Where to stay in Israel
Israel’s hotels are plentiful and of high quality. They range from small luxury, art-deco boutique hotels to large chain hotels, and much in between. Many of the big, international hotel chains are represented throughout the country including Hilton, Sheraton and more recently Leonardo, as well as national chains such as Fattal, Isrotel, Rimonim and Dan. About 380 hotels are members of the Israel Hotel Association. Prices vary according to season and region, and it is best to book months in advance for the high season (usually July to August, though this varies according to the region) and for religious holiday periods.
Spa hotels and resorts are big business in the country, and luxury hotels offering in-room Jacuzzis, spa clinics and (especially along the Dead Sea) treatment centres are of exceptionally high quality.
Bed and breakfast
Across Israel, many private families have converted their homes into bed & breakfasts, known as zimmers. Some are simple rooms with a shared bathroom while others are private bungalows with kitchenettes, jacuzzi baths and all mod cons. Zimmers (www.zimmeril.com) can be found throughout the country in some of the most picturesque locations, but can be expensive. Weekday prices tend to be considerably cheaper.
The fine climate makes Israel a good country for camping, with campsites providing a touring base for each region. They offer full sanitary facilities, electric current, a restaurant and/or store, telephone, postal services, first-aid facilities, shaded picnic and campfire areas, and day and night security guards. They can be reached by bus, but all are open to cars and caravans. Most have tents and cabins, as well as a wide range of equipment for hire. All sites have swimming facilities either on site or within easy reach. Many of the country’s national parks also offer campsites.
Beautiful guesthouses (different to the zimmer bed and breakfast) can be found in rural areas, while a new and flourishing network of hostels and budget accommodation has appeared in recent years. The Israel Hostels group (http://www.hostels-israel.com) lists independent hostels throughout the country whose facilities and often idyllic locations make for welcome budget options. The Israel Youth Hostel Organisation (www.iyha.org.il) also has information on independent hostels.
These hostels offer dormitory beds, family bungalows, guesthouse standard rooms, huts, or modern cubicles and are scattered across the country in both urban and rural areas.
Located mainly in places of Christian interest, some 30 Christian hospices (operated by a variety of denominations) provide room and board at low rates. Although preference is given to pilgrimage groups, most accommodate tourists. They vary greatly in size and standards but all offer tourists basic accommodation in situations where hotels are full. Details are available from the Israel Government Tourist Office.
Several desert eco-lodges have emerged in recent years and allow locals and residents to get-to-one with nature in an organic, low-key setting. Scattered throughout the southern desert, they promote ecological and sustainable living.