Jerusalem, steeped in history and nurtured by faith, remains one of the most coveted, bewildering and inspiring faultlines in the Middle East. Pilgrims and tourism have made it among the most cosmopolitan cities in the region, too, with a range of swish hotels and budget hostels that belie its relatively small size and population.
Built in 1929 by the Mufti of Jerusalem, the lavish Waldorf Astoria is located just moments away from Mamilla Mall and the Old City, making it an ideal base from which to explore Jerusalem. Its interior features intricately designed bannisters, marble staircases and arched windows, while the inner courtyard is built from pale Jerusalem stone and covered in glass ceilings. Breakfast (either buffet or à la carte) and dinner are both served at the kosher Palace Restaurant. On the fourth floor lies the plant-filled Garden Terrace, perfect for enjoying tapas and signature cocktails while admiring the views of the city.
Favoured by journalists, diplomats and celebrities like Bob Dylan and Robert De Niro, the American Colony is a landmark hotel in Jerusalem. Located in the east of the city, it is still owned and run by the descendants of the original founding community – American Christian pilgrims who travelled to Jerusalem in 1881. Some of the 94 rooms are fitted with four-poster beds and dark wood features; others are furnished in an Ottoman style. Guests can choose from several restaurants, including a brasserie, but the most charming spot is the secluded courtyard, which serves European and Middle Eastern food. For evening drinks, the intimate Cellar Bar is very popular. The charm of the place compensates for it being slightly out of the way – the Old City is a 20-minute walk away, and Mahane Yehuda a little further.
The Mamilla Hotel will appeal to those looking for a modern luxury feel. Situated five minutes from the Old City, the rooms here are modern and chic, with pale wooden floors, crisp white linen and large windows letting in plenty of light. Guests can choose from several dining options including an excellent fish restaurant overlooking the Mamilla shopping avenue, and a rooftop restaurant and bar offering stunning views of Jerusalem’s Old City walls. For some pampering, don’t miss out on their luxurious Akasha wellbeing center, which offers a Turkish hammam and hydro treatments in a watsu pool.
Guests can enjoy contemporary boutique hospitality at this renovated 19th-century villa. The interior bears influences from Jerusalem’s Ottoman and British Mandate history and has retained the original sandstone walls. Featuring king-size beds and walk-in showers, visitors can choose from a range of signature rooms, equipped with large balconies and private terraces. For breakfast and lunch (until 2pm), an array of fresh mezze and Middle Eastern-style mains, such as shakshuka and bourekas, are served, however, there is no dinner option available on site. The tea garden offers a picturesque spot for afternoon refreshments and the dreamy rooftop spa provides an opportunity to relax. The hotel sits between Mahane Yehuda market, modern downtown Jerusalem, the ultra-orthodox Jewish neighbourhood of Mea She’arim and the Old City, making it a great location for travellers seeking to explore this diverse and fascinating city.
Overlooking the Old City and the Tower of David, this 11-storey hotel offers a luxurious experience for guests. Inside, expect custom furnishings designed by the Italian architect Piero Lissoni, and elegantly appointed rooms with oak parquet flooring and light marble bathrooms. Some of the rooms offer views of the Old City’s ancient walls, while the hotel has several restaurants, including a sushi bar and Seasons, which serves up a breakfast buffet. Relax at an open-all-seasons outdoor pool and spa that offers a range of massages and beauty treatments.
This quaint boutique hotel combines historic charm with modern luxury. The spacious rooms (each one is unique) feature exposed-stone walls, arched windows and Persian rugs. In the hotel’s restaurant, breakfast includes homemade bread and focaccia fresh from the tabun oven, shakshuka and a variety of cheeses. In the evening, guests can enjoy a seven-course chef’s dinner, which uses fresh ingredients from the local market. With an outdoor pool, massage treatments and a sauna, you’ll find everything you need for a relaxing stay. It is located in the picturesque hills of Ein Karem, a village in the west of Jerusalem. Despite being just 15 minutes by car from the Old City, the peaceful surroundings make this hotel feel like a getaway.
Located in a stunningly restored building, this 24-room boutique hotel is a charming option in Jerusalem’s quaint German Colony. Outside, you’ll find arched windows with blue shutters against pale stone walls. Inside, expect more of the same colours, in addition to antique wooden furniture. The rooms are comfortable and unpretentious, and it’s worth booking one with a balcony. The outdoor courtyard is a relaxing exterior spa, which offers a variety of professional treatments. A hearty breakfast is served at two nearby cafés and included in the price, and the Old City is roughly 20 minutes away on foot.
Located on the outskirts of Jerusalem’s Old City, this boutique hotel offers Ottoman-style luxury in a historical setting. Built in the 1880s as an eye hospital by a British charitable organisation, the building was used as an Ottoman arms warehouse during World War I. Guests can choose from 117 rooms, 20 luxurious suites or a villa, each one offering an Ottoman-Moroccan aesthetic, with exposed stone walls and patterned ceramic floors. Some offer views of Mount Zion and the Hinnom Valley, which can also be enjoyed from the hotel’s picturesque garden. Spend your day at the hotel’s spa or fitness centre, the outdoor swimming pool or the Turkish hammam. Breakfast here is a feast of fresh fruits, cheeses, olives, pastries, omelettes, bread and fresh juices.
Located in the heart of downtown Jerusalem lies the 58-room boutique Arthur Hotel. Inside, vintage photography of Jerusalem, Turkish rugs and antique furnishings from local artisans give the hotel a retro feel. The breakfast buffet offers guests a selection of cheeses, fresh salads, pickled fish, bread, jams and eggs. Although no dinner is served, free wine and snacks are available throughout the day. The Old City is a 15-minute walk away.
Amar Grover contributed additional reporting to this article.