Hostal del Maule (2 Sur 1381, tel. 071/220995, US$13/22 s/d–US$26 s or d) is one of Talca’s better bargains, but rates do not include breakfast.
Hostal del Río (1 Sur 411, tel. 071/225448, www.hostaldelrio.co.cl , US$22/33 s/d–US$39 s or d) enjoys a quiet location on a dead-end street where the only steady noise is the flow of the Estero Piduco, a Río Claro tributary. The higher rates correspond to suites with private baths.
Slightly more expensive rooms with private baths are a better value at basic Hotel Royal (6 Oriente 1250, tel./fax 071/231806, US$19/37–23/43 s/d). Hotel Cordillera (2 Sur 1360, tel. 071/221817, US$30/34 s/d–US$47 s or d) has simple rooms with shared bath and others with private baths and cable TV.
Alongside Hostal del Río, all rooms have private baths at Hostal del Puente (1 Sur 407, tel. 071/220930, hostaldelpuente [at] adsl [dot] tie [dot] cl, US$25/44 s/d with breakfast). The amiable English-speaking management is a bonus.
More expensive, but not that much better than Hostal del Río, are Hotel Nápoli (2 Sur 1314, tel. 071/227373, US$33/50 s/d with breakfast and private bath) and Hotel Terranova (1 Sur 1026, tel. 071/239608, hotelterranova [at] entelchile [dot] net, US$53/61 s/d, also with breakfast).
On the west side of the Plaza de Armas, aging Hotel Plaza (1 Poniente 1141, tel. 071/226150, US$52/62 s/d with breakfast) is still stylish. Hotel Marcos Gamero (1 Oriente 1070, tel. 071/223388, www.marcosgamero.cl , US$52/66 s/d), though, is definitely a step up.
One block west of the plaza, the contemporary Hotel Terrabella (1 Sur 641, tel./fax 071/226555, US$72/86 s/d) has spacious wooded grounds and a swimming pool.