The three most respectable...
The three most respectable hotels are the Hotel Antofagasta, the Hotel Club Carrera, and the Holiday Inn, in that order. The Holiday Inn has no restaurant, and don't count on being able to get anything to eat nearby.
For those on a strict budget the Hotel El Tatio is not a bad selection, especially if you ask for a room back from the road where it is less noisy.
Lived for months at a time in Antofagasta hotels before settling here permanently, so believe me, I know. There are some very scary experiences to be had if you get too adventuresome.
Ask for rates before using the hotel phones. I have seen charges of up to $US 2 per minute. The cheaper the hotel, the more expensive the phone.
Stores typically open from...
Stores typically open from about 9:30 to 1:00, then close until about 4:00 to 5:00 and stay open usually until about 9:00 PM. Most of them just open and close when they want to, but that's the general schedule. Sunday shopping is limited.
Don't even think about trying to find breakfast anywhere except a hotel, and even in the hotels it tends to be pitiful. (The Hotel Antofagasta is an exception). Lunch is usually served from about 12:30 to 2:30, and supper from about 8:30 to about 11:00 PM. That's right, folks... don't even dream about getting food at the usual North American supper time of 5:00 to 7:00 PM, unless you want to do so at the McDonalds (a new Antofagasta feature).
If you are driving a car, then every time you stop anywhere near downtown some fellow with a pail will come and ask if you want him to guard your car, or to wash it. Whatever you do, do not say no. He is really asking you if you would like your car vandalized, and if not to please pay him about 100 or 200 pesos, the US equivalent of about a quarter. Getting your car scoured with sandy water from his filthy pail will cost you about $US 3. Get the picture? Give the man his quarter, nothing more and nothing less. My wife paid for one guy to clean the windshield of our car while she went shopping and the guy actually used sandpaper to do so. These guys are not nuclear physicists.
Party time starts at midnight and lasts until 6:00 in the morning. It is rude to make obscene amounts of noise any time before midnight, because people may be trying to watch TV. However, midnight to dawn is fair game. (You think I'm joking. Much to my own regret, I am not).
The police are trustworthy. Do not be afraid of them, and do not do something monumentally stupid and rude like trying to bribe them. If you do then you will get what you deserve.
Expect people to be completely without manners at anything resembling a lineup. Shove, push, and be brutally selfish and rude in such circumstances. Anything else will identify you as the weak animal.
Carry toilet paper. Public restrooms, in addition to looking like the inside of a dead man's colon, tend not to have any. At 10 cents a roll it is perceived as a valuable commodity worth stealing.
People everywhere, especially kids, will ask you for money. If you are really cynical, give them all some. You cynics out there will understand why.