Accommodation in Jordan (at least between Amman and Aqaba) covers everything from cheap hostels over Bedouin tents to exclusive hotels. Prices are relatively low, certainly compared to Israel next door. I traveled off-season where single hotel rooms in Amman are available for under $20 and in Wadi Musa (Petra) for just a little more. A bed in a hostel dorm is available for under $10, but don’t expect anything fancy.
There are plenty of options available, both on Booking.com and on AirBnB, and adventurous types won’t have any problems finding locals spontaneously offering their house, tent or cave to sleep in (or their mom’s or their cousins). Here is a short list of the places I stayed in during my travels in Jordan, all were booked via Booking.com.
Jordan River Hotel, Amman
The Jordan River Hotel is a convenient place if you just want to crash somewhere for a night or two. It’s not suited for light sleepers or winter stay. Tip: Book the dorm for a better deal.
My first accommodation in Jordan seemed like a great deal on paper: only $20*/night for a large single downtown on King Hussein Street. It was raining and freezing cold. In fact, on my first evening the room was so cold I sat in my bed and saw my breath. Eventually, I asked about heating and was told I needed to pay an extra fee ($3) for the remote to the A/C unit. But the size of my room along with the thin, drafty windows made it almost impossible to get the room up to a decent temperature.
Other than the heating issue, Hany and Laila, the managers of the Jordan River, were lovely. Hany had info & tips for where to eat well and at a low price (Abu Zeghleh) and how to get anywhere in the country by public bus. He even offered me different rooms so I could find the quietest one. However, I could not bear the thought of sleeping without a window for five nights. So I opted for the room with the highway right outside the window.
Cleanliness was not a top priority. Everything was spotless when I arrived. But there was absolutely no cleaning during my stay, not even the toilet paper bin in the shared bathroom was emptied.
The WiFi speed was not exhilarating but fine.
Since there were not many guests at the hotel in December, I was able to snoop around and realized that the dorm (which stood empty the whole time I was there) is the quietest room in the place because it is the only one facing the back of the house.
Breakfast was not included in my rate. But for $1.50/day I got a filling mix of local zatter pita and bread with European spreads, prepared by Leila.
Still, the breakfast was not enough to make me forget the cold and the noise. So I moved on after only three nights, forsaking the remaining two.
Madaba Hotel, Madaba
The Madaba Hotel looks like a nice hotel/hostel option for March to November. In winter, it was a great bargain but with limited service.
Disappointed by the Jordan River Hotel, I opted for the cheapest possible option in Madaba. For $7.50/night I booked a dorm bed with breakfast.
And I hit a jackpot: The dorm turned out to have only two beds, one of which was empty.
The dorms were adjacent to the common room, a big lounge with a TV and plush couches, where the manager also hung out. The A/C was blasting out heat all day. It wasn’t strong enough for the large space. But at least it was not freezing.
However, the shared kitchen was. So there was no thinking of cooking a meal. Luckily, the Downtown restaurant across the street next to Pilgrim’s Guest House served delicious Jordanian food for $6 per generous serving.
Breakfast was not only served by the manager putting stuff onto the table the night before and guests helping themselves, it was also served in the freezing kitchen, which made it a very unpleasant experience.
After the hectic noise in Amman, Madaba seemed like a quiet retreat. I recommend it as a base to explore northern Jordan and the Dead Sea as well as an overnight option coming from/heading to the airport. The distance is about the same as to Amman but you spare yourself thick traffic.
The Madaba Hotel has rooms on two floors and a roof terrace right in the center of the oldest part of town in walking distance to all the mosaics. Unfortunately, in winter there was not much happening in the hotel itself and travel advice I received from the staff was limited to hiring a driving for me and another guest to tour the Dead Sea, Dana Reserve, Shobak castle on my way to Wadi Musa. I do not recommend that driver as I practically had to beg him to stop anywhere and he clearly didn’t know where would be good to stop. For tours from Madaba, I recommend talking to the Mariam Hotel (they also pool individuals looking for shared tours).
Where to stay during your visit to Petra
With more than 40+ different accommodations listed on Booking.com along, here’s a quick overview of your options.
