4 Hotels Under $25: Cheap, Yet So Amazing You Won’t Want to Leave!

Posted by on Dec 11, 2010 in Guest Posts, Sandbox Reviews, Uncategorized | 22 comments

This is a guest post from Michael at Darn Good Digs, where you can find amazing budget accommodation at equally amazing prices. Thank you Michael, for being a guest poster here at Budget Travelers Sandbox.

Sometimes the less you pay, the more you get when traveling.  Places like Mayoka Village on Lake Malawi or Le Rendez-Vous in Southern Ecuador prove the point.  These are the kinds of dirt cheap hotels where you might intend to spend a night, but end up changing your plans to stay for weeks – simply because the rooms are so inviting, the food so delicious, and the vibe just right.  At Darn Good Digs, we are excited to share four of our favorite under $25 hotels from our extensive online guide to the world’s best independent hotels for budget-minded travelers:

Mustapha’s Place is a quirky and funky hotel set in leafy gardens, just two minutes away from a stunning tropical beach on Zanzibar island with powdery white sand and turquoise ocean. The nine guest cottages, with telling names like the Treetop Room and Swiss Banda, are made from local materials such as makuti thatch and coral rock and are decorated with African fabrics and murals by local artists. The chef specializes in Zanzibari dishes and Swahili seafood such as plantains in coconut milk and octopus stew, as well as vegetarian meals using fresh produce and island spices. The bar serves up local beers and cocktails, and a simple breakfast of fresh fruit, toast, and eggs, along with coffee or tea, is included.
Prices start at US$15.



Le Rendez-Vous, situated in a beautiful valley surrounded by the Andes Mountains, is a guest house on a quiet street just a few blocks from the main square of Vilcabamba, a small town in southern Ecuador. Several rooms surround a tropical garden with views of the red rocks and mountains in the distance, and all rooms have small patios with a table, chairs, and hammock, perfect for reading and writing. The fourteen rooms are simply designed, but well outfitted with new mattresses, European-style sheets, great showers with plenty of hot water, and thick towels. The hotel’s garden, planted with banana and avocado trees, sugarcane, ferns, and tropical flowers, is lovingly cared for by the owners. Breakfast includes freshly baked bread with homemade jams, eggs, fruit salad, and good, strong coffee.

Prices start at US$9.


Mayoka Village sits right on the shores of Lake Malawi and the views are amazing. Room options include traditional mud huts and the more newly built stone cottages with private bathrooms and stone bath tubs. All accommodations at Mayoka Village are built using traditional Malawian materials, such as bamboo, stone, mud, and thatch, and are spread out on a rocky hillside by the lake. The outdoor bar and restaurant serve great food using fresh, local ingredients and offer plenty of choices for vegetarians. Gary and Katherine, Mayoka’s friendly owners, host huge weekly barbecues and Malawian buffets that often merge into all-out dance parties, with local musicians providing the entertainment.

Prices start at US$6.


The Soppong River Inn is located in Soppong, a small Thai village in the mountainous Mae Hong Son province near the Burmese border. The rooms and cottages are different styles, but all are made using traditional materials such as teak and bamboo, and all take their cues from traditional and modern Thai architecture. All rooms have cotton sheets and towels, en-suite bathrooms, and hot water. Some of the rooms have balconies overlooking the river, gardens, and rainforest. The Inn’s restaurant serves a choice of Thai or Western-style meals, and has both indoor seating and an outside deck perched above the river.

Prices start at US$23.


If you’re intrigued by these digs, then you’ll definitely want to check out Darn Good Digs to read about hundreds more extraordinary independent hotels for budget-minded travelers.


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  1. These are amazing deals. I think I should add Darn Good Digs to my list of resources.

    • Catherine, it’s a great resource. Travelers nominate properties, but they are only added once they are totally researched. I can’t wait to try the property in Northern Thailand this winter.

  2. I didn’t know it was possible!!!

  3. i love Mayoka Village. That was one of my favourite hostel stays around the world. We camped there for $1 a night. We were getting ready to leave and Gary, the owner, convinced us to stay for yet another couple of nights. He gave us one of the bungalows on the point for the same price as the tent- that kind of sealed the deal for us!

    • Wow! How could you not stay!

    • Please nominate any of your other favorites on Darn Good Digs too. That’s how we uncover places like Mayoka – travelers nominate places, we research them, and add the best of the best to DGD. Our guide wouldn’t exist without our nomination process.

  4. John, anything is possible 🙂

  5. LOVE this post – great work at Darn Good Digs for uncovering these special places 🙂

  6. Ecuador is already on my list for the near future — and I’ve always wanted to go to Zanzibar! Thanks for this interesting post. I´ll be keeping a note of these places, for sure…

    • I think I need to get to Ecuador sometime soon as well. I’ve been reading such great things about it.

  7. right up my alley! thanks for turning me on to some new budget greats! definitely agree that “sometimes the less you pay, the more you get” as it often brings you closer to locals- which is something to both benefit from (knowledge!) and feel good about (putting your tourist dollars in local hands). great stuff 🙂

    • Definitely Lorna! Some of the most beautiful places we can visit are the poorest, so it’s wonderful to put money directly into the community by “staying” local.

  8. Amazing for what you can get for less than $25, plus these all have so much character, which I love!

  9. Really nice collection of cheap flops. Something every backpacker should know about

  10. Great post!

  11. 4 Hotels Under $25: Cheap, Yet So Amazing You Won’t Want to Leave!

  12. Currently staying at $25 room too in Roatan, Honduras. It’s its own hut with indoor bathroom and hammock in the terrace. What else? Fridge, and patio plastic chairs and table. And oh, mosquito net!

  13. budget accommodation in Asia and Africa is so amazing. All these places are charming, two, John point I only stay in places like that when I’m not Couchsurfing on my world travels 🙂

    – Maria Alexandra

  14. please delete my previous message–it had some bad typos! 😉

    budget accommodation in Asia and Africa is so amazing. All these places are charming, too!

    I only stay in guesthouses/B&B’s like these when I’m not Couchsurfing on my world travels. They are so much better than the cement, soulless chain hotels..

    – Maria Alexandra


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