The Bible celebrates Abraham as not only the father of the great monotheistic religions, but also a paragon of hospitality. It is that venerable Middle Eastern tradition that Abraham Hostel, in west Jerusalem, aspires to honor in the 21st century, in the city 30 minutes north of the town in which the patriarch is buried.
Founded in 2010, Abraham Hostel has already racked up an impressive number of local and international awards: ranked the #1 hostel in Jerusalem by various media and consistently voted in the Top 10 in the world by Hostelworld.com, it was also picked to represent Israel exclusively in Europe’s Famous Hostels. Accommodations are very basic, revolving around bunk beds (and thin mattresses, with the exception of the larger private rooms) — but with an impeccable reputation for cleanliness and friendly atmosphere.
The Abraham is located in an ideal spot for visitors to Jerusalem: steps away from the Davidka Square light rail station on the tram line that connects many of Jerusalem’s most important sightseeing destinations. It is also in easy walking distance to key areas like downtown, the Old City, and the Mahane Yehuda open-air market, home not only to fresh produce but also great ethnic restaurants, bars and cafes.
The hostel has a wide range of options suitable for just about every budget traveler, starting at NIS 85 per night for a bed in dorm room (8 or 10 beds in the room). The price goes up a bit as the number of beds in the room goes down; there are also 6-bed and 4-bed dorm rooms. All dorm rooms are mixed — men and women — with the exception of one each female and male dorm. Each air-conditioned dorm room has its private bathroom and separate shower room, and each bed comes with sheets and a towel.
The next level up is private rooms, where the price per night is for the entire room. Here, too, there are six choices — ranging from singles to doubles and even a triple room — with the price (NIS 270 – 480 and up) depending on size, as well as how many the room sleeps. There are even family rooms, which contain four and five beds, plus a mini-refrigerator (crib also available). These rooms start at NIS 505 and 580, respectively. Photos of all rooms, detailing their configurations, appear on the website.
What really separates the Abraham apart, however, is the “vibe” — and the many “extras” that are not standard in many similar hostelries. A complimentary — and surprisingly nutritious and filling — breakfast is served every morning. There is free WiFi throughout the building, and computer terminals (available for a small fee) in the lobby. Each night of the week features a different activity — live music “Open Jam” nights every Sunday, barbecue dinners on the rooftop every Monday, movie nights every Tuesday, pub crawls on Wednesdays, trivia contests on Thursdays, and shabbat dinners on Friday nights — with frequent special events.
The public areas are inviting, with hammocks, comfortable furniture, foosball and pool tables, board games and large-screen TV’s. There are two bars — in the lounge and on the rooftop — with daily cocktail specials and happy hours. There is a large communal kitchen for cooking meals; panini and snacks are available for purchase on-site; and guests enjoy discounts at local eateries and taverns.
Other facilities include lockers, a luggage storage room, and a safety deposit box (at the front desk), as well as a laundry room with inexpensive washers and dryers. All of these, as well as the reception area, are open 24/7.
The Travelers’ Center, home of Abraham Tours, is truly a one-stop-shop for sightseeing in Israel. Maps are dispensed free of charge, and a wide range of reasonably priced — and some unique — tours can be booked. (Bonus: the detailed map also grants the bearer discounts at local restaurants.) There is even an excellent free walking tour of the Old City (the expert guides rely on tips).
The hostel can be sold out in peak seasons, so advance reservations are a good idea. And so that just about everyone who wants to stay there can get in, there is a [generous] limit to how many days you can stay.
No. of beds: 250
Text and photos by Buzzy Gordon, who was a guest of Abraham Hostel for purposes of review.