Sleeping in Jerusalem Old City

Again I’m sharing guide-information with you, but this time it’s about hotels and hostels in Jerusalem, especially the old city. Most budget accommodation is located in the Old City’s Muslim, Christian and Armenian Quarters or in the city center. Decent mid-range options are thin on the ground, but there are plenty of choices in the top-end category, including atmospheric Christian hospices in the Old City and boutique hotels in the city center.

If you’ve a short question, email me about queries or questions about hotels, hostels, camping sites and apartments in Jerusalem and I will answer them promptly and for free. If you have something complicated for me to find out, the price is $40 per hour of my work.

There are no hotels or guesthouses of note in the Old City’s Jewish Quarter. If you want atmosphere, by all means stay in the Old City. But if you are after proximity to restaurants, bars, cafes and public transport, you are much better off staying in the city center, Mamilla or Yemin Moshe. If you have a car you’ll need to stay in the New City or pay 48NIS per 24 hours for a space at Mamilla Parking near Jaffa Gate.

Room rates can fluctuate wildly between seasons and in response to political disturbances. I have quoted high-season rates in my reviews; these apply from April to June and from September to October, as well as during Easter, Christmas and the New Year.

Before I go, some words about hotels and (especially) hostels in Israel in general and the hotels and hostels in Jerusalem specific and I will be brief. The inside of the hotels in Israel are in general more or less shabby (with exceptions) and compared with anywhere else pricey. Hotels in Jerusalem have the same problem, but the hostels are worse compared with the rest of Israel (with exceptions)! So please, don’t let you be fooled by prices as the means to make a choice in hotel or hostel. The best way to indicate the shabby-state of hotels and hostels are the bedrooms.

Old City

If you arrive in Jerusalem by taxi or sherut and are staying in the Old City, you’ll need to alight at one of the city gates and walk to your hotel. Note that the call to prayer can be a problem for light sleepers in the Muslim Quarter – bring earplugs.

  • Hashimi Hotel & Hostel (02-628 4410; http://www.alhashimihotel-jerusalem.com; 73 Souq Khan al-Zeit St, Muslim Quarter; dm/s/d US$35/60/95, Map)
    Slap bang in the middle of the market, this Palestinian-owned hostel imposes a number of rules on its guests (no alcohol, no unmarried couples in the same room, no credit cards, no mixed dorms, no breathing, etc), but all is forgiven when the newly renovated rooms are inspected and the extraordinary view from the rooftop is admired. Some of the rooms have views of the Dome of the Rock (request 313 or 311). Each of the two dorms has air-con, private bathroom and TV; the one on the 3rd floor has a view. Wi-fi is available in the lobby and on the 4th floor only.

    Hashimi Hotel & Hostel
    Hashimi Hotel & Hostel
  • Jaffa Gate Hostel (02-627 6402; http://www.jaffa-gate.hostel.com; Jaffa Gate; dm 100NIS, s/d 250/320NIS, with shared bathroom 200/280NIS, Map)
    Arab-run, this small and friendly hostel has one dorm (sleeping four) and 23 small and very basic rooms (more like coffins). There’s a lounge, a small roof terrace with wonderful views and a communal kitchen. Note that Muslim house rules prevent alcohol on the premises, breakfast isn’t served and credit-card payments aren’t possible.

    Jaffa Gate Hostel
    Jaffa Gate Hostel
  • Golden Gate Inn (02-628 4317; http://www.goldengate4.com; 10 Souq Khan al-Zeit St, Muslim Quarter; dm/d/tr 80/250/350NIS, Map)
    Set inside an atmospheric old home, this family-run guesthouse near Damascus Gate has single-sex dorms and clean rooms with en-suite bathroom, cable TV and air-con. The communal kitchen is spacious and well maintained, and there’s a rooftop with views. Note that wi-fi only works in the lobby and alcohol is forbidden on the premises.

