International Travel: Bed and Breakfast or Hotel

Thus far my overseas travel portfolio as far as overnight stays only applies to one nation and that is Israel.  However, I have experienced traveling there staying in a hotel and staying in a bed and breakfast.  This review is just my personal view as well as travel tips concerning both.  On our first trip to Israel our entire stay with the exception of one overnight stay in a Kibbutz in Dimona was in a hotel.  The location was perfect as this hotel was literally only a few feet from the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem.  This made traveling the land as a native extremely easy and so for the location I would say this was a pretty good choice.  This is basically where the buck stops as it relates to staying in a hotel versus a bed and breakfast.  The cost to stay in the hotel was roughly $89 a night and to stay in a bed and breakfast $25 a night.

Our hotel suite provided us more space then the average hotel room would as we did have a miniature refrigerator, a living room and dining table area which is an excellent space for guest with a beautiful view of the city.  These amenities were nice to have, and staying in Israel means that any spot you stay in will be beaming with character, fortunately this is a trait that either a hotel or bed and breakfast will provide.  Having said that the benefit of a bed and breakfast is that you have access to a kitchen, which will include some sort of cooking surface apparatus, a full size refrigerator, and occasionally laundry area both of which are excellent amenities if you keep the Sabbath or plan to stay for more than a few days in the country.

The other bonus to staying in a bed and breakfast is the personal connection you get to make with the host.  Having a host that is dedicated to a few customers will always be more valuable than a hotel concierge who must see about the needs of potentially hundreds of guests.  Not to mention a host is an invaluable resource to not just helping you get around affordably as a native, but helping you learn how to maneuver the area safely and can help you truly understand the culture from the eyes of a local.  Especially if they speak both English and Hebrew or Arabic this means you have a translator just within a few feet of view, and all this for a price of between $25 and $39 per night.  No hotel in Jerusalem will be able to compete with a deal that good or provide that personal touch.

Living in the U.S. bed and breakfast has a different meaning.  We are used to victorian style homes which are beaming with character, but usually consists of uniquely designed rooms which may or may not include a private bathroom, and also means sharing the home with other strangers while the host makes you breakfast downstairs.  Well, my experience overseas has been somewhat different as no one has made us breakfast and occasionally you’ll find fresh eggs in the refrigerator and home made bread that may be dropped off outside your door, but you will be cooking the eggs yourself and you have your own private apartment that you don’t have to share any of the common area with others.  Obviously, the second image is usually more desirable then the first and unless you choose to share a space with strangers will be the likely accommodations you will receive.  For the reasons mentioned in the U.S. bed and breakfast is not quite as popular yet as resort and hotel accommodations.  However, in my albeit limited experience I was pleasantly delighted with the value and the security I felt living in the residential area of the land.  Staying in a bed and breakfast is not as easy to choose as perhaps a hotel will be.  Admittedly you do probably take more of a risk choosing this option as they will not come with the plethora of reviews that one will find for hotels which have been usually established for years and decades.  However, there are a couple of reliable websites that will give you some reviews that are usually very thorough and provide lots of pictures and details so that you can make an informed decision about where you choose to stay.

There are two companies that we used in order to secure our bed and breakfast, and although there are others available online and I plan to write reviews on the other I mentioned in this article I will only give a review of the ones I actually used which includes:

airbnbFunctions much like a social media community that focuses on everything traveling accept flight purchasing.  While securing accommodations is its primary purpose it also provides you with information and options to purchase experiences along the way.  I have yet to purchase any tours from there so this review will be mainly on my experience using them for accommodations.  I just recently booked a room for national travel, but will have to update you about that experience later on.  Airbnb is a good place to start because it is like a well established neighborhood, it has been in this space for a while now and as a result have lots of options for you to choose from.  The pricing is fair just make sure that you read the sites thoroughly the price for the actual room is one thing and that can be alluring but these services also include other fees that can drive your overall price up higher then the per day quote.  However, you will know before you pay what you will owe.  They also take the money out immediately after you reserve the location.  Another excellent feature of using this platform is you have access to the host before and obviously after you secure your accommodations to ask them whatever questions you need.  This operates much the way e-mail does so it is fairly self explanatory.  Get updates through the Airbnb app on your phone.  As soon as your host has sent you a message it will come directly to your phone.  Giving you real time information as needed for your trip.

