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Lots of room at the inn.

To avoid resorting to Mary and Joseph's methods for overcoming accommodation problems, you're advised to book early for a visit to the Holy Land. Whatever your budget there are plenty of options, as Alex Benwell reports

YOUR STAY IN ISRAEL will be less stressful if you book your accomodation before you go. In this technological age, the Internet is a good place to look for options, or there are plenty of guidebooks to help you. You'll have no problem finding something to suit your budget.

Top notch: 60 [pounds sterling] + per night

All the major international hotel chains plus Israel's home-grown luxury hotels are well represented in most major tourist centres in Israel -- Eilat, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Tiberius and the Dead Sea. Out of season the price for a room in a hotel compares favourably with those in the UK and North America but during the high season and religious events prices can increase by 25 to 50 per cent. If you book through a travel agent or are in a large group you may be getting a significant discount. All five-star hotels are air-conditioned, which is essential in the sweltering heat of an Israeli summer. Nearly all have a pool and some even have a synagogue.

Many top-end hotels are now represented on the Internet. The Carlton in Tel Aviv is one example (www.carlton.co.il). The site allows you to view the rooms and you can email your reservation requests straight to the hotel.

If you're after something special at the top end of the price bracket you should consider one of the hotels on the shores of the Dead Sea at En Bokek. You can plaster yourself in therapeutic mud or soak in a sulphurous thermal mineral spring -- the Dead Sea just oozes with health. If you suffer from muscular and joint diseases, traumatic disturbances, allergies or skin diseases the mud is supposed to be especially beneficial.

Middle range: 20-59 [pounds sterling] per night

Kibbutz Hotels, bed and breakfasts and hospices are represented in this price category. A kibbutz is a `collective settlement' and Kibbutz Hotels is a chain offering good accommodation within such settlements. Most of its hotels are away from town centres and offer a peaceful, relaxed and rural experience. Kibbutz facilities such as swimming pools, tennis courts, private beaches and restaurants are available to residents, plus you can view this world-renowned lifestyle for yourself. You can book accommodation, fly-drive packages, and scenic or biblical tours over the phone (+972 3 5246161) or through the company's website (www.kibbutz.co.il).

Close to most religious sites are Christian hospices, which are often good value. You don't usually need to be a Christian to stay in one but you must abide by their rules. You can get more information from the Christian Information Centre (tel: +972 2 6272692).

The country has a number of mid-priced holiday villages geared to families and younger people, but these are only open in the summer.

Bottom rung: 5-19 [pounds sterling] per night

Since the 60s Israel has been popular with backpackers wanting to escape for a few months and live in the agricultural environs of a Kibbutz. Today rucksacked twenty-somethings are everywhere as are the hostels accommodating them. The quality of these hostels varies considerably so it's best to inspect your potential room or dormitory before passing over any money. However you should be guaranteed good accommodation at any of the thirty Israeli YHA hostels around the country. All offer dormitory accommodation and most provide meals and self-service kitchen facilities. Contact hostels directly or phone the IYHA (tel: +972 2 6558400).

Staying in the charismatic Old City of Jerusalem can be a lively experience. Petra Hostel near the Jaffa Gate is a typical Old City hostel. With a history all of its own, apparently having Tsar Nicholas the Second and General Gordan as past residents, it has a roof-top view that is unbeatable. The Old City is strongly recommended as you are close to all the sites and the atmosphere is fantastic, but be careful at night if you wander the badly lit streets as attacks on tourists are not uncommon. Petra, along with most other hostels, offers tours including one day trips to Galilee or Masada to see the sunrise.

In the summer, hostels fill up fairly quickly. If you don't mind roughing it a bit, then a mattress on the roof is a good alternative and a shrewd way of cooling down from the unbearable heat of the day. Sleep is an uncommon thing in a hostel dormitory. Snorers and inebriates struggling on to the top bunk are the main culprits, so ear plugs are strongly recommended.

WANT TO FIND OUT MORE?

There are Israeli Government Tourist Offices in most European capital cities and these are a mine of information. They will be able to send you brochures, suggested itineraries, videos and CD ROMs and should be able to answer any questions you have. You can contact the London office on tel: 01 71 299 1111
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Title Annotation:information on accomodations in Israel
Author:Benwell, Alex
Publication:Geographical
Geographic Code:7ISRA
Date:Jun 1, 1999
Words:839
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