In Israel you can find every possible type of lodging, including luxury spa resorts, chic boutique hotels, country inns, and rural bed-and-breakfasts. There are also some more specialized offerings, including Christian guesthouses and kibbutz hotels (lodgings on the grounds of collective communities).
Some are utilitarian, but some recent trends are a rise in distinctive boutique hotels and in luxury properties, whether in the cities or the countryside. In contrast, options such as kibbutz hotels and bed-and-breakfasts (known as zimmers in Israel) offer a glimpse into local life and a more leisurely experience.
Israel has a one- to five-star ranking system for hotels similar to that used in many places in Europe, though only a limited number of hotels participate in the system. The Ministry of Tourism has already rated the country’s 9,000 B&Bs. They’re ranked A, B, or C, based on size and the facilities offered.
Non-Israeli citizens paying in foreign currency are exempt from the 17% V.A.T. on hotel rooms.
Throughout Israel, lodging prices often include breakfast. Prices in the reviews are the lowest cost of a standard double room in high season.
Apartment and House Rentals
Short-term rentals are popular, especially in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv and particularly for families who would otherwise be taking two or three hotel rooms. Options range from basic studios to mansions, and most are privately owned.
Good Morning Jerusalem. 02/623–3459; www.accommodation.co.il.
Israel Holiday Apartments. 09/772–7163; www.holidayapartments.co.il.
Vacation Rental By Owner. www.vrbo.com.
Since 2005, thousands of zimmers have sprung up, especially in the Galilee and the Golan. These are intimate cabins, usually featuring one or two bedrooms, a kitchenette, a hot tub, and an outdoor lounging area. Prices aren’t necessarily lower than hotels, but if it's peace and quiet you're after, these may be just the thing.
Many zimmers are located in moshavim—semicommunal rural communities. Private-home owners are also increasingly opening their doors to guests.
Home Accommodation Association of Jerusalem. www.bnb.co.il.
Rural Tourism in Israel. www.zimmeril.com.
Lodgings called Christian hospices (meaning hotels) provide accommodations and sometimes meals; these are mainly in and around Jerusalem and the Galilee. Some hospices are real bargains, while others are merely reasonable; facilities range from spare to luxurious. Those in rural settings are often tranquil retreats. Most give preference to pilgrimage groups, but many will accept individual travelers when space is available.
Travelujah. 052/744--4033; www.travelujah.com/groups/category/Christian-Guest-Houses.
Around the country, kibbutz hotels offer a variety of accommodations in what are often lovely settings. Some kibbutz hotels are luxurious, while others are more basic. Most have large lawns, swimming pools, and athletic facilities. Some offer lectures about the history of kibbutzim and tours of the settlements and the surrounding areas. These kibbutz hotels are popular with tour groups.
Kibbutz Hotels Chain. 03/560–8118; en.kibbutz.co.il.