    Golden Gate Inn
    Golden Gate Inn
  • Citadel Youth Hostel (02-628 5253; http://www.citadelyouthhostel.com; 20 St Mark’s Rd, Armenian Quarter; mattresses on roof 55NIS, dm 70NIS, d 320NIS, s/d with shared bathroom 180/200NIS, Map)
    A perfect example of a hostel with unrealized potential, the Citadel is only worth considering if the Abraham, Hashimi and Jaffa Gate Hostels are full. A labyrinthine 500-year-old building with plenty of Jerry-built additions, it offers thin foam mattresses on the rooftop in summer, old mattresses on the dorm beds, cramped and smelly shared bathrooms and overpriced private rooms.

    Citadel Youth Hostel
    Citadel Youth Hostel
  • Petra Hostel (02-628 6618; http://www.newpetrahostel.com; Omar Ibn al-Khattab Sq, Jaffa Gate; mattress on roof 50NIS, dm 70NIS, s/d 220/320NIS, Map)
    Built in the 1820s, this is the oldest hotel in Jerusalem. Some of its illustrious former patrons include Mark Twain and Herman Melville (and me of course). Unfortunately, the antiquated charm counts for little when the hot, stuffy and grubby rooms and dorms are taken into account. Only worth considering if you’re on a very tight budget and don’t mind roughing it.
    The only thing still very special about this guest house is the roof! Don’t forget the roof when you are there. And for the price you pay, no complaining.

    Petra Hostel
    Petra Hostel
  • Austrian Hospice (02-626 5800; http://www.austrianhospice.com; 37 Via Dolorosa, Muslim Quarter; dm/s/d/tr  €26/76/118/165, Map)
    This castle-like guesthouse first opened in 1863 and has plenty of heritage features. Rooms are simply furnished but are large and have good beds; three have a balcony and two have air-con (€5 surcharge). Single-sex dorms are in the basement, where there are also squeaky-clean shared bathrooms. The cloistered garden cafe is a popular retreat for guests. The hospice is on the corner of Al-Wad St and Via Dolorosa. Ring the intercom to enter (reception is open 7am to 11pm).

    Austrian Hospice
    Austrian Hospice
  • Lutheran Guest House (02-626 6888; http://www.luth-guesthouse-jerusalem.com; St Mark’s Rd, Armenian Quarter; s/d/tr €?, Map)(I never managed to get to know their prices. The man kept on talking and talking …)
    Beyond the heavy steel door are a welcoming lobby, a variety of rooms, a courtyard garden and rooftop reading room and a lounge. Guest rooms are simply furnished but comfortable, and there’s a generous buffet breakfast. From Jaffa Gate, walk down David St, then take the first right up a narrow staircase; the guesthouse is 100m down on the left.

    Lutheran Guest House
    Lutheran Guest House
  • Ecce Homo Pilgrim House (02-627 7292; reservation@eccehomoconvent.org; 41 Via Dolorosa, Muslim Quarter; dm/s/tw US$35/63/106, Map)
    If staying a few nights in a convent sounds intriguing, book yourself into this 150-year-old pilgrim guesthouse on the Via Dolorosa. The stone walls and dim corridors certainly evoke the feeling of a time gone by, and the rooftop terrace and comfortable reading lounge are lovely. Rooms are simply furnished and can be hot (no air-con). There’s a curfew.
    I slept there one time for 5 nights because of a Pilgrim tour in Jerusalem. I lost 5 kg that week, it was so hot. That means that it’s good.

    Ecce Homo Pilgrim House
    Ecce Homo Pilgrim House
  • Hotel East New Imperial (02-628 2261; http://www.newimperial.com; Jaffa Gate; s/d US$70/120, Map)
    Owner Abu el-Walid Dajani provides a warm welcome to his family’s hotel (they’ve owned it since 1949) and can spin some nice stories about its history. The labyrinthine layout can be confusing and B&B rooms are of varying quality; ask for a newly renovated one overlooking the side street, as the others aren’t great. A four-course dinner costs US$20.

