Abraham Hostels. More than a hostel
Most of the time when we travel it’s just the two of us and sometimes that can be a bit boring. Maybe that’s why we sometimes prefer to stay in nice and cozy hostels rather than in hotels that feel so impersonal sometimes. Hostels are a good idea when you want to meet new people but usually people still think of them as places for loud teenagers and young adults who like to party all night and can’t afford a nice hotel. We knew about Israel that they have a lot of hostels for travelers all ages, mainly because their hotels can be quite pricey. We stayed at Abraham Hostels that have hostels in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Nazareth. The Tel Aviv one is their newest, opened in the spring of 2016 and when we saw pictures with the mayor having lunch there we didn’t hesitate. And the one in Jerusalem has been voted many times as one of the top 10 best hostels in the world and the best one in Israel. Since we only stayed for 5 days in Israel, we spent our time between the hostel in Tel Aviv and the one in Jerusalem.
We arrived in Tel Aviv before check-in, but that wasn’t a problem because we could leave our luggage in the luggage room for free and we went to explore the city for a bit. We quickly changed in the bathroom because we came from 9*Celsius in Bucharest to sunny Tel Aviv with 26* and we left to see parts of the city before we could check in. The hostel is right in the heart of the city and we walked everywhere. It is within walking distance to the central bus station (15 mins), the beach (20 mins), Carmel Market (10 mins) and Old Jaffa (30 mins). We didn’t find those to be long distances because we like to walk around a lot and explore a new city that way when we’re on vacation, so the location of the hostel was perfect for us. The people at the reception are very friendly and they help you with everything you need (and they give you a free welcome drink upon arrival, so that’s always a plus). They have their own tours, Abraham Tours, where you can book all sorts of activities and tours. In Tel Aviv we chose a shakshuka workshop where we learned how to make the traditional Israeli dish. We also took a tour of the Old Jaffa and a trip to Masada Desert and the Dead Sea. But they have all kind of cool tours, some of them lasting a few days, like the one to Petra and Jordan where you spend the night in the desert with the Bedouins. That was pretty awesome, but unfortunately we didn’t have the time.
Since the Tel Aviv hostel opened quite recently, everything is still new and shiny. And big. Especially the communal area with the kitchen. But what surprised us the most was the variety of people we found there. We met young adults, people with families, retired ones, all from different backgrounds. You’d think that hostels are just for the ones that can’t afford a hotel, but we met some 30 something guys from New York who had their own software company who just wanted to meet people. So this is the best way to meet new cultures and socialize. In Jerusalem we met an American couple who were traveling the world and a lovely couple from the Netherlands, married for 30 years who were volunteering every year in Israel. And we heard about an 80 years old woman that was staying at the hostel and she was traveling the world for the 3rd time on her on. And it’s very nice to interact with people that have different backgrounds and cultures than yours and listen to their stories. We really enjoyed this part. There’s also free breakfast at the hostel with plenty of tea and coffee. And if you have any questions about where to go out or where to find the best food, there are the hostels’ volunteers. Some of them came from all over the world and have been staying at the hostel even for a few months, so they know their way around the city.
The hostel in Tel Aviv has 350 beds and the one in Jerusalem 250. You may think that’s a lot and it can get really loud, but that wasn’t the case. There’s a room for every budget, from 6-12 dorms to private rooms, all of them having their private bathroom. The prices starts at 18€, up to 170€ per night. Each hostel has their own laundry room, bars with happy hour, kitchen with free breakfast and rooftop terraces. And free wi-fi. That’s important because we saw many people working on their laptops and that’s always a bonus. They offer a free shuttle between the hostels so we also had that part covered. Same as the one in Tel Aviv, the hostel in Jerusalem is located in the heart of the city, only 20 minute walk to the Old City. It’s also one street away from the tram, which can get you all around the city if you’re tired of walking.
When we arrived in Jerusalem there was a workshop where you learned how to make hummus, but since we arrived later in the evening, we missed that one. They have all kind of cool activities every day, even an evening where travellers meet to tell their backpacking stories. On Fridays there’s the Shabbat (Judaism’s day of rest and seventh day of the week) and after sunset everything closes and people get ready for the Shabbat dinner. We did a cool walking tour of the Holy City that lasted about 5 hours, but we couldn’t see everything because some places were closed for tourists, but it was worth it. After the tour we had the Shabbat dinner that the hostel organized. You could arrive earlier and help the volunteers cook dinner, which we did. There were a few people helping and we helped make spring rolls. We had a lovely evening, with so much food that could feed an entire village, and a dinning hall full of people from all over the world. It was an experience that we won’t forget very soon.
We had a great time at Abraham Hostels, in both locations that we stayed at. Although they are large buildings with so many beds, you can easily meet other people and socialize. On most walls you’ll find funny and inspirational quotes. What we liked the most was the fact that both hostels were situated in central locations, within walking distance to the most important sights and it was easy for us to explore both cities. Another plus is that everyone was so friendly and helpful. And the fact that they organize so many cool tours and activities that you’d wish to spend at least a month with them is an added bonus. We browsed through their offers and saw some tours that we really liked. Maybe next time. Because there will definitely be a next time for us. We were very impressed with Israel and especially Tel Aviv. And our experience at Abraham Hostels was one of the best we had so far, so we’re looking forward to next time.
If you need more information about the hostels and the prices for each rooms, you can go to their official web site www.abrahamhostels.com