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Best hotels in Jerusalem for 2017

From historic buildings to cutting-edge high-tech, no other city represents Israel’s diversity better than Jerusalem. As the summer heats up, here are The Times of Israel’s recommendations for best hotels, hostels and guesthouses

A general view taken on January 13, 2017 shows the Dome of the Rock at the Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem. (Thomas Coex/AFP)
A general view taken on January 13, 2017 shows the Dome of the Rock at the Aqsa mosque compound in the Old City of Jerusalem. (Thomas Coex/AFP)

Summer in Jerusalem is our favorite season in our favorite city.

There’s nothing quite as magical as sipping a fresh cocktail on a veranda overlooking the majestic walls of the Old City, as the golden stones reflect the shimmering glow of the setting sun after a day spent bargaining in the ancient alleys of the souk.

Across town, the dependable warmth of the long day melts into the pleasant cool of the evening, transforming the bustling fruit market of Mahane Yehuda into a network of pop-up bars, eateries and music spots.

Here are the best bases for your excursions to the open-air festivals, archaeological treasures and cultural riches of one of the world’s great cities, designed to fit all budgets and families.

Mamilla Hotel: Best New Luxury Hotel

The five-star Mamilla Hotel is one of Jerusalem’s newest additions and has quickly become one of its favorites. Located just outside the Old City walls in Alrov Mamilla Avenue, midway between Jaffa Gate and New Gate, Mamilla’s rooms and public spaces designed by Italian architect Piero Lissoni are a refreshing breath of modern comfort among the ancient stones of the city.

You’ll never forget sunset from the rooftop restaurant and bar, with the views over the Old City walls and down the Hinnom Valley via the Sultan’s Pool. A state of the art wellness spa, pool and fitness center will chase off the tensions after a day’s trekking and for late-night relaxation the elegant Mirror Bar boasts a fine selection of house cocktails, a varied menu and a sensitive in-house DJ.

Looks: Bright, clean, modern lines; glass and stainless steel; polished stone and wood.
Tastes: New Israeli cuisine
Sounds: Late-night shoppers, church bells at dawn
We Love: Cocktails on the roof at sunset, celebrity-spotting in the Mirror Bar
We Recommend: Massage therapy in the spa
Insider Tip: Check out the dairy restaurant and wine bar overlooking Mamilla Mall
Hotel Soul: 21st century
Price: $$$$$
Facilities: Pool, spa, fitness center, parking
Address: Shlomo ha-Melekh St 11, Jerusalem, 94182
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The American Colony Hotel: Best Hotel in East Jerusalem

The American Colony is a Jerusalem institution, and rightly so. The favored watering-hole of diplomats, spies, foreign correspondents and the East Jerusalem elite, the famous courtyard has hosted more history than most of us will ever learn. Take afternoon tea outdoors among the flowers and Armenian ceramics, sip strong Arabic coffee in the maze of leather-furnished meeting rooms, or while away the small hours in the famed Cellar Bar.

Looks: Timeless Turkish Pasha
Tastes: Middle East mezze
Sounds: Whispered secrets, undercover diplomacy
We Love: Pizza and focaccia from the Palm House Garden wood stove
We Recommend: Arabesque Saturday brunch with the East Jerusalem cognoscenti
Insider Tip: Check out the Educational Bookshop opposite the front door
Hotel Soul: Classic Middle East
Price: $$$$
Facilities: Pool, fitness center, sauna, parking
Address: 1, Louis Vincent St.
Click for reservations

The David Citadel Hotel: Best Hotel for Business

The David Citadel is the 21st Century choice for visiting presidents and senators, and its airy ballrooms make it a firm favorite for the business conferences and family celebrations of Jerusalem’s upper crust. The vast outdoor terrace and pool with their uninterrupted view of the nearby Jaffa Gate and Tower of David Museum connect to the city’s five-star fitness and sauna complex where you’re likely to find yourself on a treadmill between a Hollywood star and a cabinet minister. After a hard day, the city’s business elite relax in the upper lobby before entertaining out of town guests at the Pool Grill with the Old City twinkling in the background.

Looks: Jerusalem stone; cut glass; silk furnishings
Tastes: Al fresco ribs at the Pool Grill
Sounds: Tea on the terrace
We Love: Indoor/outdoor pool and sauna
We Recommend: Sushi and jazz in the upstairs lobby
Insider Tip: Executive lounge has stunning views, rooms, all-day drinks and snacks
Hotel Soul: New angle on the Old City
Price: $$$$$
Facilities: Spa, pool, fitness center, executive lounge, sauna, parking
Address: 7 King David St.
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King David Hotel: Best Historic Hotel

The signatures on the floor reproduced on the lobby floor say it all – anyone who’s anyone has stayed here, from Winston Churchill to Prince Charles, from King George V to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Clinton, Carter and Trump, from Elizabeth Taylor to Madonna and Richard Gere. A short walk from the Old City, the King David was built in the 1920s with a final flourish of British colonial elegance.
It boasts the most elegant terrace in town overlooking the Old City walls across a manicured garden surrounding the city’s finest swimming pool. The legendary breakfasts are populated by politicians and power-brokers from around the world, who can be spotted hovering around the discreet meeting rooms where secret peace talks and business deals are conducted until it’s time for dinner at the hotel’s elegant La Regence restaurant.

