Alegra Boutique Hotel and Spa: Charm in Ein Karem

The timeless, quaint village of Ein Karem, nestled in a valley just miles from the heart of the sacred sites of Jerusalem, is a unique spiritual hub: an important pilgrimage site for Christians, and home to a burgeoning community of newly observant young Jews. In addition, its millennia of history, natural beauty, tranquil serenity and concentration of artists has also made it a mecca for tourists, whether visiting for a day, or looking to spend a romantic weekend in places like Alegra Boutique Hotel.

The picturesque houses in this ancient village are made predominantly of durable stone – built to last, as they have, for countless generations. In the strategic center of town, on typical Ein Karem narrow, winding lanes, Alegra transformed a cluster of these homes into a boutique hotel comprising 14 rooms and suites, along with welcoming indoor and outdoor common areas.

There are four categories of guest units – classic rooms, deluxe rooms, studio suites and signature suites – but in actuality, each unit is slightly different, owing to the distinctive architectural characteristics of the buildings involved. In particular, the sizes and numbers of windows may vary significantly, thus impacting both lighting and views.

Nevertheless, all rooms are similarly equipped and furnished, with user-friendly temperature control, Nespresso-brand coffee machines, minibars, and laptop-sized safes. The comfortable king-sized beds are rather low to the floor and boast linens made from Egyptian cotton.

Entertainment and communications are up-to-date, with free WiFi in guest rooms and accessible from virtually all corners of the sprawling hotel and grounds. “Smart” (albeit not fully programmed) plasma satellite TV’s offer a variety of multilingual news, movie and program channels, easily viewable with the help of the small remote control device that can sometimes nonetheless be challenging when trying to maximize the more sophisticated options. 

The bathrooms in some rooms may require negotiating an indoor step – an unlighted one, no less, on top of already dim interior surroundings – but once you get there, you will find spacious shower stalls, with raindrop shower heads; in addition, most (but not all) bathrooms contain bathtubs. While the towels are not particularly large, bathrobes and logo-embossed slippers are welcome accessories, along with the quality amenities. There are also make-up mirrors, although without dedicated lighting that may be necessary in some corners. 

Most units are large enough to accommodate a seating area in which to enjoy your complimentary coffee, small bottle of wine and mineral water. Yet you will be equally tempted to take your libation out of doors, on the sun terrace or other nook on the semi-secluded and peaceful grounds. Thus, it is highly recommended to plan your trip to Ein Karem for the seasons of the year when leaves are on the trees and flowers are blooming – i.e., not in the winter months. 

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Interestingly, outdoors is where you will find the spa components of Alegra: the dry and wet saunas, the hot tub, and the hutch containing the massage beds, for solar or couple treatments. The hotel has contracted with some of the best therapists in the entire region, and it is well worth considering enhancing your stay with a pampering extra. 

Before the pandemic, Alegra was also known for its restaurant and fine dining – and hopefully, that dimension will be restored again soon. Meanwhile, happily, the hotel’s chef has maintained the highest culinary standards when it comes to the complimentary breakfast, which comprises both a cold buffet and a hot entrée made to order. 

Until the hotel dining room reopens for dinner, there are a number of excellent gastronomic options just steps away from Alegra, such as the restaurant La Brasserie, where you can enjoy both local and international cuisine. The reception and front desk staff – although they cannot be reached via the guest room phones, which despite the written instructions to the contrary, do not work – will be happy to assist with this and other suggestions.

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They will also be happy to put you in touch with undoubtedly the village’s best resident tour guide, author Pnina Ein Mor, whose tours are guaranteed to open new insights into this gem of a village. In fact, it is advisable to book one of her enjoyable and informative tours in advance of your arrival.

Last but not least, it is important to note that Alegra accepts guests only over the age of 14, creating an adults-only atmosphere that guarantees a quieter and more relaxing stay.  

Alegra Boutique Hotel

Published prices: $340-$705 per room per night, depending on the season and month (the higher rates apply on weekends and holidays). You can also compare prices and book through a site like Booking.com or Expedia.

Text by Buzzy Gordon, who was a guest of the hotel for purposes of review. As always, the opinions expressed are his alone. Photos courtesy of Alegra Boutique Hotel PR.

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