The ancient city of Akko (a.k.a., Acre), a Mediterranean port since the days of the Phoenicians, has witnessed some of the greatest dramas in world history: conquered by Alexander the Great and Cleopatra, it was the Crusader capital in the Holy Land, was almost captured by Napoleon, and played a starring role in the movie Exodus. Much of this pageantry comes to life today in the well preserved Old City, which is also home to a stunning new boutique hotel, Arabesque, an Arts and Residency Center.
Arabesque is the brainchild of American-born Israeli Evan Fallenberg, an author who envisions hosting writers-in-residence in the space that he has lovingly fashioned out of former ruin. Meanwhile, he and his son operate the restored property as a boutique hotel, whose architectural setting has been the subject of profile in the New York Times and is a stop on some itineraries of local tour guides.
The hotel is reached by traversing narrow pedestrian alleyways on foot. Navigating picturesque arches on the way sets the stage for the Arabesque theme that has been carried through the phases of the hotel’s construction and decoration.
From the entrance, one descends into a lobby — a.k.a. The Great Room — dominated by a large conference table, which doubles as the dining room table where the daily complimentary breakfast is served. Breakfasts, which are prepared in the open kitchen, are also likely to feature traditional Arabic treats from local bakeries and confectioners.
The impressive table calls attention to the museum-class wooden furniture — antique desks and wardrobes — procured by the hotel from a European estate sale. There are not many areas to furnish: besides the Great Room, and a pleasant courtyard, with a fountain, there are only three guest rooms.
All three spacious guest rooms — the Vine Room, the Green Room and the Peacock Room — feature stone walls, vaulted ceilings, queen-size beds, sitting areas, and a kitchenette. The armoires contain slippers, but no robes. The en suite bathrooms have raindrop showerheads, even the very tiny ones that are slated to be enlarged this August. For the time being, the Peacock Room has the most comfortable bathroom.
The renovation planned for the summer will extend to the rooftop, where a gazebo will be built on the roof, the better to catch cooling summer breezes. Stay tuned to see if Arabesque’s free WiFi, which currently reaches throughout the property, scales the refurbished heights.
Published rates: $165 to $235 per room per night.
Text by Buzzy Gordon, who was a guest of Arabesque for purposes of review. Photos courtesy of Arabesque.