So far Elizabeth and I have avoided paying more than $20 a night in anywhere that we've stayed in Nicaragua. The expectations are obviously a bit lower here in Nicaragua (no hot showers etc) but you really can't beat the value, here's the rundown of each of the private rooms that we stayed in:
El Chelero Hostel, Granada ($12 shared bathroom $18 private bath/night): great value, especially when you consider the lack of cheap eats in Granada. Pros: Central location, nice and helpful staff. Cons: A bit dingy and with the bare, I mean bare minimum of things you'd expect at a hostel (sometimes you have to take a bucket shower, if you don't know what that is, you probably won't like Nicaragua)
Santa Cruz Hostel, Ometepe Island ($16/night for cabin w/ private bath): This was an awesome find, we had initially set out for Little Morgan's, which had fantastic reviews, but was unfortunately full when we arrived. Pros: Cheap bike rental & breakfast and nice rooms. Cannot stress how awesome the staff was, the hostel itself really nicely laid out as well. Cons: none really.
Joxis Hotel, San Juan Del Sur ($18/night w/private bath) We've naturally bargained on all of our lodging options but San Juan showed us the most price inflation of anywhere in the country. What started off as $26 a night we got down to 18 after promising not to use the AC. Pros: nice top balcony, good location, Cons: a bit dirty, overpriced food and some rowdy guests that had late night prositutes (yes hotel staff, you SHOULD control that).
Lazy Bones Hostel, León ($20/night with shared bath) Again, not only our first, but second options were full when we arrived. Lazy bones was a nice alternative and with the best mattresses we've had the pleasure of sleeping on. Pros: Real swimming pool to beat the León heat, cheap breakfast and the cleanest hostel we've been in. Also had amazing cheap BBQ down the street for only 45 Cordobas. Cons: a little pricey, especially for the 3 privates where you have to walk 100 yards and down a spiral staircase for the bathroom, staff had attitude as well. The first private we had was right next to a bathroom, luck of the draw I guess.
I'm back at Chelero in Granada right now, I should also add that they were nice enough to hang on to our larger bags while we traveled the country two weeks.