Living in a city does cause some disadvantage for a city guide like me. It is, I have almost no idea about which hotel is the best place to stay – I can tell you something about Bejiing and Guangzhou, but I never stayed in a hotel in Shanghai.
Last time, when my friends came to Shanghai, I HAD to find a place for them. Since they are traveling on their own money (v.s. business trip), I arranged them to Home Inns (如家) in Pudong. There are three major chain motel companies in Shanghai: Motel168 (my recommendation), Jin Jiang Inn (Chinese website), and Home Inns. All of them offer single room at price as low as 168 RMB (20 USD), 158 (less than 20 USD), and standard room around 268 RMB (30 USD). It is not bad for budget traveler. Although it is not as good as a star hotel, but they also offer convenient transportation, and clean room. I would highly recommend them.
My friends invited another famous journalist to join them in the hotel for one night. The other day, the poor journalist complained about the hotel he stayed – his expectation is a 5 star hotel paid by his employer. So make it clear whether low price or decent place what you want.
Hope this information is helpful.