Here's my take on the budget hotels on the island. Just my opinion; your mileage may vary.
Belize First www.belizefirst.com
(listed north to south)
* * Hotel Del Rio, Boca Del Rio Drive, tel./fax 501-26-2286; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ambergriscaye.com/hoteldelrio/index.html.
At this small seafront operation, you have the choice of a big cabaña, a small cabaña, less-expensive rooms in a Mexican-style building and even more modest rooms in a guesthouse. This is not a fancy resort, and there’s no air-conditioning, but this spot has personality some other places lack. In-season doubles are US$45 to $95, off-season US$40 to $85, plus tax. About a 10-minute walk to town. Bottom line: Worth considering if you’re watching your pennies and want a bit of thatch ambiance.
* + Conch Shell, Barrier Reef Drive, P.O. Box 43, San Pedro; tel. 501-26-2062; e-mail email@example.com; AmbergrisCaye.com/conchshell/index.html. This center-of-town, water-front two-story hotel, with its wood-frame construction, ceiling fans and linoleum floors, is a good option for travelers who just want a clean, simple place to stay. Rates around US$54 double October to April, US$30 the rest of the year, including tax (but plus a 7% service charge). Bottom line: One of the better budget choices in town.
* * Lili’s Hotel, Barrier Reef Drive, San Pedro; tel. 501-26-2059, fax 26-2623; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; www.ambergriscaye.com/lilys/index.html.
This family-run budget favorite has been around for more than 30 years, recently going upmarket a bit with air-conditioning and some remodeling. Regulars prefer the seafront rooms. Those on the second-floor have breezy verandahs with sea views, while the first-floor rooms are for the gregarious who like to gab with passersby. Rooms are smallish and simple, but all have fridges and comfortable beds. Doubles US$55 to $65 off-season, US$65 to $75 in-season. Bottom line: An old favorite budget hotel has gotten better, though a bit more expensive.
* San Pedrano, Barrier Reef Drive, San Pedro; tel. 501-26-2054, fax 26-2093. Six-room budget spot near the water. Bottom line: For the budget-minded.
* Martha's, Pescador Drive and Ambergris Street, P.O. Box 27, San Pedro; tel. 501-26-2053, fax 26-2589; e-mail email@example.com; www.AmbergrisCaye.com/marthas/index.html.
In the middle of town, not on the water, but a good budget choice with 12 clean rooms in a three-story wood building. No air conditioning and no phones in rooms. Rates US$27.50 double off-season, US$35 in-season, including tax. Monthly rates available off-season. Bottom line: Definitely stretches your lodging dollar.
* * + Spindrift, Barrier Reef Drive, San Pedro; tel. 800-688-0161 or 501-26-2174, fax 26-2251; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; www.AmbergrisCaye.com/spindrift/index.html.
This dominating three-story concrete hotel won’t win any awards from Architectural Digest, but it is on the water in the center of town, with 22 rooms and 2 one-bedroom apartments. All but the cheapest rooms have air-conditioning. Caliente restaurant is on the first floor, and the hotel hosts the "famous chicken drop" at which drinkers bet on where a chicken will poop. Doubles US$48 to $83, apartments US$110, all plus tax and 5% service. Bottom-line: In-town convenience and a good place if you like chickens.
* + Coral Beach Hotel and Dive Club, P.O. Box 16, San Pedro; tel. 501-26-2013, fax 26-2864; e-mail email@example.com; www.coralbeachhotel.com.
The 19 rooms at this long-established in-town spot, located across Barrier Reef Drive from the sea, are small and basic, but all have fans and some have air-conditioning. It is owned by locals Alan and Helen Forman. Long known for its focus on diving, the focus is a bit less so since the sinking of the owners’ boat, the Offshore Express, at Lighthouse Reef in 2001. Rates US$45 double with fan, US$65 with A/C, year-round, plus tax and 8% service. Bottom line: Another choice for the budget-minded.
* * Rubie's (also known as Ruby's), Barrier Reef Drive, P.O. Box 56, San Pedro, tel. 501-26-2063, fax 26-2434, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; www.AmbergrisCaye.com/rubys/index.html.
This is the favorite of many value-conscious visitors. Rooms in the old wooden building are basic but clean, most with shared baths; those on the street side can be a little noisy. Year-round rates: older rooms with fans, US$15 to $30 double plus tax (cheaper rooms have share baths); rooms in a new concrete addition on the ocean side sport A/C and private baths and go for around US$48 plus tax, but still an excellent value. Good inexpensive breakfasts and light meals in the first-floor restaurant. It's often full. Bottom line: One of the island's best values.
* * Hideaway Sports Lodge, Coconut Drive, P.O. Box 43, San Pedro; tel. 501-26-2141, fax 26-2269; e-mail email@example.com; www.hideawaysportslodge.com.
This 17-room hotel is about one-half mile south of town in the same area as the Belize Yacht Club and Changes in Latitudes, and across the road from the beach. Texan-owned, the Hideaway is hard to hide, as it’s painted a bright yellow with green trim. It’s for travelers looking for value and needing just a simple room not on the water. Some units have A/C, but most have fans only. Inexpensive restaurant serves authentic Tex-Mex vittles like chicken-fried steak and burritos. A bonus is the very nice pool. Rates (in this case they include tax) off-season US$45 to $85, in-season US$55-90. Group rates start at US$40 a day per person including meals. Bottom line: Simple rooms with extras like a pool.