Budget hotels in India have a wide range of quality, price and comfort. You may get lucky with older hotels that have retained a colonial vibe and cheerful staff, while others seem to be on the brink of collapse at any moment.
Use this guide to book the best accommodations and what to expect outside of the expensive luxury hotel chains.
- Learn more about choosing the perfect accommodation in Asia.
Cheap hotel booking in India
Many budget hotels only offer the best effort to make reservations by email or by phone, as they do not know when other guests will be leaving. Call the day before your arrival to make sure your room is ready and you have a backup just in case.
Booking through a third party site is the best way to guarantee a reservation. Unless you’re traveling during one of the popular Indian festivals or staying at a top-notch hotel, book just the first night in advance rather than the length of your stay. You can always extend a stay if you like the hotel, however getting a refund for a reservation is next to impossible.
Sometimes you’ll find great deals on private rooms at backpacker hostels:
Some tips for choosing a room
- Ignore the assault from hotel salespeople waiting for you to hit the bus and train stations. These offers work for a commission, which is added to your nightly rate, or they will want to take you to an unfamiliar hotel away from the main street.
- Road noise and excessive use of horns is a real problem in India. If possible, avoid rooms that face the street.
- Most of the older budget hotels have many different rooms of different sizes and qualities. Ask to see a couple of rooms before taking the first one they show you.
- If you intend to stay for several days, you can negotiate a better room rate, especially during the low season. See tips for negotiating prices.
- Uncarpeted rooms are often the best option in older hotels. The carpet is rarely cleaned and can smell musky or hide pests. Read about how to avoid bed bugs while traveling.
- Some hotels will offer a surprisingly low rate in the hope that they can sell it for tours, safaris, or activities in the area. Use your judgment if a hotel is unexpectedly cheaper than others in the neighborhood.
Protection and security
Rooms that lock from the outside are the best; you can bring your own small lock for added security instead of using the one provided by the front desk.
Close your windows and balcony doors before going out at night. Even if the staff and other guests are trustworthy, some places, even in Delhi, have trouble with curious monkeys that may come in to take a look.
Budget hotels and their attached rooftop restaurants generally have only young men. Women traveling alone should consider staying elsewhere if they are the only guests.
- See more India travel tips for added safety.
Check into a room
Prepare for 15 minutes of bureaucracy when checking into a room. Copies of your passport and Indian visa will be made; You are expected to fill out a large book at the front desk and possibly additional forms to keep everything legit.
Tax, service and payment
When prompted for a room rate, confirm that the price includes taxes and other additional charges. The government requires a luxury tax on rooms above a certain nightly rate, and a ‘service’ charge can be added if you don’t book your transportation or hotel tours.
- See more about tips in India.
If you are asked to pay for the first night in advance, get an evidence receipt in case you are charged for the night again when you go out.
Credit cards are accepted in very few budget hotels in India, so keep cash on hand. You may have been charged an additional fee to pay with plastic. See more about the use of money in Asia.
In addition to the cheapest of the cheapest, most budget hotels in India have western-style baths instead of squat baths. Some have excessive plumbing; expect a bewildering array of knowledge, pipes, and spigots sticking out of the walls
Hot water is often provided by a smaller hot water heater in the toilet or hidden within the walls. You will need to turn on the power at least 30 minutes before planning to shower. The circuit breaker can be on the toilet, right outside your door, or even outside your bedroom.
Ask about hot water when you check in. Some places have a centralized tank that needs to be kept warm, which means there may be no hot water after a certain time at night.
Power in India is 230 volts at 50 Hz with the round European style plugs. All electrical outlets will have a switch next to it. Power outages and unexpected blackouts are common; Be careful when charging laptops and phones, as generators can cause a surge in line when turned on.
- See more India travel essentials to survive.
- Read on how to protect your phone and laptop while in India.
Advertised Wi-Fi doesn’t always mean it’s working, even if reception promises it’ll work tomorrow, and seeing an active signal doesn’t guarantee connectivity. Wi-Fi can only work in the reception or rooftop restaurant due to the typical thick stone walls.
Opening Wi-Fi signals without password protection can be an attempt to steal your logins to sell to spammers later. See more about cyber café security.
Many budget hotels in India close their doors or gates at night when staff go to bed, sometimes as early as 10 pm If you plan to check out late, it is a good idea to let the reception know before you leave.
Many great hotels have lousy rooftop restaurants and vice versa. Don’t fall under the pressure of eating only where you stay, the place across the street could have a much better meal.
Always confirm your departure time with the reception; Departure times in India can vary from 10 am to noon. You may be allowed to store your luggage at the hotel until your overnight transportation, however you must bring your money, passport, and valuables.