By Douglas E. Duckett
Hotels in Israel offer smaller, less opulent rooms than most North Americans are used to, and on top of that, in recent years hotel prices in Israel have really surged. It is harder and harder to travel to Israel on a modest budget, but it is still possible to find good places at more reasonable prices. When planning, just think of what it would cost to travel to New York or London, and you won’t be as shocked.
I book most of my hotels in Israel through a Tel Aviv-based travel agency called Regent Tours, affiliated with Isram. I have generally found that Regent Tours Isram, which contracts directly with hotels, can deliver lower prices than direct booking, even lower than Internet “discount” rates. It’s also easier than contacting each hotel individually.
You can call Anna Karic at Regent/Isram toll-free from the United States at (866) 383-6130. If calling within Israel, dial (03) 694-7777, or from other countries, dial 972-3-694-7777. You can also e-mail Anna at firstname.lastname@example.org or at email@example.com, but if you can use the toll-free number, I suggest you call first.
Please mention that I sent you, and I also ask that you mention my referral if you book directly at any of the hotels I recommend.
Another agency that can assist with booking hotel rooms is Beresheet–Genesis with Clive Newton, www.genesistourism.com, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, tel. (972) 57-776-0140; Clive is an active contributor on the TripAdvisor Eilat forum and is very helpful, and his firm offers special discounts for Eilat hotels.
Whomever you use, I also recommend later confirming the reservation directly with the hotel as well to avoid any possible miscommunication on dates and details. Being too careful never hurt.
Anna at Regent can also set you up with tour guides or groups and can help organize bar and bat mitzvah trips for families. Regent Tours can also book the VIP service to expedite your airport experience; while I would not spend that kind of money, some like that kind of personal service.
Israel on a Budget
To expand a bit on the cost issue, it is possible to tour Israel less expensively, but it takes careful planning. For accommodations, look for places like the Abraham Hostels in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem (www.abrahamhostels.com), which get excellent reviews.
Other options include hostels through the Israel Youth Hostel Association (www.iyha.org.il) and religious pilgrim hostels, sometimes called “hospices” (which bear no relation to medical care), which are generally open to people of all faiths or no faith.
Many travelers now use Airbnb or similarsites to rent rooms at lower costs, and if you are traveling with a family or group and in a city forseveral days, renting apartments and self catering may save money.
TripAdvisor regulars on the Israel Forum can be a lot of help in this area. You can also try couch-surfing, but I’m 61 and spoiled and have no experience to offer in that area! But remember: Israel is not a “show-up-and-wing-it” destination. At least know ahead where you will be sleeping every night.
Nearly all Israeli hotels come with huge breakfast spreads that will likely fill you past lunch, and some hostels provide that. For dinner, you can eat inexpensively with “street food” such as falafel (vegetarian and probably vegan) or shwarma (like gyros).
©2004-2019 Douglas E. Duckett, All rights reserved.