Oasis of Peace is the actual name of the unique community that owns and runs the pleasant Neve Shalom Guest House. Conveniently situated halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, Oasis of Peace-Neve Shalom-Wahat as-Salaam is a village populated by Israeli Jews and Arabs who are serving as a model of co-existence in a land riven by strife. The hotel the residents have built often hosts visiting groups interested in learning how well the experiment is going; but the good news for the ordinary tourist is that the guest rooms boast stunning views of Israel’s coastal plain.
The hotel’s 41 garden guest rooms, arrayed in four rows along the gentle slope of one a Jerusalem corridor foothill, are well suited for both small families (with two or three children) and couples. Each air-conditioned unit is equipped with a small refrigerator and electric kettle for making complimentary coffee and tea; satellite television; in- room safe and multi-line telephone. A number of units are handicapped accessible.
The one feature that couples especially are likely to appreciate are the semi-secluded private balconies attached to each unit; the views overlooking the Ayalon Valley are beautiful during the day — especially in the late winter and early spring — and spectacular even at night, when lights illuminate towns and cities all the way to the skyscrapers of Tel Aviv.
The Neve Shalom Guest House’s kosher dining room serves a complimentary buffet breakfast every day; Sabbath meals every weekend; and — whenever one of the frequent visiting groups is on the premises — weekday lunches and dinners. Hot and cold beverages and other refreshments are available from the snack bar in the lobby. Both food service personnel and front-desk staff speak good English.
As befits a rural guest house, there are plenty of places to relax out of doors, whether in lounge chairs on green lawns, around one of the outdoor grills, on the shaded verandah off the lobby, or at tables in two courtyards. In addition to the Olympic-size swimming pool — which also has a covered wading pool for little ones — there are playgrounds for toddlers, a football (soccer) pitch and basketball courts.
For adults seeking peace and quiet in tranquil meditation, the community’s dome-shaped silent space is ideal. Or one can venture out to nearby hot springs, as well as to no fewer than half-a-dozen national forests in easy driving distance. Among the local sightseeing attractions are the Latrun Monastery, the Israel Defense Force’s Armored Corps Museum, the Mini-Israel miniature park, and the Neot Kedumim Biblical Landscape Reserve.
Anyone who has traveled from Jordan to Israel overland knows this is a region of many roadblocks, fences, and army bases, but here you can set those memories aside.
No. of rooms: 41 garden-style units
Published rates: $105-$160 (extra charge for additional people)
Text by Buzzy Gordon, who was a guest of the Neve Shalom Guest House for purposes of review. Photos courtesy of Neve Shalom.