Staying Outside Jerusalem’s Old City for the First Time

Jerusalem is my favorite city in the world. It is powerful, it is complicated and it is enthralling. Every time that I’ve visited Jerusalem since I first traveled to Israel in 2008, I’ve stayed in its Old City, a massive walled area in East Jerusalem, home to some of the world’s most important religious and historical sites.

My last visit to Jerusalem was different.

Colorful lobby of Abraham Hostel

At the invitation of Abraham Hostel, I for the first time ever, stayed outside the Old City in West Jerusalem. This was an entirely different experience from my previous stays, not only culturally, as I was in the midst of the Jewish population of West Jerusalem rather than the Palestinian population which inhabits East Jerusalem, but also insofar as my experience with my accommodation. Abraham Hostel is the fifth place I’ve stayed in Jerusalem and is actually the best.

The location of this hostel is an absolutely ideal gateway to the rest of the city. It is located directly on Jaffa Street, immediately along the lines of the city’s new light rail system. Jump on the tram and step off at Hadavidka and you’ll see Abraham Hostel is right there.

Jaffa Street in Jerusalem

My favorite part of Jerusalem, the Old City, is just a 15-minute walk south on Jaffa Street, and the Central Bus station, which will take you anywhere in Israel you want to go, is just a 15-minute walk north. Abraham Hostel is right in the middle of all the action.

Jaffa Street right outside the hostel doors, with its outdoor cafes, restaurants and shops is somewhere you need to visit when you go to Jerusalem. Mahane Yehuda market is just a five-minute walk north up Jaffa Street, and is a lively outdoor area selling fruits, vegetables, clothes and the amazing sweet treat Israeli Halva. This is something you have to try when you travel to Jerusalem.

Abraham Hostel is quite large, with three floors of 72 en suite rooms, both private and dorms. Open only since November 2010, this hostel has quickly become very popular and was quite full during my stay. Ordinarily I’d prefer to stay in a smaller place with fewer people, but this place has a spacious lobby, huge common room and other sitting areas, so that, although there were many people there, it never seemed crowded.

Guy playing pool in the common room

Sitting area with leather chairs

One of the things that endeared Abraham Hostel most to me was that they don’t want you to just come and stay and pay for your room and go fend for yourself outside its doors. They have a movie night, a pub crawl night, a live music night, a ton of tours in Jerusalem as well as the rest of Israel and even into Jordan and Egypt. One of their Jerusalem tours is a free tour of the Old City, which every first-time traveler to Jerusalem really should take.

Board of events at Abraham Hostel

I went on an absolutely fascinating all-day tour of the West Bank city of Hebron, which caused me to realize that it might be the most complicated city on earth. I will be writing a post about this soon.

Abraham Hostel also offers a Friday night Shabbat dinner, an Israeli tradition which marks the start of the Sabbath day each week. Guests are invited to help cook the meal, which consists of a huge variety of local dishes.

Salad for Shabbat

I suggested to co-owner Yaron that they open their Shabbat dinners to people who aren’t staying at the hostel, but he said they want to keep it as small and personal as possible so their guests can enjoy it more.

Large dishes of food for Shabbat dinner

There is also food served daily in the well-stocked bar area, including pizza (which was very good) and nachos, which are hard to find in the Middle East.

My room had a thin yet comfortable bed and was absolutely pristine. In fact, this is the cleanest hostel I’ve ever stayed at. It was dead silent, save for the pleasant clanging of the bell on the streetcars outside. I never even heard voices in the hallway or anyone’s door shutting.

Private en suite corner room

My room also had one unexpected perk. It was unseasonably cold, rainy and windy in Jerusalem during my stay, so I was very happy to discover that there was a functioning heater on the wall.

This is not something you can say about accommodations in the Old City.

I expected to see mostly younger people at the hostel, since I knew it was a happening place. Surprisingly about half of the guests were over 40. Everyone seemed to be having a good time and I could see that clearly, young or old, the party type or the go to bed at 9:00 type (like me) Abraham Hostel is the place to stay.

Stop working, start traveling

Abraham Hostel gave me a complimentary stay during my past visit to Jerusalem, but all opinions are my own.

7 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Yay, now I know of an easy-to-reach great place to stay in Jerusalem when my friend gets married if Plan A doesn’t pan out. Your post reminded me a lot of what I loved about hostels in Argentina and the US. Gotta say I think this is either the most food or almost most food I’ve ever seen served in a hostel. Looks like they invest a lot in that meal. And now it makes me hungry :)
    Ayelet – All Colores recently posted..The Surprising Walk to the Devil’s ThroatMy Profile

  2. Sabina says:

    Ayelet, I think they do invest a lot in the food as well as the hostel itself and their tours. This is really a smoothly run operation. I do hope you’ll be able to stay there for the wedding or at some other time. You will undoubtedly love it :)

  3. vinothsen says:

    photos are fresh .
    Particularly the second from last is a green vegetable salad . mouth watering. the travel blog is very informative.
    vinothsen recently posted..Advanced web programming trainingMy Profile

  4. Sabina says:

    Hi, Vinothsen, thanks a lot. There were a ton of salads at the Shabbat dinner, all delicious. Maybe you’ll be able to come to Jerusalem some day and try them for yourself. :)

  5. Jerusalem has always been a place I really want to visit. Hearing your opinions and seeing these images make me want to go even more. When I go, I will definitely stay in the Old City.
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  6. wow, amazing shots! Such beautiful colors & details…very nice!
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  7. Beautiful place! I didn’t go there before. Listening to your experience and seeing these pictures create me want to go even more. When I go, I will definitely remain in the Old Town. Thanks for sharing this.

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