When it comes to hostels, I tend to think bigger isn’t better. Why? Well, in my experience, the more people crammed into hostels, the more chances of loud, obnoxiousness (although those travelers can be found everywhere, regardless), and a less safe vibe. Before arriving to Israel, I had planned on staying at Abraham Hostel, despite the 250 (!) bed count.
As far as hostels go, Abraham Hostel is one of the bigger hostels I have ever stayed at.
But, Abraham Hostel, located near the heart of the action and a 20-minute walk from the Old City of Jerusalem, isn’t like those other big-bed hostels. At all.
When we arrive around 10 p.m. on Friday night, after a quick drive from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, there are a few people sitting on the couches and using the tables, computers propped open. It’s not loud … at all, which takes me by surprise.
The staff at reception checks us in quickly and provides us a map outlining what is open on Shabbat nearby, since the holy city is pretty much being holy and shops are closed for 24 hours while Shabbat is celebrated. Before go to our room, we are each given one free drink ticket per person to be used at the bar on the second floor (which also serves food), and told about the complimentary breakfast in the morning.
After that, we head upstairs to check out our room. It’s four of us and we’ve got a four bed dorm, complete with a shower and bathroom en suite.
It’s been awhile since I’ve stayed in a dorm room, and this is the first time I’ve ever stayed in a dorm room with only friends, so instead of it being one of those places where I tip-toe around, carefully hide my technology gadgets and worry if I will snore, I’m excited at the idea of all of us being together.
Our first night is a slumber party, where camped on each other’s bottom bunks, we laugh and talk for hours before we all agree it is lights out and prepare for our weekend of exploring Bethlehem and Hebron with Abraham Tours.
We have two nights in the dorm, and both nights were fine and peaceful. The street where the hostel is located is a rather quiet one (despite a slew of Hasidic Jews running down the street yelling and celebrating just before sundown on Saturday).
Like any good hostel, having a common area where people can mingle is key. Abraham Hostel has plenty of this going on. On the main reception floor, there are couches parked around coffee tables, tables and chairs, a traveler center, hammocks and books to check out and encourage conversation.
But, it gets better.
The second floor is home to a bar, dining area and lounge complete with pool tables and free concerts. At night, thanks to the free drink tickets, people from the hostel gather here to enjoy wine, beer and snacks. Plus, plenty of seating. It’s also got a huge kitchen for travelers to beat the sticker shock of the shekel and make their own grub.
On the top floor is a lovely roof bar with big cushions to sit on and views of twinkling lights. While we were there, even though it was late May, it was still a bit chilly, so the roof bar lost after one drink.
Every morning, Abraham Hostel serves up a rather large breakfast of eggs, veggies, cereal and toast, included with the cost of the room. While it isn’t anything special, and I saw people use their hands and double-dip stuff, it certainly isn’t bad and given the cost of food in Israel (pricey!) it’s a nice thing to have included.
With so many beds, its easy for things to seem like it Abraham Hostel would just be one mad party hostel filled with dicks, but during my time there, it seemed nothing like that. And, as hostels go, this one isn’t just geared towards gap year backpackers. Here, there was a range of people from families with their kids to older people and then travelers like us.
As I mentioned earlier, Abraham Hostel is parked in a great spot. It’s right next to the tram station (which does not operate during Shabbat), a 15-minute walk (downhill, natch) from the central bus station and about five minutes from the amazing Ben Yehuda Street which is packed with restaurants, bars and shops.
The bottom line
With a price point to cater to all budgets, and a reputation as one of the best hostels in the world, plus polite and helpful staff, free wifi, free drinks, free breakfast, super clean rooms and tours of Israel starting right there, and even free SIM cards at times, Abraham Hostel is a fantastic place to stay while visiting Jerusalem. It helps that it was started by five well-traveled backpackers who know what a hostel should offer, and its clear that this hostel does just that. Prices start at 79 NIS nightly for a 10-bed mixed dorm room.
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