Recently Airbnb has made some changes to its privacy policy as well as security policy.  Host’s can request pictures of your personal information such as government issued identification (i.e. drivers license).  In my opinion this information should not be required, however, you have to decide for yourself whether or not this is a deal breaker.  Not all hosts require this additional information so shop around and you may find some that don’t, with a price you’re willing to pay.

A note on security, like ebay and any other platform that relies on positive feedback to continue to thrive, Airbnb operates much the same way.  People typically leave feedback when they have stayed in these places and rest assured if its not a new listing and people have stayed there with a complaint this spot will be the first place they make known their problems.  Be mindful when you read though of the age or purpose of the visit if this information is provided by the one giving a review.  For instance, a couple may be looking for different things then a few college students on vacation backtracking through Israel.  Their assessment of a property will not necessarily measure up to the experience you desire to have.  So try to find reviews if available that are very detailed and specifically take in consideration the date of their stay especially if multiple reviews are listed, and details like if this was a couple, a family, or a college students review.  This will help give you a balanced view of the review so that you can book with your eyes wide open.  I personally won’t stay in a place that has no photos available for me to view.  I also will not book if the only pictures are pictures of the surrounding area, you will find pictures of what might be views from the property, but none of the property.

Also, always be sure to read the cancellation policy and the house rules before you book. Another important point to consider is make sure that when searching criteria that you specify if you have a preference concerning sharing a space, renting a private room, or entire home.  There are some really good prices out there no matter which you choose but if you are looking for a space that will accommodate two people and it is a 6 bedroom apartment for $20.00 for instance then more then likely this is for a private room in a house rather then you having the entire house.  This is not necessarily a problem, just be aware that this may mean sharing a bathroom with someone else, and if you don’t have a private key to your room could also be a security concern.  Whenever we have booked we have been sure to look specifically for properties rented as “entire home/apartment” and my review is based on renting an entire space.

ebc3273565b5e682ccaf01872d2e046749306442If you’re not completely sold out on doing a bed and breakfast then is an excellent resource to consider.  This will not limit you to bed and breakfast properties, but will allow you to shop a whole host of different properties from hotels, resorts, airbnb’s, or whatever is available to be rented you can pretty much get.  Functioning more like Expedia or like many commercial online travel sites this website allows for you to see all the options available in a given area with whatever your criteria is from price range to ratings.  Another great feature is many of the properties that you search from here do not require payment for reservations and typically will offer more flexible cancellation policies.  Booking also unlike Airbnb does not provide an option for renting a room for an apartment as far as I have seen the entire space was rented out which means you don’t have to concern yourself with the possibility of renting a space that has unexpected strangers sharing your common areas.  However, as far as bed and breakfast properties go you won’t find quite as many as you will with Airbnb so I would highly recommend that you shop both before making your final decision.

Also, also offers a phone app that will help you to keep track of any of your reservations and make changes as necessary with your own secure account much like Airbnb your personal information is kept safe and secure.  Rest easy knowing that your vacation is booked and there is nothing left for you to do but to pack and go.
The Critique is working on a comprehensive video that will give you step by step instructions and is available with workbook that will show you how to get the most out of your Holy Land trip at an affordable price.  Under The Jerusalem Sun will be a must have item for planning a trip to the Holy Land and with a video download price of $20 you can’t beat it, or purchase a bundle and get the downloadable workbook that includes fill in the blank checklists and worksheets to make each step of the process easy to follow, order the bundle for only $39.99.  Unfortunately, the documentary is not ready, but will be soon.


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