Ben Lerwill finds hotels in the Holy City to suit all budgets
Jerusalem is unquestionably one of the most remarkable cities on the planet.
Hugely symbolic for Muslims, Jews and Christians alike, it’s home to different cultures and an astounding amount of history.
But where to stay? Here’s our guide to some of the best hotels, whether you’re on a tight budget or splashing the shekels.
SAVE: LOCATION OR STYLE
The Jerusalem Gardens Hotel sits some distance from the main attractions but, for the price, it’s an attractive choice.
Its suites and family rooms have balconies and there’s an outdoor pool area, as well as free Jacuzzis and saunas. Superstar Holidays sells the property from £43 per person per night.
Closer to the Old City is Prima Palace (pictured below), another smart but inexpensive option. It’s a short walk from the famous Mahane Yehuda food market and also has an on-site synagogue, should one be needed. A night with breakfast starts from £73 per person per night twin-share with On The Go, which offers escorted and private tailor-made touring itineraries.
Open since March last year, the Arthur Hotel is a 54-room boutique property with a nice mix of vintage decor and modern comforts.
There’s a free “happy hour” with wine and snacks every evening except Saturday, and the location is a quick stroll from Ben Yehuda Street. It’s not super-cheap, but Pomegranate Travel offers it for £150 per night per double room, including breakfast, making it a well-priced choice for couples.
SPEND: CENTRAL OR CHARACTERFUL
Location counts for a lot in Jerusalem, so if clients can raise the budget they’ll be able to stay closer to the Old City.
The 130-room St George Landmark Hotel is just a five-minute walk from the gates – the balconies give great views over the area – and a recent renovation has left rooms looking sleek and smart.
Also on the outskirts of the Old City and recently refurbished, the rather opulently-styled Mount Zion Hotel has an outdoor swimming pool and a spa with a Turkish hammam. Cox & Kings offers four-night packages at the former from £1,055 and at the latter from £965, both including flights, transfers and breakfast.
Elsewhere, Christian tourists keen to stay somewhere with character should be aware of 19-room Saint Andrews Scottish Guesthouse (often known simply as ‘The Scottie’), a charming old building with its own church, as well as spectacular views across the city.
Kirker Holidays has three nights with flights, transfers and breakfast, from £894.
For visitors happier out of the buzzing city, the Cramim Resort & Spa (pictured top) opened in 2013 in the Judean wine region, some 15 minutes’ drive from Jerusalem. Overlooking the mountains, it’s a classy property that places a real emphasis on wine – the spa even offers ‘vino-therapy’ treatments. Pomegranate Travel offers it at £170 per night for a double, with breakfast.
SPLURGE: HERITAGE OR CUTTING-EDGE
An upmarket boutique property with a remarkable history, the American Colony Hotel has been welcoming guests since 1902, when Baron Ustinov (grandfather of Sir Peter Ustinov) began using the property to house discerning Western visitors.
Today it offers a range of character-rich rooms and suites and prides itself on the fact that it’s owned neither by Arabs or Jews. Three nights with flights, transfers and breakfast starts from £1,277 with Kirker Holidays.
There’s luxury of a more conventional kind at the renowned King David Jerusalem Hotel – an elevated location means many of its rooms have superb views over the Old City. It’s been standing for close to a century, and its pink quartz walls and private gardens still give it a rarefied air. Abercrombie & Kent offers a three-night package with private guiding, flights, transfers and breakfasts from £1,495.
The operator also offers more contemporary sister property Dan Boutique, which screens movies by local art students, from £1,245.
SIGHTS THREE WAYS
Save: One problem clients are likely to have in Jerusalem is how to fit all the cultural attractions into one visit. The good news is that many sights are free. However, visiting some spots requires forward planning, not least Temple Mount itself, the gold-domed centrepiece of the Old City – non-Muslims can only enter via one of nine gates, and there are always lengthy queues.
Spend: Some Jerusalem tour companies are aimed at tourists on modest budgets. Abraham Tours offers some creative ways of seeing the city – it runs a market tour and cookery lesson for £14, and a three-hour Jerusalem bike tour costs £38. Green Olive Tours also has out-of-the-ordinary options, such as its East & West walking tour through Jewish and Arab neighbourhoods, costing £24.
Splurge: The City of David is the oldest part of Jerusalem. Tourists will enjoy exploring numerous excavations, and expert guides can be arranged at Cityofdavid.org.il – four hours costs £162. If they prefer high-end shopping, the Alrov Mamilla Avenue arcade has luxury brands such as Israeli fashion icon Ronen Chen.
EAT THREE WAYS
Save: The city’s diverse food culture is one of the great joys of a visit here. The best place to start is at the heaving Mahane Yehuda Market, where riotously colourful produce stalls stand alongside juice bars and falafel stands. Informal restaurant Azura serves great stews and soups from around £4.30.
Spend: For those travellers in search of high-quality kosher food, the 1868 Restaurant occupies a historical building on King David Street – main courses begin at £14.50. Elsewhere, the innovative Chakra gives a fresh spin on traditional dishes – examples include entrecote kebab with tahini and calamari msabaha with pickled lemon. Sharing menus start at approximately £23.
Splurge: If money’s no object, nearby Machne Yudah (left) is one of the most talked about eateries in town – it has a tasting menu for £45. And you’ll find another fine dining option at the Scala Chef Kitchen (part of the David Citadel Hotel), where veal fillet medallions will set you back about £30.
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