Growing up, our lodging options were a) stay at grandma’s house up north or b) rent a hotel for a week. The good news is that today there are plenty of other options to fit your travel style. We’ll look at a few of your options in more depth, for example staying with friends and family, Airbnb and other vacation rentals and hostels.
Stay with friends and family. Seriously, that’s my #1 tip! This is the gold standard of making travel affordable. Of course, staying with friends and family requires that you have friends and/or family where you are traveling, and that you are welcome to stay with them during your visit. But if it works out, there is nothing better for your pocketbook.
If this is impossible think about renting an apartment or a room in someone’s house can open up more possibilities, both in terms of the type of accommodation and pricing. You may be able to rent an entire apartment for the same price as a hotel room, or even less, which makes it a great option for groups or families traveling together. This blog goes into detail about how to stay in Israel on a budget, from personal experience (nothing beats that!).
Airbnb is an online community where people can rent out their private homes and residences to travelers. It started back in 2007, when two roommates couldn’t afford the rent on their loft in San Francisco, and they tried turning their living room into a bed and breakfast to help make rent.
Airbnb is a great way to explore the world on a budget, locate an affordable room during the busy season, or find a place to stay in areas where traditional lodging options are scarce, unappealing, or overpriced. The sites, which include properties in 190 countries, fills the middle market between hotels and Couchsurfing, and has been used over 10 million times to book rooms.
Lots of Tel Avivians are open to couch surfers, which will cost you nothing and puts you in touch with cool locals.
Couchsurfing, is the newest fad among college students or recent graduates, it’s a great way to meet locals and you just can’t beat the price. A potential couch surfer can search for their ideal place to stay based on location, age, gender, interests and languages spoken. They can then send a message to the potential couch surfer. The best part about this type of lodging is that hosts and guests are encouraged to “share something” and to spend time with each other, “to make new connections, and help each other discover different cultures.”
For example, I’m going to NYC this weekend, but it costs a ton of money, thankfully I’m couch surfing with my friend from college.
Accommodations in Tel Aviv and other major Israeli cities, like Jerusalem are notoriously not cheap, however there’s a trick to get a decent place to stay at a reasonable price. Many people groan at the notion of a bed and breakfast. They imagine a too-quaint, drafty old house, plastered in ugly wallpaper, crawling with cats, and tended to by a grouchy old woman. Not to mention having to eat breakfast at a table with strangers.
Well, there are still plenty of B&Bs like that. But there are plenty more run and frequented by hip urbanites looking for a more unique travel experience than a standard hotel can offer — namely, rooms with charm and architectural character, and gourmet farm-to-table breakfasts.
B&Bs come with a lot of the comforts and conveniences you expect of a hotel — but they typically charge less than major hotels in the same area, and that often includes a hearty meal each morning. Since B&Bs are by their nature not high-rise hotels but rather often set in historic homes, they sometimes offer the best location, right in the center of town. But check TripAdvisor to read reviews and see photos before you book.
Best Hostel in Tel Aviv:
For decades, hostels have been a lifesaver for backpacking budget travelers around the world. They are known for offering very affordable dormitory-style accommodations — e.g., four or more beds in a room with a shared bathroom — for solo travelers, but many offer private rooms as well (which are also very affordable, when compared to a hotel).
The first time I stayed in a hostel, was in Israel, upon my arrival at the hostel, they welcomed me with fresh coffee and tea. And although my room wasn’t ready yet, they let me hang out on the rooftop, filled with chairs and couches, and I was able to take in a gorgeous sunrise overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.
On my first night there, anticipating the need for a good night’s rest after 24 hours of travel, rather than staying in a dorm with shared beds and a shared bathroom, I opted for a private suite, which set me back only $60. I would recommend Tel Aviv’s Little Tel-Aviv Hostel has found a way to make travelers feel at home with its clean, aesthetic design and warm, caring staff who know each guest by name.
“We knew we didn’t want to have a big hostel because we believe in personal service,” said Sara Hatav, the hostel’s manager.
With about 70 beds, Little Tel-Aviv Hostel acts as a microcosmic community, perfect for both backpackers and “people who used to be backpackers and now have families,” Hatav said.
Top Hostel in Jerusalem: The Post Hostel
The Post is a stylish, urban hostel that serves as a cozy and convenient base for all types of travelers from across the globe. Located in the central post office building in the heart of Jerusalem, The Post is your central comfort zone, where you can really sense what Jerusalem is all about — from the inside. Whether you are here for a day, a week or a month, we are here to make sure you enjoy a genuine, authentic Jerusalem experience – at your pace and pleasure.
On top of accommodation, The Post also offers an authentic taste of the city that you won’t find anywhere else, including culinary events and workshops, fun activities, tours and cultural events featuring local musicians and artists, all of which attract a healthy mix of travelers and locals.
At The Post, you’re always a local and always welcome.
All of the Israeli hosts, in my experience were incredibly welcoming and hospitable, and having new local friends to show me around was a definite plus! I can’t imagine what our time in Israel would have been like had we been staying in hostels, but I’m sure at least there would have been a lot more lazing around on our parts without our new friends telling us about special local spots we just had to wake up early to go check out.
Hope this blog was able to answer some common questions for people who choose to extend their stay after a group tour. Of course there are other options, but, in my personal exposure, these are the best options for cheap and fun places to stay, that will guarantee you an authentic cultural Israeli experience.