With the news that Monarch Airlines are expanding its destination list to Tel Aviv and Ovuda in Israel, the doors have opened for London holidaymakers to explore the country even more.
Ovda is a 45-minute drive to the beach resort of Eilat. Up to now the resort has been popular with domestic holidaymakers and Eastern Europeans, but now it looks set for a potential British invasion as Londoners can now fly direct. The new offering means that you won’t yet see The Sun in any shops, and as such we advise you to get in there quick before this changes.
So to welcome the resort to our ever-expanding choice of holiday destinations, we’ve got the lowdown on the resort, complete with questions you didn’t even know you wanted to ask.
Where exactly is Eilat?
It’s located at the southmost tip of Israel, sharing its Red Sea coastline with Egypt and Jordan. The city is relatively isolated, being 300km from Jerusalem and 350km from Tel Aviv.
What’s the weather like?
This is the clincher – it’s beautiful all year around. During the winter months, temperatures fall down to the low-20s, and in the hot summer months they climb to the 40s. But as the air is fresh and not humid, it feels cooler on the skin.
What is there to do?
TBH, Eilat isn’t known for its high culture. In fact its major appeal is the relatively low costs and the beach, and it attracts clientele who are interested in exactly that. So that sun-soaking and booze are the order of the day.
However if you look for them, there are plenty of other activities. There’s excellent diving and snorkelling opportunities due to its 1km coral reef – but if you’re not a water baby, the underwater observatory takes you through the marvellous reef without having to get wet.
You can also get a bucket list box ticked off as there’s opps to swim with dolphins, or for the land-inclined, the Red Canyon is ideal for hikers/climbers who are after an unusual challenge.
Is it safe to go there?
Yeah, about that… gov.uk suggests there’s a high risk of terrorism, thanks to Israeli occupation of Palestine. But Eilat is at the opposite end of Israel to the Gaza Strip (and Syria, for that matter), if that makes you feel better.
Are there luxury hotels?
Yes indeedy. The resort has 12 five-star hotels, though we question whether a couple of them are the same quality as five stars elsewhere in the world. We like Herods Vitalis Spa (prices from £250 a night), which is ideal for spa fiends and foodies, as both are of the highest quality. If you can splash out a little extra, you’ll get an incredible view of the Red Sea every morning.
What’s the nightlife like?
Expect the cabaret shows and bad live music that comes with beach resorts – there’s no getting away from it, even on the edges of Israel. But there are certainly clubs, bars and pubs that party until the early hours – if you befriend the right people you could even be taken to a rave in the desert. Now that’s something worth writing home about.
Are there budget hotels?
Why, of course. If you’re not fussy about where you lay your head, you can get a decent motel room for £35 a night.
Is it good for vegetarians?
Yes, in as much as Middle Eastern food lends itself to veggies, with falafel, hummus, baba ganoush, cous cous and lentils often on the menu.