There are tents "furnished" with mattresses etc. behind the Resthouse costing 3JD/day, they are perfectly comfortable for a few days. There is access to the showers and toilets at the Resthouse. It is also possible to pitch your own tent here for a small sum if you wish, obviously in this case mattresses and blankets are not supplied. You can camp behind the Resthouse in Wadi S'Bach and still have access to the toilets and showers for a small fee. The restaurant in the Resthouse is the only one to have a bar. Phone number is 03.201.8867.
The Wadi Rum equivalent of two star hotels are the camps in Dissieh, which are close to the northern end of Wadi Um Ishrin. I recently visited the "Captain's Camp" which impressed me! Real beds, with real mattresses and blankets! The toilet and shower block was scrupulously clean, and there is a restaurant which is a rather successful blend of "desert" and "civilised". Their phone is +962.795.510.432, email email@example.com. They have a website at http://www.captains-jo.com. They do not themselves organise any tours, but will put you in contact with reliable guides if asked. I believe the other camps at Dissieh to be much the same. Most of them organise evening entertainment a few times a week. The problem here is that these camps are about 20kms (call it 13 miles) from Wadi Rum and people visiting there are invariably guided to the Dissieh area. It is not a good idea to sleep here if you are intending to visit Wadi Rum itself in the same trip. They are some 15kms from the entrance to the "Protected Area".
These camps are a little way away from public transport ; if you come in your own car or with a taxi, they are adequately signposted. Otherwise if you call from the Visitors' Centre they will arrange for you to be picked up for a small charge.
I should like to draw your attention to a camp called "Bait Ali" at Shakriya, which is closer to Rum village than Disseh. This is a very nice place indeed. Although it is a camp, there are beds and clean sheets, and a restaurant with bar! There is also a magnificent swimming pool. The wife of the owner is English. This camp is well placed for anybody wanting to spend time in various activities in Wadi Rum. See their website at www.baitali.com. Bait Ali is very popular with weekenders and you should reserve in advance if you want to go there on a Friday or a Saturday - also of course, during the high season. You can read more about Bait Ali and some of the activities offered there in the section about "What to do in Wadi Rum"
Here are the 2012 prices for Bait Ali (they make no difference between high season and low season). Toilets and showers are in blocks and not attached to the rooms, except for some of the chalets. Check these prices with the Bait Ali website, sometimes I am out of date.
PLEASE NOTE THE PER PERSON CLAUSE WHICH CAN MAKE A CONSIDERABLE DIFFERENCE TO THE PRICE. There is also a 5% service charge on top of the bill, which is distributed directly to the staff, so that no other tips are needed.
This isn't cheap, so please think carefully before booking, and don't write to me later on! Unfortunately any kind of comfortable accommodation in the desert tends to be expensive, but if this is what you are looking for, believe me, Bait Ali is the best option in Wadi Rum.
Most of the camp was built entirely by hand by the owner and his sons. He used wood a great deal and the quality of the work is irreproachable. Altogether it is a very attractive desert camp for those who don't like roughing it. Warning : if you are interested in staying at Bait Ali PLEASE GET IN TOUCH WITH THEM DIRECTLY, EITHER BY FAX OR BY EMAIL. At least one agency is quoting very high prices on their behalf, not just for staying there but for subsidiary services; these prices are not authorized by Bait Ali. See Ripping off Section
Bait Ali contacts : Mobile phone numbers from abroad +962 79 5548133 or +962 77 7548133. Email firstname.lastname@example.org, fax +9184.108.40.20626 - a fax is preferred by the owners. You should be able to book online, using credit cards, from March 2009 onwards.
Sleeping in the desert
Obviously most people visiting Wadi Rum want to spend the night in a "Bedouin tent". I think nearly everybody realises ahead of time that these tents are not the authentic homes of the Bedouin, but are erected for the tourists. It is nevertheless a special experience to sleep out in the desert, especially when the weather is good enough to let you sleep out of doors under the stars. Supper is usually served around the fire - a few camps even offer tables and stools! Mattresses and blankets are supplied for sleeping, and also pillows. Unless you particularly want to use your own bedding, you do not need to bring a sleeping bag with you. Small tents are not usually available, neither are sheets - although I do know of at least one exception to this!
If you want to sleep out of doors, you just take your bedding and settle down in whatever corner you fancy! In most places there are corners outside the camp to be private - or you can just bed down beside the camp fire, as you prefer. Don't forget to bring back your bedding the next morning!
The tourist camps are undoubtedly more comfortable for a tourist than the "family tents" a number of them nowadays have amenities like toilets (even sit down ones!) and showers, where the water is heated by the sun (note this for the winter!). They are also rather better insulated in cold or rainy weather than the family tents. You might complain about authenticity, but most people are only too pleased to find at least some rudiments of comfort (I have been asked if the Bedouin tents are air conditioned. I make no comment). In fact, the bathroom and also a fixed kitchen are imposed by the rules of the Nature Reserve and are one of the conditions of a license being granted.
A frequent request is to "sleep with a Bedouin family". I am sorry, but on the whole this cannot be done unless you have reached the stage of friendship where you are classed as an "intimate". At the moment, no Bedouin family in the desert would accept foreign tourists to spend the night in their tent. Among other reasons, this poses a number of problems that conflict with Islamic customs of privacy. You would be welcomed to drink tea or occasionally for a meal, and many of the Wadi Rum guides will automatically take you to visit their families in the desert, perhaps to have lunch there, or in any case a glass of tea. The "guest place" of these family tents is to the left when you are facing it, do NOT make any attempt to intrude on any other part of it, this would be the "family quarters". (see the web page "The Bedouin of Wadi Rum") Any ladies may, if they wish, ask to say "thank you" to the women who have prepared the meal, this is seldom refused, but please don't stare around too much. Men are not normally admitted to the private quarters!
Restaurants and coffee shops
I am sorry but there is nowhere really I can wholeheartedly recommend for eating in Rum village. The obvious place is the Resthouse, and most groups coming for a couple of hours are brought here. Lunch and supper are a buffet, quite generously supplied and well cooked, but the price is around 10-12JD without service or any drinks. For Jordan this is on the expensive side. It is true that beer, alcohol and wine are available here for a price.
The same thing applies the restaurant at the Visitors' Centre, run by Captain's from Aqaba, and to Bait Ali if you like to eat there.
There are a couple of smaller restaurants not far from the Resthouse on the road leading to the desert, but the quality and service are not as good as the Resthouse and the price is almost the same.
I agree that the demand for restaurants is not great, since most tours booked in advance include all meals, but nevertheless, a decent restaurant/coffee shop at a reasonable price is quite definitely a lack in Wadi Rum.