There are more accommodation options in Jerusalem than meet the eye. Of course, it should come as no surprise that a city with over 5,000 years of inhabited history has many interesting hotels. As you plan your stay in Jerusalem, look past some of the more famous names and you'll find some great places to stay that will afford you a more unusual experience and cost you less money, too.
If it's fun to stay at the YMCA, in Jerusalem it'll save you money, too. The Three Arches Hotel is at the center of The Jerusalem International YMCA, which was designed by Shreve, Lamb, and Harmon -- the same architectural firm that designed the Empire State Building. Opened in 1933, the place preserves an Art Deco flavor, lending character to nice, no-nonsense lodgings almost directly across the street from the more famous (and far more expensive) King David Hotel. There's also a pool and restaurant.
The Mount Zion Hotel exudes a boutique hotel atmosphere in a great location, within view of Old City walls and next to the Jerusalem Cinematheque. There are 117 guest rooms, 20 suites, and outdoor pool as well as spa and fitness facilities. The original stone building has the most romantic lodging options, while the independent villa takes atmosphere to the next level.
This charming new hotel is located in the Ein Kerem section of Jerusalem, the reputed birthplace of John the Baptist. It has only seven rooms, in an old stone house which, according to co-owner architect Gadi Dalman, "was built for Alegra, the daughter of an Orthodox Jew from Jerusalem, who fell in love with a wealthy Arab Christian merchant."
Each of the seven spacious luxurious guestrooms is named for a legendary couple. A gourmet restaurant features a long central dining table, seating up to ten, that faces an open kitchen. Breakfast and six-course dinners are served.
At first glance, the Notre Dame Guest House, part of the Pontifical Institute of Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center, looks like something out of a fairy tale. Its ornate twin turrets invite dreams of yore. But unknown to many, this pilgrimage center also houses 150 clean, no-frills guestrooms, some with unexpected architectural flourishes.
The center recently saw the addition of a rooftop Wine & Cheese Restaurant, from which, according to Father Juan Maria Solana, "the view is awesome."
The hospice was founded in 1857 and was also the residence of the Austrian Consul in Jerusalem. Its role as a center for pilgrims was interrupted by the world wars but was restored to Austrian ownership in the 1980s.
Today the Austrian Hospice offers both traditional guestrooms and dormitory-style accommodation. Prices are far below what you'll pay at Jerusalem's bigger and better-known hotels and best of all, the location in the heart of the Old City -- not many hotels can boast a Via Dolorosa address, but this one does (no. 37) -- puts you almost literally at the doorstep of some of Israel's most famous historical and religious sights.