Tips to Save Money on
Lodging in the Middle East

Learn more about accommodation in the following countries.

The Middle East is known for its extremely luxurious hotels in cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi. There are exclusive resorts that are some of the most expensive in the world. These hotels offer amenities and luxurious that most travelers will never see or experience. Fortunately to travelers who are on a budget, the price range for hotels in the Middle East is quite extreme as well. Not only will you find some of the most expensive hotels, but you'll also find some of the most affordable. In countries like Syria, Iran or even Egypt, you will find guesthouses that cost a fraction of what you might expect to pay back home. Hostels are not common, but you will find some in Egypt and Israel, both of which are popular destinations for backpackers.

If you plan appropriately, your dollar can take you far. In Egypt, if you negotiate well you can get some nice hotels for a reasonable price. Alternatively, Israel is one of the most expensive countries you can travel to. You can find hostels in Old Town Jerusalem, but they can be pricey and outside of the cities you're likely to pay even more for a room.
Tips to Stretch Your Dollar
One of the most important money saving tips for traveling to the Middle East is to choose your country wisely. There are a broad range of budgets across the region based on country. Syria and Iran are two of the cheapest countries, while the UAE and Israel are two of the most expensive. Within the countries prices can range dramatically as well. Hotels in cities are often times actually cheaper than the countryside, because there are more options available, and more opportunities for you to find low cost hotels. In the rural areas you may find only one or two guesthouses that charge dramatically more than their quality implies. In some areas you may find the accommodation options are somewhat limited. This is, in part, because of the instability of the region. Hotels have difficulty staying in business when tourism ebbs and flows the way it often does in the Middle East.

It is possible to negotiate the cost of your hotel in most countries in the Middle East, particularly if you are staying in a budget style accommodation. Egypt is perhaps the most known country for aggressive bartering, but in most areas you'll benefit from trying to talk the price down a little.If you're traveling during the low season you will likely have the most luck negotiating a price. If there are a large number of rooms available, hotel managers will likely drop the price of the rooms substantially to ensure that you stay at their hotel.

There are western chain hotels in many Middle Eastern countries, most notably in Egypt, Israel, and even the major cities in Syria. You will pay more for these hotels, but you are guaranteed the comforts of home if that is what you're looking for. Some of the major hotels have a very noticeable security force in place. In most cases this is for appearance purposes only and there is little need to worry.

Prices for chain hotels in the Middle East are usually comparable, if not a little more expensive, than what you would expect to pay in western countries. The quality is usually high and the service is often times excellent, with a large number of staff members available to take care of patrons.
A Variety of Options
If you're looking for luxury, you can definitely find it in the Middle East. There are resorts that treat you like a king, and on the other end of the spectrum you can find budget accommodation that caters the most stingy backpacker. There are mid-range options that cater to budget conscious travelers who aren't backpackers, and there are chain hotels that are targeted at western businessmen and high end vacationers. Whatever style of accommodation you are looking for, you will almost always get a better value if you stay at a locally owned hotel. The money will stay in the community and the quality is usually better for the price.

If you're traveling in Egypt you can spend a few nights on a cruise ship that's navigating the Nile River. If you're in Jordan you will find very social guesthouses that often include dinner in the price of the room. Guests get to know each other as they dine on vegetarian Middle Eastern specialties that are prepared up buffet style. In Israel you'll find a few hostels in the major cities, but most are over priced. High end hotels are more the norm throughout this country.

Along the Red Sea you may find some hotel and dive shop combinations. These facilities allow you to book your dives and your room together as a package deal. This helps you save money on both ends. There are also many nice, beachfront resorts throughout the Sinai Peninsula. They're a great way to experience one of the most beautiful snorkeling and diving spots in the world.

In some areas it is possible to do a home stay as well. Inquire at the local tourism office, and they may be able to give you information on families that rent rooms out of their house. This is a great way to experience the local culture and fully understand how families live.

Throughout the Middle East you will find a range of architectural styles in the hotels that are available. Many of the boutique style hotels are located in old town settings and have the old world architecture that many people associate with the Middle East. These hotels usually offer the most character, and are the best option if you're looking for a unique and special setting. Despite their charm, they are often housed in old buildings. There are often some quirks that you must adjust to. The shape of the room may be odd, the shower may be unusual, and the walls may be a little dated. Most of the newer hotels are housed in modern buildings. These modern facilities are usually located in a newer part of town in an area that lacks some of the old world charm. What you loose in charm, you make up for in amenities. Some newer hotels have pools, restaurants, and even spas if you choose to splurge. Before selecting a hotel it is a good idea to prioritize what is important to you and seriously consider the location. These are all important factors in making sure you choose the right place to stay.

Not all facilities throughout the Middle East are equipped with air conditioning. If you're traveling during the hotter times of the year, air conditioning can be an absolute must. You will likely have to pay significantly more for a room with AC, but in many cases it is well worth it.
Affordability by Country
Most visitors who go to the Middle East head to Egypt. This country offers every form of accommodation you could need, from backpacker hostels to high end resorts. The prices are reasonable and it is one of the more affordable countries in the area, in large part because of the strong competition and broad range of options available to tourists. You should always negotiate prices in Egypt. Cut the asking price by at least have. Making reservations will ensure you pay more for your room, but it will give some travelers peace of mind to know they have a place reserved in advance.

Two of the cheapest countries you can visit in the Middle East are Iran and Syria. Both countries have hotels that are very affordable, but no true hostels are available. If you're a solo traveler you will likely have to pay the same amount for a room that a couple does. For this reason it's a good idea to pair up with another traveler and split the cost of the room. You can often negotiate the price down slightly, particularly if you're staying at a budget hotel. During the low season in particular the hotel owners may give you a good deal.

Israel and the UAE are two of the more expensive countries to visit in the area. Israel gets many tourists, but the price of the hotels remains quite high. Although there are hostels available in the more touristy areas, they are often in poor condition and many do not have air conditioning. The dorms often have a large number of beds and are overcrowded and hot. Still, you will pay more for these beds than you would in Western Europe. In particular, make sure you do not visit Israel during a holiday. The prices will increase dramatically, there will be a very limited amount of space, and public transportation will get overcrowded. Most hostels and hotels in Israel are not negotiable in price. You will pay slightly less during the low season, but this discount is already built into the price. In rural areas you may be able to convince them to lower the price slightly, but this is very rare.

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