    Hotel East New Imperial
    Hotel East New Imperial
  • Armenian Guesthouse (02-626 0880; armenianguesthouse@hotmail.com; 36 Via Dolorosa, Muslim Quarter; dm US$39, s US$97, d US$136, Map)
    Recently renovated and reasonably priced rooms make this guesthouse in the Armenian Catholic Patriarchate worth considering. There’s no garden and no atmospheric common areas (the things that make the guesthouses run by other religious orders in the city so special), but the very clean rooms are modern with good bathrooms and comfortable beds.
    And there are the same beds my grandmother slept in in Holland. Amazing!

    Armenian Guesthouse
    Armenian Guesthouse
  • Christ Church Guesthouse (02-627 7727; http://www.cmj-israel.org; Omar Ibn al-Khattab Sq, Jaffa Gate; s US$128, d US$194, Map)
    This wonderfully maintained guesthouse gets high marks for its period atmosphere, multilingual staff, prime location and garden setting. The simply furnished rooms have stone floors, domed ceilings and comfortable beds, and there are lounges where guests can relax over free tea and coffee. Breakfast (included), lunch (20NIS to 60NIS) and dinner (65NIS) are served in the on-site cafe.
    It’s still quite pricey, and the food is reasonable!

    Christ Church Guesthouse
    Christ Church Guesthouse

East Jerusalem

Muslim Cemetery along the Eastern Wall of the Old City of Jerusalem near Lions Gate.
Muslim Cemetery along the Eastern Wall of the Old City of Jerusalem near Lions Gate.

The area immediately east of the Old City’s Damascus Gate is predominantly Palestinian and has a pronounced Middle Eastern vibe – street traders hawk their wares to housewives wearing hijab, Arabic music blares from cars, and shopfronts and streets are decidedly less manicured than their often-staid West Jerusalem equivalents. There is a mix of Arab- and multinational-owned hotels here, but few are worthy of recommendation. The Damascus Gate, Shivtel Israel and Shimon  HaTzadik JLR stops are close by.

  • American Colony Hotel (02-627 9777; http://www.americancolony.com; 1 Louis Vincent St; s US$265, d US$310-640, ste US$675- 955, Map)
    This historic hotel, built in 1902 and now Swiss-run, was a popular lodging for wealthy Westerners in the early 20th century and is still is a destination of choice for many VIPs. There’s a variety of rooms spread across three wings; all are elegant and comfortable, but those in the original building are definitely the best. The breakfast buffet is excellent. The facilities here include a pool, a well-equipped gym, a courtyard cafe, a lobby lounge, a cellar bar and a garden.
    If you have the budget, this is the hotel to stay when you are in Jerusalem. The one and only.

    American Colony Hotel In Jerusalem
    American Colony Hotel In Jerusalem
  • Jerusalem Hotel (02-628 8982, 02-628 3282; http://www.jrshotel.com; Derekh Shchem (Nablus) Rd; s/d US$160/240, Map)
    With tile-clad stone walls, high ceilings and antique furnishings, this small and friendly hotel in an 1890s building opposite one of the East Jerusalem bus stations can rightfully claim boutique status. The vine-covered courtyard restaurant is a lovely spot for dinner in warm weather.
    I love this hotel, because the rooms are amazing.

    Jerusalem Hotel
    Jerusalem Hotel
  • St George’s Guesthouse (02-628 3302; stgeorges.gh@j-diocese.org; 20 Derekh Shchem (Nablus) Rd; standard s/d US$110/150, deluxe s/d US$150/180, Map)
    Located on the property of a 110-year-old Anglican church, this tranquil guesthouse has twin guest rooms set around a lovely courtyard garden. Amenities are good – each room has beds with crisp linen, satellite TV and a kettle; the deluxe versions with their stone walls, extra space and modernized bathrooms are worth the extra charge.

