Looking back, it was a banner travel day for Angie Away.
I’d already made my way by taxi, then another taxi, then shuttle, then bus, then tram, from Amman, Jordan, over the scrubby desert wilderness border to Jerusalem, Israel. And I did it all by myself in just a couple of hours.
I was feeling pretty good. Pretty legit. Pretty travel savvy.
And then, after I amazed even myself with my ability to roll with the punches and play it cool, to top it all off, do you want to know what I did?
I checked in to a hostel. That’s right. A hostel! Look at me now!!
By now, you’ve probably read about my generalized disdain for the hostel concept. (And if you haven’t, please check it out. It’s not often I get so riled up!) You’ve probably also read the rebuttal to my cranky missive from Colm Hanratty of Hostelworld.com.
So where do I stand on hostels today?
I’m happy to say that it was my experience at Abraham Hostel in Jerusalem that nudged me toward reconsidering hostels as a viable lodging option for my travels.
Abraham (you know, Father Abraham had many sons, and many sons had Father Abraham – remember that from Sunday school? That Abraham!) was the father of monotheism and spent lots of time wandering through the Middle East. One might say he was the first backpacker!
Back in Old Testament times, there were no hostels and very few inns, so travelers often relied on the gracious hospitality of strangers they happened upon during their journeys. Abraham would’ve at times been on the giving and receiving end of this hospitality.
The folks at Abraham Hostel – Gal, Yaron and Maoz in particular – have taken the region’s past to heart and dreamed up this comfy home away from home at 67 HaNevi’im in Jerusalem.
Like any good hotel, Abraham Hostel has plenty of room options — doubles, triples, mixed dorms, female only rooms, family rooms and of course, the all important single room. If I’ve learned anything in my travels of late it’s that hostels aren’t so bad when you can snag a single!
You get all the benefits of hostel life — meeting people, full kitchen, access to great tours and friendly staff – with none of the annoyances of sharing a room Real World-style with strangers – snoring and the inevitable 5 a.m. plastic bag rustling.
At Abraham Hostel, rooms run from about $20 to $120 and can be booked here. Oh, and all the rooms have ensuite bathrooms. None of this wandering down the hall half-naked business! Hallelujah!
Having decided at the very last minute to pop over to Israel, I was as unprepared as you could ever imagine to experience this new destination. The only information I had was what I’d read in the Bible, and while I’m totally onboard with loving my neighbor, it doesn’t make for the most modern travel guide.
Fortunately, the staff was super helpful and friendly and they answered my millions of questions with ease – what was closed for the sabbath, where it was safe to go at night, the best times to visit the Old City, where to find a chai latte… really, everything!
The location is perfect – close to the famous market, about 20 minutes walking from the Jaffa Gate and less than a minute to the nearest tram stop. I also loved that Abraham Hostel offers free breakfast, a free walking tour of the Old City and FREE WIFI.
That’s more than I can say for half the $500/night hotels I stay in!
On top of all the amenities and freebies, the comfortable rooms, ensuite bathrooms, pleasant staff and proximity to everything you could ever want to see in Jerusalem and beyond (Egypt & Jordan tours are available, too), I have to say I was most impressed with the extensive programming available for travelers.
From Valentine’s Day parties to game night to movie & popcorn get-togethers, there was always something to do at the hostel. I met so many people at the communal Shabbat Dinner, where about 40 of us prepared and ate a traditional meal together; at the pub crawl (maybe not so traditional but still entertaining) and on the various tours I took of Bethlehem and Jerusalem. (And I had so many great pictures of all the fun, but I took them all with my iPhone which subsequently crashed and deleted everything from that week. Yuck.)
I didn’t know it when I arrived, but I wasn’t surprised to learn Abraham Hostel is the No. 1 hostel in Israel. I’ll certainly stay there on my return to Jerusalem!
When you go, say hello to Gal, Maoz and Yaron from me and be sure to check out the free walking tour of the Old City.
More on that when we pick up next time…