When planning a trip exclusively with points and miles, you have to get creative when you’re trying to stay in a place without major international hotel chains. Such was the case for our Christmas Eve overnight trip to Bethlehem. Options were limited, and we were going on the busiest day of the year for Bethlehem. But after some searching, I found Ararat Hotel and was able to book for free with the points from Bank of America Travel Rewards.
Ararat Hotel | From $70/night
Location: The hotel is located on the western edge of Bethlehem. It’s reasonably close to Manger Square, however, it’s at the bottom of a hill with the Square at the top. It’s about a 15 minute walk uphill to get the square, which was pretty laborious, so we relied on taxis more often than not. Going downhill wasn’t as bad. A taxi ride shouldn’t run more than 20 shekels ($5).
Rooms: Our room was located on the 10th floor of the property and had a nice view out over the city and into the desert beyond. Upon arrival we found our room a bit chilly, but the heater quickly warmed it up to a comfortable temp.
The decor was sparse but sufficient, which might be a good way to describe the property in general. The hotel checks a lot of boxes for amenities you’d expect from a solid 3.5 star hotel, but it’s as if they stopped just short from fully implementing everything. Given economic conditions in the West Bank, one might not blame them for cutting a few corners.
In the end, everything suited our needs just fine, with the exception of the breakfast buffet, which was disappointing. The room was sterile and uninviting, and the food was decidedly subpar.
Wi-fi was available free in the lobby and in room for a small fee (about 20 shekels/$5).
Staff: The staff of Ararat was friendly and attentive, answering the questions we had on getting around with courtesy and enthusiasm, and thoroughly covering the included amenities. Security outside the hotel were always opening doors or hailing taxis for us. Everyone seemed to genuine want us to have the best stay possible, even if it were only just for a night.
In conclusion: Ararat Hotel could be a nice property for travelers to Bethlehem to stay at, but presently feels “unfinished.” If you’re looking to save a few bucks over a more expensive option closer to Manger Square, it’s definitely a comfortable option. Just be prepared to spend money on taxis or hike uphill a lot, and don’t expect a lot of polish. The friendly staff and reasonable price make up for the shortcomings.
Be sure to check out the rest of our posts about our trip to Israel and get inspired to start planning your own trip!
How We Took a Three-Week Trip to the Holy Land for Less Than $300 Per Person
Itinerary and Price Breakdown: Christmas in the Holy Land
A Guide to Spending Christmas in Bethlehem