    St George’s Guesthouse
    St George’s Guesthouse
  • Legacy Hotel (02-627 0800; http://www.jerusalemlegacy.com; 29 Derekh Shchem (Nablus) Rd; royal s/d US$150/185, executive s/d US$175/195, Map)
    After changing its name and having a major facelift, the former YMCA hostel in East Jerusalem is looking pretty snazzy. There are two types of room (deluxe and standard), both of which have kettles and cable TV. It’s worth paying extra for a deluxe version as these have larger bathrooms and balconies with views over the Mount of Olives. Facilities include a 5th-floor restaurant with great views over the Old City, a lobby bar and a garden cafe. Guests are given free entry to the YMCA gym and indoor pool in the building next door.

    Legacy Hotel
    Legacy Hotel
  • National Hotel (02-627 8880; http://www.nationalhotel-jerusalem.com; As-Zahra St; s/d/tr US$170/200/270, Map)
    It wouldn’t win any awards for its design, but this modern hotel near Herod’s Gate has a number of things working in its favor, including good service, free parking and an on-site restaurant with views over the Mount of Olives (no alcohol, though). Wi-fi is available in the lobby only.

    National Hotel
    National Hotel

City Center

The commercial heart of predominantly Jewish West Jerusalem, this area is full of sleeping, eating and drinking options but almost totally closes down over Shabbat. The JLR travels down the city centre’s spine, Jaffa Rd, and both the Old City and the Central Bus Station are within walking distance.

  • Abraham Hostel (02-650 2200; https://abrahamhostels.com; 67 HaNevi’im St, Davidka Sq; dm 114NIS, s 300NIS, d 480NIS, Map)
    Put simply, the Abraham is an exemplar for hostels everywhere. The best backpacker option in the city (none of the others come close), it’s conveniently located next to the Davidka tram stop, its en-suite rooms are basic but clean, the convivial lounge-bar has an attached communal kitchen and – best of all – there’s a huge entertainment and tours program. Try to be here on Shabbat, when the hostel holds a dinner for up to 40 people (40NIS). You should also take advantage of the free Hebrew and Arabic lessons, enjoy happy hour (6pm to 8pm) at the bar and sign up for at least one tour. The entrance is on HaNevi’im St, near the bus stop.

    Abraham Hostel
    Abraham Hostel
  • Jerusalem Hostel & Guest House (02-623 6102; http://www.jerusalem-hostel.com; 44 Jaffa Rd, Zion Sq; dm 90NIS, s 220-340NIS, d 270-360NIS, Map)
    A fine option for budget travelers keen to base themselves in the city center, this hostel offers clean en-suite rooms, single-sex dorms, a communal kitchen and a rooftop. There’s a healthy traveler vibe, with lots of info tacked onto the walls and plenty of other guests willing to lend free advice. In addition to the main backpacker wing the hostel has a new section in a separate building with private rooms (300NIS).
    Many in those rooms tend to separate them from those in the dorms. That’s a pity, because they miss loads of socializing and traveling info.

    Jerusalem Hostel & Guest House
    Jerusalem Hostel & Guest House
  • City Center Suites (02-650 9494; http://www.citycentervacation.com; 17 King George St (cnr HaHistadrut St); d US$130-150, ste US$165-190, economy studio s/d without breakfast US$110/130, Map)
    ‘Plenty of character, but looking a bit worn’ is a common descriptor for accommodation in this ancient city. And that’s why the existence of this spick-and-span modern hotel should be wholeheartedly celebrated. Spread over two buildings in a conveniently located part of the New City, it offers 38 comfortable rooms with kitchenette; the economy studio is the least impressive. The same owners operate the equally impressive Shamai suites.

