds for a low price. Check with the regional forestry office Conaf (www.conaf.cl) in advance. Although it isn't fully developed in the sense that there is one website to access all accommodation facilities, agrotourism in Chile is slowly coming in to its own. From a mud hut in the Mapuche Indian Marin Aillapi reserve to the purpose-built lakeside Kumelen lodge 90km (56 miles) from the nearest town of Osorno and the working farm Fundo Chacaipulli in the Lake District, the options are there - it's simply a matter of digging about for them.