Bayt Jameela: ‘Like visiting your grandmother’

How a hostel offers tourists a blend of traditional and modern

(Photos: Handouts from Bayt Jameela)
AMMAN — Having visited many countries and stayed at different hostels, Hatem Hijazi decided to start his own hostel in the heart of one of the oldest neighborhoods in Amman, Jabal Luweibdeh.اضافة اعلان

Hijazi, founder of Bayt Jameela Hostel, told Jordan News that the aim of the hostel is to help tourists in Jordan by providing them with some tips on touristic sites, stores, and transportation, so they can “have a beautiful experience in Jordan and give good feedback about it”.

(Photos: Handouts from Bayt Jameela)

“We give them a family rather than just an accommodation,” Hijazi said.

“What inspired me was the lack of the attention given to tourism in Jordan, and since my whole family work in tourism sector, ... I started thinking about doing something useful for my family and country. I wanted to make a change in tourism in Jordan,” the founder added.

Hijazi, whose father worked as a tour guide for 25 years, said that it’s the hostel’s “authentic and modern” styles is what sets it apart.

He wanted guests to feel like they were “entering one of Luweibdeh’s old houses,” as if you were going to visit your grandmother’s house.

“We love to make people feel at home,” the owner said.

Hijazi noted that the hostel’s location near the Paris Circle is an added value. Residents can find “everything they need” from supermarkets to coffee shops, all within a four-minute walk from the hostel.

(Photos: Handouts from Bayt Jameela)

“Foreigners really love to see Luweibdeh, given that it is a tourist attraction,” he said, adding that “the hostel is also near both the old and new downtowns; Al-Balad and the Boulevard.”

Hijazi said he’d traveled a lot, and had stayed at many hostels. It’s what sparked his ambition to create his own hostel. He explained that by “bringing my family to once place,” he could “benefit from their experience in the tourism sector.”

Hijazi said that the hostel’s name: Bayt Jameela (Jameela’s Home in English) is named after his mother, Jameela, who passed away three years ago.

“It sounds Arabic and authentic but it is also catchy, even foreigners who do not understand Arabic ask me: ‘What does Jameela mean?’” he added.

Bayt Jameela, operated out of a leased building first constructed in the 1950s, was eligible for a grant from the UNDP’s Heart of Amman initiative, supported by the Japanese government and the Greater Amman Municipality.

Hijazi described the Bayt Jameela’s prices as “affordable”, ranging from JD17–30 per night, and he highlighted that the hostel attracts tourists from a wide variety of nationalities.

According to the owner, Bayt Jameela recently signed an agreement with Deewan Institute for Languages and Cultural Studies, under which the institute’s students have a 15-percent discount on accommodation at the hostel.

(Photos: Handouts from Bayt Jameela)

Founded in 2019, the three-story hostel has seven rooms, three shared bathrooms, a studying space, a rooftop, a shared kitchen, and a lobby.

“Our residents sometimes love to study at the rooftop; however, it is also the place where we hold events such as open mic and farewells events. Sometimes people rent it to hold their events,” Hijazi explained.

Bayt Jameela has also hosted an event called “The Women Circle”, in which local women convene to discuss “how to improve themselves and become better human beings in the society”.

Ahmad Al-Bawab, host at Bayt Jameela, said in an interview with Jordan News that he sees Bayt Jameela as his first home, not his second.

“When Hatem is not around, I welcome our new guests, give them a brief on Bayt Jameela, introduce them to other residents, hold gatherings for the residents at the hostel, and take care of them and of the place,” he said.

Bawab said that he also works as a hiking tour guide, which he does on behalf of Bayt Jameela. Hostel residents can organize hiking, camping, and canoeing trips from the lobby.

(Photos: Handouts from Bayt Jameela)

Guests at the hotel were very complimentary of Bayt Jameela, with one guest describing his nine days at the hostel as “beautiful,” and another telling Jordan News that she had extended her stay by another month.

“The first day that we walked in we immediately felt like a family,” she added.

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