    City Center Suites
    City Center Suites
  • Shamai Suites (02-579 7705; http://www.shamaisuites.com; 15 Ben Hillel St; studio r US$140-160, ste US$200-220, Map).
  • Hotel Palatin (02-623 1141; http://www.palatinhotel.com; 4 Agrippas St; s US$110, d US$155, Map)
    Located near the hub of Jerusalem’s shopping and cafe district, the Palatin has small but reasonably comfortable rooms that are overpriced at the rack rates cited above but can be found at much better prices on booking sites. The friendly service almost (but not quite) compensates for the polyester sheets.

    Hotel Palatin
    Hotel Palatin
  • Arthur Hotel (02-623 9999; http://www.atlas.co.il; 13 Dorot Rishonim St; s/d US$275/325, Map)
    There are plenty of small hotels in Jerusalem, but few are as well run as this classy place near Zion Sq. Rooms come in many shapes and sizes, but the best are those at the rear of the building (ask for one with a balcony). The breakfast here is impressive, and the complimentary afternoon aperitif is a hit with guests.
    The breakfast is really impressive and you can eat a wonder full breakfast with loads of sweets (that’s for me of course).

    Arthur Hotel
    Arthur Hotel
  • 7 Kook Boutique Hotel (02-580 8068; http://www.7kookhotel.com; Ticho St; d US$240-380, s without breakfast US$216-342, Map)
    There aren’t too many boutique hotels in Jerusalem, so the 2014 opening of this well-located example of the genre was a welcome occurrence. Part of an upmarket apartment development, 7 Kook offers four stylish room types – studio, deluxe, family and suite – all of which have comfortable bed, excellent bathroom with tub, espresso machine and kettle.
    It’s a beautiful hotel from the inside and outside too.

    7 Kook Boutique Hotel
    7 Kook Boutique Hotel
  • Harmony Hotel (02-621 9999; http://www.atlas.co.il; 6 Yo’el Salomon St; s/d US$275/325, Map)
    A spacious lounge with pool table, books and a fireplace is the major draw at this well-run hotel near Zion Sq, especially during the free afternoon aperitif. There are 50 rooms in total; those on the 1st floor are new and the others are being renovated (opt for a corner one if possible). Free parking is available.
    A strange hotel. The interior designers were or color blind or there is something wrong with me.

    Harmony Hotel
    Harmony Hotel
  • Notre Dame Guest House (02-627 9111; http://www.notredamecenter.org; 3 Paratroopers Rd; d/tw US$240-290, tr US$290, ste US$450-550, Map)
    Most of the rooms at this splendidly located Vatican-owned guesthouse have wonderful views of the Old City and the Mount of Olives. The building dates from 1904 and its recently refurbished rooms are a great choice, especially as the guesthouse also has a Mediterranean restaurant with a garden terrace downstairs, and a cheese and wine restaurant on the rooftop.
    This so called guest house is pricey, and not family owned, but it’s fancy and well maintained and run. When I slept here during a Catholic tour, I couldn’t sleep the whole night, like I was counting the mosaic above my head. Beautiful guest house though.

    Notre Dame Guest House
    Notre Dame Guest House

Mamilla & Yemin Moshe

  • St Andrew’s Scottish Guesthouse (02-673 2401; http://www.scotsguesthouse.com; 1 David Remez St, Yemin Moshe; s US$135, d US$180, tw US$200, ste US$240, apt US$380, Map)
    St Andrew’s feels like a bit of Scotland transported to the Middle East, stone for stone, nun for nun. Set on a hill overlooking the Old City, with leafy gardens and an imposing stone facade, it has simple rooms and one two-bedroom apartment sleeping four. The more expensive rooms include balconies with a view; those that don’t have access to a large sun deck. All have kettles.
    I knew a Scottish cook, who hated Scotland, but always slept here for some reason.

