Choosing a hotel is one of the make-or-break decisions of any trip. A great hotel can make a long travel day seem better, but a bad hotel can easily send a great trip on a downward spiral, whether it’s because the hotel seems unsafe, doesn’t have the amenities you thought it would have, or just doesn’t look (or smell) like the photos seemed to convey. Here are some pro tips for how to choose the best hotels for your bucket list trip to Israel.
Map the Location
The first rule of hotel selection is the same first rule of real estate: Location, location, location. You don’t want to spend all your time commuting to and from all the things you want to see, so be sure to look at your hotel options on a map. A good way to do this is to drop markers on all the places you want to visit on your favorite map app. Then, look for hotels that are close to those things. This way, you’ll be able to spend more time doing and seeing the things you want, instead of traveling to and from those things potentially for hours a day.
Plan to Stay in 2-3 Cities
When you start looking at the map and the distances between the things you want to experience, you might start to realize you can’t see everything by basing yourself in just one location. For instance, Jerusalem may seem like the best place to stay for an entire 7-10 day trip, but that means you’ll. be spending a lot of time in the car if you want to see the Sea of Galilee, Mount of Beatitudes, or Nazareth. And if you want to experience Tel Aviv, Haifa, and Caesarea, that’s yet another extremely long day in the car.
Instead, plan to spend 1-3 nights in more than one location. For instance, spend three nights in Jerusalem, then head up to Galilee for 1-2 nights, and finish out your trip with 2-3 nights in Tel Aviv as well. You’ll be able to see and do so much more because you’ll spend less time in transit. This also allows you to actually relax and enjoy all your experiences, instead of rushing to fit in as much as possible into long day trips.
Look Out for These Features
You’re visiting Israel to see some of the most significant historical sites of the last 5,000+ years. While your hotels will likely not date back to the beginning, they may be historic in their own rights. As such, there are some hotel features you might not be able to take for granted; if you want them, you’ll need to look for these features specifically:
- Elevators: If you’re staying in a hotel that boasts of its “historic” nature, be sure to look specifically for “elevator” as an amenity. If you don’t mind carrying your own luggage upstairs, this will not be an issue for you, but if you need an elevator to go up or down, make sure the hotel you book actually has one. This especially applies to more “boutique” properties, but it’s important to check even with a hotel that’s part of a major brand.
- Room size: Even the grandest historic hotels still have to work with the space they have. If having space in your hotel room is important, or essential, to you, be sure to look at photos both from the hotel’s website and review sites like Trip Advisor or Google. Some hotels may list standard room sizes as well, which may be helpful.
- Breakfast Included: Many hotels in Israel offer complementary breakfast to all guests, but it’s always good to confirm, just to be sure. Also important to note is that breakfast may or may not be available on Saturdays, or it may be considerably different that day, due to Shabbat. If you want to make sure you have breakfast available each day, make sure the hotel listing specified that it will be.
Use Your Points
Some very worthwhile hotels in Israel can be quite expensive. Because Israel is such a bucket list trip for so many, and you may only come once in your life, this is a great place to cash in on hotel points you may have been hoarding over the years. Or, if your trip is still six months or a year away, this is the time to start building points up with a great travel credit card. Find out what your current credit card rewards are, if any, and how to use them to your best advantage.
If you have hotel loyalties already, you’re in luck. Hilton points can be used at the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem, IHG rewards can be cashed in at many properties across the country, or you can redeem OneKey rewards for unique hotels that don’t necessarily belong to a particular loyalty program. If you’ve been accumulating points, miles, or hotel reward nights, this is a great destination to redeem them.