You’ll find a wide range of accommodations in Israel, ranging from hotels to kibbutz vacation guesthouses to great hostels and self-catering apartments.
There has been no official hotel rating system or hotel star system in Israel for more than 20 years, so ignore the star ratings hotels give themselves. We’ve included our own star ratings in this book, from 1 to 3 stars, based on recent, personal visits.
A Note About the Seasons
Israel’s hotels fill up during certain seasons and holidays, and you should be prepared with advanced reservations, secured by a deposit. Generally speaking, hotels are busiest during July and August, and on the major Jewish and Christian holidays. Rates skyrocket during these times, and rooms can be very scarce if you don’t book well in advance.
Off-season is generally November through February (except for Chanukah/Christmas/New Year’s). It is, however, a busy season in Eilat, which has almost perfect, sunny weather when it’s chilly up north.
KIBBUTZ PACKAGES -- The Kibbutz Hotels network is especially enticing. It lets you explore the real Israeli countryside while overnighting at comfortable kibbutz hotels, holiday villages, and less-pricey guesthouses and country accommodations that have swimming pools or beaches, and invariably lovely and often very dramatic settings. There are amazingly well-priced 7-night deals, which include a double room, breakfast, and a rental car (with unlimited mileage).
Although all accommodations in the kibbutz hotel and holiday village network are the equivalent of those you’d find in midrange hotels, you’ll find great variety in the general setup and character of each facility. The kibbutz system also includes many less expensive Kibbutz Country Lodgings, a growing network of smaller kibbutz and moshav communities that run simple guest buildings, or kibbutz families who have guest-room facilities in their homes. Rates for Country Lodgings average $170 per night for a double room with a private bathroom. Best of all, you get a chance to see a bit of real kibbutz life. For further information go to www.kibbutz.co.il.
Independent Bed & Breakfasts & “Zimmers” -- Hundreds of rural accommodations in private homes, ranging from simple to luxurious, are available for tourists today. For a listing of good choices, go to the Ministry of Tourism web site: www.goisrael.com/Tourism_Eng/Articles/Accommodations/Pages/Rural Tourism - Zimmers.aspx.
The Good Morning Jerusalem bed-and-breakfast and holiday apartment rental office (www.accommodation.co.il) has a catalog of 130 rental apartments throughout Israel and will arrange for one that will fit your needs. There is a $50 commission for this service. For bed-and-breakfast accommodations in Jerusalem and apartments Tel Aviv, try such international sites as AirBnB.com, Homeaway.com and FlipKey.com.
At tourist information offices in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and many other Israeli cities, you can use a computer bank to access lists of accommodations in private homes for any area in the country. Ask the staff at the tourist information office for recommendations. For summers, weekends, and holidays, reserve ahead.
Youth Hostels -- Israel’s wonderful network of official Israel Youth Hostel Association Hostels, or IYHA Hostels (tel. 1-599/510-511; www.iyha.org.il/eng) offers simple, inexpensive accommodations in many dramatic sites throughout the country. IYHA hostels often offer the only available accommodations in remote areas of the country, or in areas along hiking routes.
In the past few years, the IYHA has been busy upgrading its network of facilities. Many hostels are in sleek new buildings set up with a maximum of four to six beds per room. A large percentage of these rooms now have private shower/bathrooms and can easily be converted into private doubles or family rooms. Dining facilities now offer meals far superior to the once-spartan youth-hostel fare.
Age is no barrier to staying at an AYHA Hostel nor is membership. Having a youth-hostel membership card, however, does give you certain advantages, such as better rates at the hostels, plus discounts at some restaurants, national parks, historical sites, museums, and on buses and trains. It is advisable to book in advance.
Israel Hostels, or ILH (www.hostels-israel.com), is an independent network of more than 30 interesting, independent hostels, inexpensive hotels, B&Bs, kibbutz guesthouses, and other unusual, inexpensive places to stay throughout Israel. The managements are almost always friendly, enthusiastic, well-informed, and offer personal attention. Highly recommended!
Israel is unique in that many Christian guesthouses that were originally set up for pilgrims have developed into wonderful options for travelers and most welcome guests of all faiths. Some of the best of these guesthouses are listed in detail in this guidebook, and many other excellent choices may be found on the Christian Information Centre website (www.cicts.org). These are among the most atmospheric and unusual accommodations in Israel, often set in historic buildings and enclaves. Rates are very reasonable; rooms are comfortable but simple; atmosphere is quiet; and the staff members are almost always polite.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.