Looks: British colonial meets Egyptian decor
Tastes: Seared tuna on the terrace, filet in La Regence
Sounds: Birdsong in the garden
We Love: Terrace at sunset overlooking the Old City
We Recommend: Late-night drinks in the Oriental Bar
Insider Tip: Poolside snack bar means you needn’t dress until dinnertime
Hotel Soul: Grande Dame of Jerusalem
Price: $$$$$
Facilities: Pool, spa, fitness center, parking
Address: 23, King David St.
Click for reservations

Eldan Hotel: Best Simple Hotel

Don’t lose sight of the Eldan among the five-star heavyweights on King David Street. This simple boutique hotel is perfectly positioned for the Old City and offers the most reasonable rates on the strip for families prepared to forego the luxuries on offer across the road.
The hotel is small enough to offer genuine personal service and while it may not have the amenities of its world-class competitors, it’s a great choice for visitors who want to be a few steps away from the Old City who need to watch their budget. Rooms are light and airy and the chef enjoys experimenting with interesting new menus.

Looks: Modern Israel
Tastes: Chef’s choice
Sounds: Bustle of the city
We Love: Outdoor terrace right on King David Street
We Recommend: HaMifal art co-operative between King David St and Agron St
Insider Tip: Free coffee and pastries in the lobby every afternoon
Hotel Soul: Simple, convenience
Price: $$$
Facilities: Noon checkout, currency exchange
Address: 24, King David St.
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Waldorf Astoria Hotel: Best Historic Renewal

Jerusalem’s newest luxury hotel is right across the road from the Old City, boasting elegance and luxury that others are racing to match. Created from a complete makeover of the historic Palace Hotel originally constructed for the Mufti of Jerusalem in the 1930s, the Waldorf’s lobby is worth catching for its own unique architecture, while all the rooms are completely new and decorated with an opulence rarely found in Jerusalem. Named a Conde Nast 2016 Best Hotel in the Middle East, the Waldorf combines one of the city’s strictest kosher regimes with an attention to detail that make it the go-to destination for religious Jewish visitors. When the spa and lap pool open at the end of 2017, the experience will be complete.

Looks: Grand Arabesque meets luxurious modern
Tastes: Kosher Italian fusion
Sounds: Quiet downtown oasis
We Love: Kings Court atrium café, airy suites
We Recommend: Cocktails/tapas/cigars on Garden Terrace rooftop
Insider Tip: Gorge yourself on the kosher Shabbat buffet
Hotel Soul: Old world charm, Hilton efficiency
Price: $$$$$
Facilities: Fitness center, parking
Address: 26-28 Gershon Agron St.
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Abraham Hostel: Best Hostel

Walking into the Abraham, you don’t so much enter a hotel as join a community. From the vast lounge, which doubles as an event space and party hall, to the daily events and wide-ranging trips, the riches on offer for budget travelers would be cheap at double the price. Beds range from about $25 in a dorm to less than $50 in a private double room. Friendly staff are on hand to help you plan your days, evenings, and the rest of your trip.

Looks: Contemporary urban collective
Tastes: Beer ‘n pizza
Sounds: Someone, somewhere is playing guitar
We Love: Fuckup Nights and other events in the lounge
We Recommend: Joining the cookup in the guests’ kitchen – bring ingredients
Insider Tip: Cross the road to magical Mahane Yehuda – daytime produce market, nighttime music/drink/food art/energy vibe
Hotel Soul: Passing through, chilling, making new friends
Price: $
Facilities: Rooftop, guest kitchen, communal Shabbat dinner, pool table, foosball, darts
Address: Davidka Square, 67, Haneviim St
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Notre Dame of Jerusalem Center: Best Pilgrim Palace

Owned and operated by the Catholic Church on behalf of the Pontifical Institute, don’t let the austere trappings of this spartanpalace deceive you. Its perfect position opposite the New Gate means you just have to cross the road to travel back centuries as you wade into the Christian Quarter from the finest vantage point.
The bustling ground floor restaurant and coffee shop is a favorite with local families on Sundays and feast days. But the real jewel in this papal crown is the rooftop wine and cheese restaurant with its breathtaking views across the Old City to the Judean Desert, the Dead Sea and mountains of Jordan beyond. On a clear night, you can see the lights of Amman twinkling in the distance.

Looks: Modern monastic
Tastes: Chic Italian, wine and cheese
Sounds: Plainsong
We Love: Rooftop bar with the best views, strongest cheese in the city
We Recommend: Walking to the Holy Sepulcher at dawn for the opening ceremony
Insider Tip: Home base of the incredible Magdala expedition. Ask for full details
Hotel Soul: Pontifical
Price: $$$$
Facilities: Chapel, parking, business center
Address: 3, HaTsanhanim Rd.
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St. Andrew’s Scots Guesthouse: Best Historic Guesthouse

The perfect view of the Old City from the terrace over the excellent breakfast could anchor you to this charming oasis of other-worldly charm all day. Built by the Scottish Church fathers in 1927, St Andrew’s was cunningly designed to look as old as the archaeological mound on which it stands.
With its domed and vaulted roofs, Armenian ceramics, Moorish flourishes and British colonial fireplace surmounted by a portrait of General Allenby, who laid the cornerstone, this delightful guest house offers no-fuss accommodation and friendly service a short walk or bus ride to Mount Zion and the Old City. The buzzing First Station complex is just opposite.

Looks: Colonial highland with Arabesque trimmings
Tastes: White wine and strawberries
Sounds: Choir practice, birdsong
We Love: Saturday brunch on the terrace
We Recommend: Evenings across the road at the First Station bars and restaurants
Insider Tip: Khan Theater next door performs Shakespeare in Hebrew
Hotel Soul: Braveheart in Zion
Price: $$
Facilities: Church, parking
Address: 1, David Remez St.
Click for reservations

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