In central Jinan, the Home Inn, one of a Chinese chain, has rooms starting at about $26. My room was bright, clean and modern with free wifi, a double bed and spic and span bathrooms.
I didn’t make a reservation, there was a bit of a kerfluffle when I arrived asking for a room. The staff didn’t speak English well, they were not sure what to do with me. They could understand my assertions that we could get this done, we could figure out how to take my cash for their room. And in the end, I was right.
The only problem I had was some of the other guests were really noisy late at night.