I’ve written up lots of stories from my 10 days backpacking in Iraq but I have yet to cover all of my hotel stays there so expect me to write about them all at some point. I recently wrote about the Parlaman Hotel which is the nearest thing Iraq has to a Backpacker’s Hostel at the moment. You might not know what to expect when backpacking through Iraqi Kurdistan, a region which is beautiful but sadly torn apart by war. During our time in the country we toured shiny Duhok, glorious Amadiya, Sulav, Erbil and up and coming Sulimaniyeh as well as a few other parts. The last hotel we stayed in was the budget Bikhal Hotel in Erbil, one of the biggest cities in Iraq and the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, housing 1.3 million people.
The Bikhal Hotel doesn’t have a website or a Facebook page – tourism and backpacking in Iraq has yet to go mainstream while the country is still at war. So to find this place, you head to the Bazaar in Erbil. The Bazaar is in the downtown area near the fountain and at the foot of the famous Citadel.
Here are five things we liked about our stay in the Bikhal Hotel in Erbil.
1. Cheap – Backpacker’s Budget
The price of a bed at the Bikhal is hard to beat – we paid 40,000 Iraqi Dinars per night for a double room with an ensuite. This works out around £20 British Pounds, so £10 each. This is the real backpacker’s gem in the city. It’s the nearest thing Erbil gets to a hostel and it means you avoid the swanky western business types staying in the posher Ainkawa district.
We were in room 107, which had a window view onto the market and an ensuite. Some time I hope to make a list of all the rooms and hotels/hostels I have stayed in on my travels.
2. Fast in Room WiFi
Our room had super fast WiFi which I actually was surprised about. I was able to get some cool travel stories typed up here in the Bekhal Hotel.
I’ll admit I only cooked noodles and made some tea or coffee but the staff were so welcoming and let me use the kitchen. I’m a real cheapskate and budgeted on £12-15 a day in Iraq.
4. Location in the Heart of Erbil
Situated right in the heart of Erbil Bazaar, one of the best sights in Erbil, this place makes it easy to enjoy the city. You can walk to most places, with the exception of Ainkawa which we got a taxi out to.
5. Friendly Staff
Iraqis and Kurds have been through a lot down the years and it doesn’t take a visit to Saddam Hussein’s House of Horrors to tell you that. What surprised me most was how friendly, open, welcoming and positive the Iraqis and Kurds are. Here the staff were mostly Kurdish, so be aware you should try and refer to the country as Iraqi Kurdistan or Kurdistan.
Almost always recommended by travelers who stay here, this hotel offers clean rooms, reliable hot water, perfect location and a friendly atmosphere at a bargain price of around 25,000 ID per night. We also stayed in the Lord City Hotel in Erbil on New Year’s Eve as we had just arrived.
Here are some videos of my stay in the Bekhal Hotel in Erbil while backpacking in Iraqi Kurdistan: