Eilat’s accommodation ranges from the good to the bad to the downright ugly – this is not a place to expect a charming or unique hotel experience. As is the case with most resort towns, the cost of hotel rooms rises by about 25% at weekends and 50% (or more) during Israeli school holidays and in July/August.
Reserve ahead during these times. The prices we have cited in our reviews are at the higher end of the mid-season range. If you enjoy staying in five-star chain hotels, you’ll be spoiled for choice. There are more than 50 options around the lagoons at North Beach and along the road to Taba, including nine Isrotels, two Dan Hotels and seven hotels in the Leonardo/Herod group. Most have bland decor, restaurants where the fixed-price buffet reigns supreme, large pool areas and decent but not exceptional levels of service.
All are predominantly geared towards families and can be noisy. Many of the recently opened hotels in town are in less-than-salubrious locations overlooking the airport or behind the lagoons or Hayam Shopping Mall – do your location research before booking. Light sleepers should note that the North Beach promenade is noisy well into the wee small hours, and most of the town’s hotels are directly under the flight path for Eilat Airport. Camping is illegal on most of Eilat’s beaches. Exceptions are the areas east of Herod’s Beach, towards the Jordanian border.
Arava Hostel (08-637 4687; http://www.a55.co.il; 106 Almogim St; dm/s/d 70/200/220NIS)
The only Eilat hostel with an authentic backpacker vibe, the Arava wouldn’t win any awards for its dated rooms and dark, cramped dorms or for its location far from the beach. There are compensations, though: a front garden perfect for sunset beers, communal kitchen, laundry (15NIS per load) and free parking. Internet costs 16NIS per hour; wi-fi is free. Note that the prices we have given here apply for most of the year but almost double in July and August.
Motel Aviv (08-637 4660; http://www.avivhostel.co.il; 126 Ofarim Lane; dm/r 100/300NIS, small/large ste 350/500NIS)
It may have an institutional feel, but the Aviv is clean, secure and in proud possession of a small swimming pool. Standard rooms are cramped and dark – we suggest opting for a suite as some have sea views and all offer better value for money. Note that breakfast isn’t served and dorm beds aren’t available in summer.
Eilat Youth Hostel & Guest House (02-594 5605; http://www.iyha.org.il; 7 Ha-Arava Rd; dm/s/d 130/292/400NIS)
If it weren’t for the ubiquitous groups of noisy schoolkids staying here, this huge hostel with its expansive front balcony overlooking the Gulf of Eilat would be one of our top accommodation picks. Even with the school-group factor in play, it’s an extremely attractive option due to its modern, clean and comfortable rooms and dorms. Free parking and wi-fi; internet 1NIS per minute.
Blue Hotel (08-632 6601; http://www.bluehotel.co.il; 123 Ofarim Lane; s weekday/weekend 305/350NIS, d weekday/weekend 360/420NIS)
Run by a friendly Israeli/Irish couple, this three-star choice is located in a characterless budget accommodation enclave near the city center but is worth considering for its well-priced, recently renovated rooms with excellent amenities (fridge, cable TV, kettle). There are bicycles for hire and guests receive discounts on diving packages with the Reef Diving Group.
Soleil Boutique Hotel (08-633 4004; http://www.soleil-hoteleilat.com; 12 Tarshish St; s/d/ste 420/500/680NIS)
Its size (only 70 rooms) and stylish decor give credence to this recently opened hotel’s claim to boutique status, but its location overlooking the runway at Eilat Airport falls well short. That said, the reasonable prices, proximity to North Beach and facilities including a bar, restaurant, spa, gym and pool make it worthy of consideration.
Orchid Reef Hotel (08-636 4444; http://www.reefhoteleilat.com; Coral Beach; r standard/sea view/superior sea view 620/730/1050NIS)
Recently refurbished, this place overlooks a lovely stretch of sand right next to the Coral Reef Nature Reserve. It has a huge pool area, fitness room, spa and restaurant. Beach activities include snorkeling and sea kayaking, and bike hire is free (parking costs 25NIS per day). The comfortable rooms are spacious and most have a balcony or terrace with sea view.