Luxury Intersects with History in Israel
Israel is fancy now. No longer just a staid stop on a religious pilgrimage tour, this fascinating destination has upped its hospitality game to keep pace with its booming economy and world-class food and culture offerings. The past decade has seen a total transformation of the Israeli boutique hotel landscape and the country is now home to an enviable roster of stylish hotels that offer luxurious trappings for those looking to blend old and new at the crossroads of history.
There’s nothing quite as magical as sipping a fresh cocktail on a veranda overlooking the majestic walls of the Old City, as the golden stones reflect the shimmering glow of the setting sun after a day spent bargaining in the bustling alleys of the shuk, or market. Ancient religious ritual mixes with modern cuisine at Mamilla’s rooftop restaurant and bar, which has views over the Old City walls and down the Hinnom Valley via the Sultan’s Pool. The menu at Happy Fish, the hotel’s indoor-outdoor restaurant that overlooks the outdoor pedestrian mall flanking the Old City, darts around the Mediterranean with an array of colorful salads and mezze that lead into dishes of fish “shawarma” with yogurt-tahini sauce, forest mushroom linguine and Tunisian fish couscous.
Located just outside the Old City walls and ensconced within a luxury pedestrian mall, the hotel was designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie and deftly straddles old and new with striking glass and steel flourishes that boldly contrast the pale Jerusalem stone. But once you enter the lobby, with its seductive spaces designed by Italian architect Piero Lissoni you feel the hotel’s modern elegance and unabashed swagger mingling pleasantly with the city’s storied past.
There’s plenty to keep you busy at the hotel: a spa with its own Turkish hamam and meditation room, pool and fitness center will chase off the tensions after a day’s sight-seeing and for late-night relaxation the elegant Mirror Bar boasts a fine selection of house cocktails, a varied menu and an in-house DJ. And oh, the breakfast buffet, with an endless spread of cheeses, fresh fruits and vegetables and pastries fit for a Sultan – there’s practically no need to eat for the rest of the day. The hotel’s location is unbeatable for Jerusalem exploring, within walking distance of all the major sites and a short taxi ride to restaurants and nightlife. For those looking for a stylish respite from Jerusalem’s sometimes-exhausting urban trekking, the Mamilla provides the perfect escape.