    St Andrew’s Scottish Guesthouse
    St Andrew’s Scottish Guesthouse
  • Mamilla Hotel (02-548 2222; http://www.mamillahotel.com; 11 King Solomon (Shloma HaMelekh) St, Mamilla; r US$510- 635, ste US$785, Map)
    The best location in Jerusalem (near Jaffa Gate, on the edge of the Old and New Cities) is but one of many inducements on offer at this luxury hip hotel. Rooms are large and well equipped, and leisure B&B facilities include spa with steam room and hamam, gym, indoor pool, two bars, cafe and rooftop Italian restaurant.

    Mamilla Hotel
    Mamilla Hotel
  • David Citadel Hotel (02-621 1111; http://www.thedavidcitadel.com; 7 King David (David HaMelekh) St, Mamilla; r US$510-634, ste US$1000, Map)
    Like airports, some large hotels are microcities, populated with different people, housing, businesses and leisure facilities. The 400-room David Citadel fits this description, providing a city within a city for its pampered guests. Rooms are spacious and beautifully appointed (the suites are knockouts), there are three restaurants, and facilities include executive lounge, outdoor pool, children’s play centre, spa and gym.

    David Citadel Hotel
    David Citadel Hotel
  • YMCA Three Arches Hotel (02-569 2692; http://www.ymca3arch.co.il; 26 King David St, Yemin Moshe; s/tw/tr/ste US$200/220/250/290, Map)
    This 1933 building is an important local landmark and a decent place to spend a few nights. The hotel’s 56 rooms are simply furnished and could be cleaner; all have twin beds and cable TV. There’s an on-site restaurant, a gym and a pool.

    YMCA Three Arches Hotel
    YMCA Three Arches Hotel

German Colony & Rehavia

  • Little House in Rehavia (02-563 3344; http://www.jerusalem-hotel.co.il; 20 Ibn Ezra St, Rehavia; s 450NIS, d 600-690NIS, Map)
    There’s a boutique feel to this hotel in a restored 1942 stone building. Located in  one of Jerusalem’s prettiest neighborhoods (a 1.5km walk to the Old City), it has 28 rooms, a roof terrace, a garden and a strictly kosher dining room where a daily breakfast and Shabbat lunch and dinner are served.

    Little House in Rehavia
    Little House in Rehavia
  • Arcadia Ba’Moshava (02-542 3000; http://www.arcadiahotels.co.il; 13 Yehoshua bin-Nun St; s/d midweek US$240/270, weekend US$270/300, Map)
    Opened in 2014 after a major restoration, this hotel occupies a gorgeous Arab-style villa dating from 1935. ‘Ba’Moshava’ means ‘in the Colony’ and its location in a residential street off the Emek Refa’im shopping and entertainment strip is excellent. Rooms are smallish, but that won’t matter, as you’ll spend most of your time in the elegant lounge or leafy garden. The hotel provides bikes for the use of its guests.

    Arcadia Ba'Moshava
    Arcadia Ba’Moshava
  • Jerusalem Garden Home (050 524 0442; http://www.jerusalemgardenhome.com; 74 Derech Beit Lehem; s/d/tr US$140/185/210, Map)
    Run by a friendly couple, this B&B near the German Colony has a real home-away-from-home feel. It offers four rooms sleeping between two and four persons; each has a kitchenette and cable TV. The same owners operate a garden restaurant across the road, where breakfast is served.
Jerusalem Garden Home
Jerusalem Garden Home

Romema & Mekor Baruch

  • Allenby 2 B&B (052 396 3160; http://www.dahliaandnirbnb.com/ALLENBY-2; Allenby Sq 2, Romema; s 180NIS, d 330NIS, d with shared bathroom 250NIS, Map)
    One of the most popular B&Bs in Jerusalem, Allenby 2 combines a warm and convivial atmosphere with excellent service. With 11 rooms spread over a few properties, it’s also one of the larger B&Bs in the city. The shared kitchen and location close to the Central Bus Station and JLR line are definite draws. There’s no reception, so call ahead.

    Romema & Mekor Baruch Allenby
    Romema & Mekor Baruch Allenby 2
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