Jerusalem’s iconic King David Hotel evicts guests to accommodate world leaders

Influx of VIPs for Peres funeral meant nearly all the rooms had to be emptied, and fast, says CEO

View of the the King David Hotel seen from central Jerusalem, on February 8, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
View of the the King David Hotel seen from central Jerusalem, on February 8, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Rosh Hashanah is among the busiest times of the year for Israeli hotels. The death of former President Shimon Peres and the long list of international leaders and representatives arriving for the Friday funeral forced some of the country’s most exclusive and desirable hotels to relocate regular paying guests.

Most of the world leaders will be staying at the prestigious 85-year-old King David Hotel in central Jerusalem, which overlooks both the Old City and Mount Zion. With heads of state and senior ministers from more than 25 countries expected at the hotel, including from France, Italy, Germany, Australia and Greece, the establishment found itself on Thursday forced to clear nearly all of its rooms — and fast.

Chayim Shkedi, the King David’s CEO, told Channel 2 television that emptying the hotel of paying guests was “exceptionally painful.”

Noting that all guests were being compensated for the change in plans, he praised his customers as, with very few exceptions, very understanding of the situation.

It may have been Peres’s famously affable personality that made them sympathetic to his predicament, he suggested.

The incoming dignitaries, too, were very understanding and had made very few special requests, he said.

Israeli security services were on high alert in Jerusalem as the capital prepared to host delegations from at least 70 nations, including the leaders of the United States, France, Germany, Canada, Mexico, and Australia.

As part of these preparations, barriers and tents were set up around the King David, alongside less conspicuous security measures.

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