No one thinks of Shanghai as a backpacker's paradise, but whether you're just passing through, in need of a semi-permanent residence, or need to put visiting guests up, there are a number of affordable pillows to rest your noggin and some of them are actually quite nice. Listed below are reasonably priced lodgings located near or on the Bund, in the less hectic Jing'An area and as far west as Hongqiao.
Captain Hostel (The Bund)
A Shanghai institution, the Captain Hostel offers some serious bang for your Bund. This ship-themed residence, be-speckled with buoys and portholes, is mildly gimmicky but unusually clean for a hostel. At the bottom rung are the Sailor Bunks, which house up to eight seafarers on four bunk beds for a mere 70rmb a night. If you choose these bunks be prepared to share the (clean) bathroom facilities with your shipmates on the entire floor. The Bunks themselves sparkle with maritime spotlessness, and are accessorized with glass-topped card tables with sand and rocks inside. First class cabins on the top floor have a great view and private bathroom but are otherwise Spartan and cost a whopping 1,200rmb. Also housed in the building is the rooftop Sunshine Bar, perhaps the least expensive watering hole on the Bund, and a Shanghai hidden gem. Drinks are about half the standard price and come with an outdoor deck facing the Pudong skyscrapers for that wind-blown nautical feel. The lobby also has a breakfast room and business center where an hour of Internet cost 20rmb.
Motel 168 (Hongqiao)
Although there are many locations around town (and a slew of Motel 268s as well), the Wuzhong Lu location of Motel 168 is near the Hongqiao airport. Originally named for the low price of its standard rooms, Motel 168 has raised rock bottom just a bit in recent times to 188rmb. For standard rooms you have a choice of a big bed that leaves no room for walking, or two twins (the better choice). Bathrooms are clean and the rooms are clean enough although all smell like an ashtray. The lobby offers a few vending machines as well as a Chinese restaurant, the Merrylin Cafeteria, which boasts beachside décor, flat screen televisions, and a plethora of entrees all for less than 30rmb. This is a great option if you have an early morning flight out of Hongqiao.
Salo Homes (Jing'An)
Salo Homes is a variety of fully furnished temporary residences established in 2007 and scattered about the Jing'An temple area. Paul Salo and Marion Wu, the founder and manager of Salo Homes, offer a host of personal services that make the residence ideal for getting to know the city and for anyone making the transition to living in Shanghai. Salo Homes' other services include free maids, Chinese cooking classes, a 24-hour concierge service in English, Mandarin and Japanese, a visa consulting service, childcare, and Chinese lessons. American and Chinese owned, here's Paul Salo on the concept: "Maybe someone's mother only eats vegetarian food, or his dad only wont leave the States unless he's got a magic show lined up. Whatever they want, we can find it for them." At 130-380rmb/night, these temporary residences are actually affordable and a one minute walk to both the Jing'An Metro station and Burger King. Salo Homes is a great option also to put up visiting guests who need to be looked after when you're at work for the day.
Mingtown (The Bund)
Hovering by Beijing Xi Lu, right in the midst of it all is a little hostel called Mingtown where the prices are right and the ambiance is flush with Chinese flavor. The standard deal is two to a room. High ceilings, private bathrooms, and immaculate white bedclothes ensure that at 70rmb a night, these beds go fast. Kitchenettes on every floor. Mingtown is a place to socialize; the buzzing lobby includes a small bar, computers, wireless Internet, and a pool table. Backpackers are strewn about the couches and appear comfortable and happy. The clerks are very nice but monolingual. They are happy to look after your belongings during the day if you would like to leave them behind the desk. Small items fit in tidy cubbies; larger items are stored in a tremendous heap on the floor with everyone else's stuff.