Across the Middle East, Iran and Egypt have the cheapest accommodation, while Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, and Israel and the Palestinian Territories will cost more.
- Hotels Hotels are everywhere. Even in smaller towns, there'll be a hotel, although choice may be limited. There's everything from artfully converted boutique hotels to Mediterranean resorts.
- Hostels You'll find a handful of hostels in larger towns and cities wherever tourists tend to congregate.
- Kibbutz guesthouses An Israeli speciality, with good locations and atmosphere.
- Camping Camping is possible in some countries, but it would be difficult build a trip around solely staying in campgrounds.
Camping in the Middle East is possible, but stick to officially sanctioned campsites – free camping is fraught with peril and prone to creating misunderstandings: many areas that are military or restricted zones aren’t always marked as such, and erecting a tent on an army firing range won’t be a highlight of your trip. There are official camping grounds in Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, and Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
There are youth hostels in Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Territories, and Lebanon. It’s not usually necessary to hold a Hostelling International card to stay at these places, but it will often get you a small discount.
Along what's left of the old İstanbul-to-Cairo traveller route, you'll also find non-HI backpacker hostels, especially in Lebanon, Israel and Egypt. These are often dynamic hubs for travellers, with plenty of information on local attractions.
In hotels at the bottom end of the price scale, rooms are not always clean. In fact, let’s be honest: they can be downright filthy. Very cheap hotels are just dormitories where you’re crammed into a room with whoever else fronts up. The cheapest places are rarely suitable for women travelling alone. In Iran, male-dominated mosaferkhanehs (literally ‘travellers’ houses’) are basic hotels with dorms; expect shared bathrooms, squat toilets and no spoken English.
That said, elsewhere in the region there are some places that stand out, and while they may have no frills, nor do their shared bathrooms give any indication of the good health or otherwise of previous occupants. Some places treat you like a prince even as you pay the price of a pauper. The happy (and most common) medium is usually a room devoid of character, but containing basic, well-maintained facilities.
Midrange rooms have private bathrooms, usually with hot water, fans to stir the air, a bit more space to swing a backpack and (sometimes) TVs promising international satellite channels. These places are found throughout the region, with cities along well-worn traveller routes usually having the widest choice.
Hotels at the top end of the range have clean, self-contained rooms with hot showers and toilets that work all the time, not to mention satellite TV, shampoo and regularly washed towels in the bathrooms, air-con to provide refuge from the Middle Eastern sun and a few luxuries to lift the spirits.
An increasing (and entirely welcome) trend is the proliferation of tastefully designed boutique hotels that make a feature of traditional design.
Capitalising on their beautiful, usually rural locations, quite a few kibbutzim in Israel offer midrange guesthouse accommodation. Often constructed in the socialist era but significantly upgraded since, these establishments allow access to kibbutz facilities (including the swimming pool), have a laid-back vibe and serve deliciously fresh kibbutz-style breakfasts. For details and reservations, check out the Kibbutz Hotels Chain (www.kibbutz.co.il).