IYHA ... Israeli Youth Hostel Association ... was a really good vacation stay alternative! During my recent trip to Israel, I sampled four of these.
All of the hostels provide a bedroom area and private bathroom and shower, and breakfast - and all of them were around the $86USD per night mark. This is a substantial breakfast! Buffet style, and everything you could want in a great hot dairy breakfast. I checked out the price of substantial hot breakfasts at various restaurants, and most of these were around $14 ... so that just adds to the value of these locations.
Also - each place has a hot buffet supper available that you can buy into, and the cost varied at each location - all the way from 55NIS (about $18.35) to 75NIS (about $25) ... and I have no idea why the prices varied so much.
The first place I stayed at was Keire Deshe, along the shore of the Sea of Galilee. Here, I got one of the really good rooms, a family room in a great location with a balcony. (It doesn't always happen that way.). The room was on the second floor and very large with a private balcony that gave a delightful view of the Sea of Galilee and beautiful birds and shrubbery and the lawn, where people would picnic and relax. There is a private beach here, too ... with beach chairs available. I would stay here again, in a second! ... and told them so! :). Even if I didn't have one of the prime rooms again, I would stay there - as the facility itself is beautiful, both front yard and back yard, and parking is ample and easy - and the staff were very laid back and relaxed with everything, including meals, and I loved my stay there! I stayed three wonderful nights! Suppers were 65NIS.
At this hostel - I found information and phone numbers for all the other hostels ... which prompted my spontaneous cross-Israel tour!
The second place I stayed at was in Akko, in a family room. I stayed only one night, so didn't get to see much in the area - but the youth hostel there is incredible ... it's like a major hotel! Very very modern. Supper was most expensive here at 75NIS, but I was very glad to have that option. The bedding was luxurious ... and the towels ... and the facility, really, was second to none. The room I stayed in did not have a balcony ... but many did. I believe my rate here, too, was a bit lower ... in the $70's, not $80's ... and perhaps this is because I didn't have a balcony - I am not sure. Parking was a bit of a challenge - as there is little space available on their premises. But what they do is offer you a discount coupon on a paid parking area which is right next to the hostel, which charges 20NIS a day ... and so parking would cost you 10NIS a day, as long as you stay put. There is no in and out privilege.
The third youth hostel I stayed at was in Eilat, and I had a single room here. This was a very basic room - and small ... but right outside my door was a little covered patio area with seating and a beautiful view of the Red Sea! I stayed here three nights. This location had the best breakfasts, in my opinion. They had a selection of salads that were just a bit fancier, and hot chocolate available in their coffee machine, and an interesting assortment of cheeses, and more of a variety of fruit ... and lots of window seating with real tablecloths and flowers on the table. Very very nice! They had a nice overflow parking area in the back - and to park in the gated back area, actually, was more convenient than parking in the front.
The fourth hostel I stayed at was in Ein Gedi ... and this was an older facility and room, but very convenient in all ways - especially parking, which was near my door, and so long as people didn't double park - we did okay. I stayed two nights. My room had a little balcony area, and it was again a family room with several bunk beds. The dining area was very nice, and they prepared a wonderful cake in the morning! Pets were allowed at this hostel - and a few people brought their dogs. It was in walking distance of Ein Gedi Park, and guests were given a discount pass for the park.
At all the youth hostels ... the reception desk personnel made all the difference, and were a resource to us travellers. Very helpful and accommodating ... even offering to doctor-up my foot, which had blistered again!
If you like parks and casual-dress touring - I think you would enjoy the youth hostels.
And you really do find every age! As an older person (mid 50's), I really and truly did not feel out of place at all, in any of the four hostels I stayed at. I would expect that those I didn't stay at, including those in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv - would be "as good"!
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