Accommodation will most likely constitute your main expense when traveling. Although most hotels and hostels have their own websites and nothing could be simpler than booking a night’s stay, I decided to write about accommodation in Israel for the following reasons:
- Every city and region has its own logic. When choosing a hotel in Jerusalem, you will need to take into account different factors to those you would consider when choosing a hotel in Tel Aviv. You will find some points to consider below.
- You can learn a lot about your options from review-driven travel websites. The reviews are helpful in the sense that they are honest, but a traveler who writes about a hotel he stayed in has had only one of many possible experiences. Maybe his was good and maybe his was bad, but he certainly didn’t know all the hotels in Jerusalem and it could be that there was a better option. As a tour guide I know many of the hotels and can better estimate what kind of hotel is suitable for travelers.
- Online booking websites look after their own interests. Hotel owners have to pay them to get on the site and then they pay more to rank more highly. Many hotels pay up to 20% of the order value as commission! Some places, especially the more unique spots, refuse to play the game, and therefore you don’t come across a lot of information about them. Try, for example, to find information about the places I wrote about in special guesthouses in Jerusalem.
Disclosure: I get a small commission if you book a hotel through my website (and I appreciate it if you do). It allows me to add more free, interesting information about Israel to my site. How can you know that I won’t promote just any hotel that promises to pay me? You can’t; you will have to trust me! I invest a lot of time and energy into making this site and my booklets as good as I can. I wouldn’t compromise my name for a free night in a hotel or a few more shekels.
- On online booking sites you have many options. Pop-up windows tell you that a friend of a friend (who you don’t even know) went to that hotel, another flashes up that three other people are about to order rooms in that hotel, another informs you that a different hotel is offering a 30% discount on exactly the weekend you are looking at (and the weekend before and after…). In my experience, travelers want to keep it simple – what are the 3 top hostels in Jerusalem? The 4 best boutique hotels in Tel Aviv? And accordingly this is how I have written my recommendations.
Accommodation in Tel Aviv
One of the most important things to take into consideration before booking a hotel in Tel Aviv is how close you want to be to the beach. If you want to come straight down from your room to the beach, book a room in one of the hotels on the promenade – Yarkon St or Herbert Samuel St. There are also business hotels closer to the business center and the highway and trains. In recent years, more and more boutique hotels have sprung up in the city’s nicer neighborhoods.
Accommodation in Jerusalem
There are a lot of hotels in Jerusalem; most of them don’t feature on my list because, as a tour guide, my main consideration has to be the location – the center of the city. I narrowed down hotel options to ensure they are all within walking distance of the old city and the city center.
Accommodation in the Judaean Desert and the Dead Sea
Just as in Tel Aviv, you need to decide how close you want to be to the shore. If you want to relax, float in the sea and use the spa, I recommend the seafront hotels. There are two different areas for hotels – Neve Zohar (the village Neve Zohar itself lies two kilometers to the south) and Ein Bokek. The areas lie 7km apart on the southern part of the Dead Sea. While the hotels in both places are good, I think they miss opportunities. The hotels and local council have failed to understand the potential of the area. Instead of creating a visitor-friendly environment amid the hotels, they have left undeveloped what is essentially a wasteland. Each hotel stands alone. The only people moving through the open spaces and working hard are the inspectors issuing parking tickets. Be aware: Parking next to blue-and-white-striped sidewalks costs money. Parking tickets are issued more speedily here than in Tel Aviv.
For those who don’t want to be next to the shore, there are accommodation opportunities in Masada, Ein Gedi and two small villages a few kilometers south of the Dead Sea – Neve Zohar (village) and Neot Hakikar.
Accommodation in the Galilee
There is plenty of accommodation in the Galilee. The two most important factors to take into account are whether you have a car and whether you prefer to sleep in a city or a village. Travelers who don’t have a car will find it time-consuming to access villages. Those who prefer city hotels can choose between differently priced hotels and hostels in Haifa, Akko, Nahariya, Nazareth, Tiberias and Safed. Those opting for more out-of-the-way accommodation can stay in cabins (zimmerim in Hebrew) in villages and kibbutzim. I will be writing about them next month.
Accommodation in the Negev
Although there are fewer accommodation possibilities in the Negev, there is plenty of variety, from sleeping under the stars to luxury hotels. In the Arabah (or Aravah), the area from the Dead Sea to Eilat, there are many special villages that also offer accommodation. In Eilat, Israel’s southernmost city, on the coast of the Red Sea, there are a lot of hotels. I will be writing about them next month.