One of the first hotels in East Jerusalem to style itself a boutique hotel had already staked out arguably the best name to have in this age of Internet search engines: The Jerusalem Hotel. And it did so the old-fashioned way: by remaining in business as a family-owned and operated hotel for more than half-a-century.
Of course, its excellent location doesn’t hurt: just a short walk from Damascus Gate, in the heart of the Arab sector of the city, and an equally short walk to the light rail station of the same name — where a modern tram departs frequently for downtown West Jerusalem and many sightseeing attractions.
The Jerusalem Hotel’s reputation for value is another plus: the prices of hotel rooms in the Holy City are notoriously high; and while East Jerusalem is generally less expensive than its western counterpart, it is hard to find hotel rooms as nicely decorated and comfortable as those here starting at just over $100.
For a hotel with only 14 rooms, the sizes and variety are quite varied; each room in this former private mansion has different dimensions, suitable for singles, couples or even families with up to two small children (although there are no suites). Stairs are unavoidable in a quasi-historic building that does not have an elevator; but there are only two floors: the first comprising a reception area and six rooms, while the second has 8 rooms. It is worth climbing one flight just to view the beautiful Palestinian textiles and fabrics adorning the staircase walls, not to mention the museum-quality furniture pieces in the public areas.
Guest room interiors are furnished in equally good taste, with colorful bedspreads and quilts, and antiques from the region. The hotel has undergone a series of refurbishments over the years; so despite the early 20th-century appearance, the plumbing, heating and air-conditioning are modern and efficient. All the conveniences of 21st-century technology are provided as well, from flat screen satellite TV’s to wireless Internet access throughout.
Another great convenience is the restaurant right on the hotel’s grounds: Kan Zaman serves delicious Arabic food, while its weekly live — and lively — local music attracts a crowd drawn from Arabs and Jews. Guests can also order room service from the menu. Included in the room rate is a basic breakfast buffet, served in the atmospheric Al-Diwan lounge.
It is not that easy to find a hotel that is so conveniently located to both East and West Jerusalem, while also feeling equally welcoming to Jews and non-Jews alike. The Jerusalem Hotel, whose owner Raed Saadeh is also chairman of Jerusalem’s Arab Hotel Association and active in other worthy civic organizations, manages to fit that bill admirably.
No. of rooms: 14
Published rates: $110-240
Text and photos by Buzzy Gordon, who was a guest of The Jerusalem Hotel for purposes of review.