- Right outside the main gate: Here you’ll find a selection a hotels/hostels for a range of budgets. The advantage is the location — be it for early morning excursions or for not having to climb the steep road into downtown Wadi Musa after a day of exploring; the disadvantage is that shops and food down here are rather expensive.
- Uptown i.e. on the hill: The end of Tourism Street has it all — hostels/hotels for different budgets, affordable food, and the bus station is also up here. Petra can be reached in about 15 minutes on foot. Taxis cost JOD1 to Petra and around JOD5 back to the hotel (depending on your bargaining skills, you should be able to reduce that to JOD2 off-season). It’s where I stayed.
- Outside Wadi Musa: There are some upscale hotels along the scenic route to Wadi Rum with fantastic views of the mountains in and around Petra. If you have a car, you can also look for more local accommodation.
Seven Wonders Hotel, Wadi Musa (Petra)
The Seven Wonders Hotel is a relatively new hotel in a convenient uptown location but with modern amenities but some kinks starting to show.
Since it was Christmas, I wanted to treat myself during my visit to Petra and checked into what was arguably the hotel with the most amenities in my 2 weeks in Jordan. At $40/night for the double room, The Seven Wonders isn’t very expensive (not in December) and sharing with Gabriela from Gabriela Here and There brought the price down to west European hostel prices, albeit without breakfast.
The location in the upper part of Wadi Musa means descending and scaling the steep hill to/from Petra but also easy access to cheaper eateries, shopping, and the bus station. Click here for my comprehensive Petra/Wadi Musa guide.
The plush carpet of the Seven Wonders Hotel and the strong A/C heating unit in a small room were a nice reprieve from the cold and rain.
Even better, there is a spa downstairs with what the hotel claims is the biggest Turkish bath in Jordan (daily fee of $50).
During the summer, a rooftop pool offers refreshment with a view.
Breakfast and dinner can be eaten at the restaurant in the lobby area, which was, however, sparsely visited and even more sparsely lit in December.
While on the outside the hotel was a great find, there were a couple of maintenance lacks showing: When I arrived, the TV and nightlight weren’t working and were swapped with working specimen from other rooms. There were few plugs to begin with and two of them had loose connections. The water in the showers wasn’t always hot. During the last two days, the WiFi speed went down considerably.
The staff was attentive but not very competent: They were able to get good taxi/driver deals but had no idea whether restaurants in town would be open during Christmas.
Cleopetra Hotel, Wadi Musa (Petra)
The Cleopetra Hotel is a guidebook favorite offering solid budget accommodation plus tour services.
I spent my last two nights in Wadi Musa in the Cleopetra, practically next door to the Seven Wonders in uptown Wadi Musa with the same easy access to eateries, shopping, and the bus station. Click here for my comprehensive Petra/Wadi Musa guide.
I booked a small double for single use with ensuite bathroom for $23/night including simple breakfast. I mentioned my light sleep in the comments and the manager made sure I stayed in the quietest part of the house — towards the back and on the top floor.
There was not much more space in the room than needed for a bed and my big backpack, which meant the A/C had no problems heating it. The WiFi was not free ($3/stay) and slow — I was told that the hotels buy packages that tend to run out at the end of the month — but the shower was hot at all times of day.
The common areas are limited to a small lounge and an adjacent small dining room, which I imagine will get cramped in high season. There is a small shared kitchen but I opted to stick to my usual falafel and hummus joints.
The Cleopetra has made it into the Lonely Planet, which means even off-season it’s better booked than other places in town and lots of (German) backpackers will happily entertain you with their travel stories.
This hotel/hostel is a family affair with the elderly uncles sitting in the lounge inviting everyone to Bedouin tea and coffee, the cousin running a tight breakfast regime, and the nephew handling reception in-between his Tourism studies at Aqaba University.
Like all the other Bedouins you’ll meet around Petra, the family is well-connected and tours, drivers, and accommodation in other parts of Jordan are easily organized via the front desk.
*For convenience, I’m listing prices in this post in US-$. $1.50=JOD1