Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas at the American Colony Hotel Jerusalem

The American Colony Hotel celebrates Christmas with the holiday spirits, banquet and dancing into 2018. The historical hotel is ready for Christmas with six meters high Christmas tree, at least half a dozen trees all around the hotel and decorations everywhere in the colors of green, red and gold.

As we entered the premises of the American Colony on a Friday evening, the first thing we noticed was the huge six meters Christmas tree and thousands of lights decorating the hotel’s buildings. In a mere second it was like we entered a different country, Europe or the United States. 

Everyone speaks English here, and the hotel is decorated bottom up with the holiday’s symbols - each corner from the lobby to the restaurants and corridors – many Christmas trees and Christmas decorations everywhere and Jingle bells playing in the background. If you miss some Christmas spirit, looking to celebrate the holidays or curious to feel Christmas as it is celebrated abroad – you are in the right place.

American Colony is like a bubble where you travel back in time, to a Christian country or a paradise where Arabs, Jews, and foreigners sit next to each other enjoying a relaxed stay, a meal, or a drink at the Patio.

The small 92 rooms boutique hotel is a historical estate that belonged to a Christian family from Chicago with Norwegian roots whose descendants still own the hotel. It includes an archive of the establishers and many photographs of 19th century Jerusalem and original artifacts, which is also displayed in the corridors and the rooms. When staying at the hotel, plan some free time to roam around the hotel since it is a living museum, but with a seasonal heated pool and a gym!
The main building was the Palace of the Pasha’s Harmon (where his four wives lived) and some of the suites and rooms are the wives’ summer and winter residence. The décor of the hotel is typical Arabic with arched windows and high ceilings with romantic gardens.
All rooms are spacious, and each room is different, but all have the same thing in common – original vintage furniture, some reconstructed or new replicas, old fashioned bathrooms, a lot of wood, handmade carpets, and small antique knickknacks. On top of this, there are all the modern amenities one can ask for from flat-screen TVs, air-condition, Italian toiletries and a ‘rain’ shower. The American Colony Hotel is part of the Leading Hotels of the world chain and thus meets the standards of an extraordinary luxury hotel; it won the World Travel Awards best boutique hotel in Israel for the fourth time.
The hotel is always in a renewal process, as the manager, Thomas Brugnatelli, tells us “We are replacing the TVs for larger ones, improving accessibility and adding additional family rooms are added to meet the needs of our guests. The aim is to keep the hotel’s ambience and looks unchanged while upgrading the infrastructure and amenities to the most modern available”. 

American Colony hotel is located in East Jerusalem, right on the border between the East and West Jerusalem, and a block from Sderot Hayim Barlev. It has always kept its neutrality and is a popular place for Palestinians, Israelis and the International community, especially for the press. Over the years it was also the meeting place and many diplomatic talks took place here. It is also very popular by many figures and celebrities.
The visitors’ album in front of the reception displays the names of many famous people who stayed here over the years, including Winston Churchill, Sir Herbert Samuel, Omar Sharif, Tony Blaire, Peter Ustinov, Sting, and Richard Gere, and many others (this is a very partial list!).
The official language at the hotel is English but some of the staff also speak Hebrew and French.  At dinner, as we sat at Arabesque restaurant for some fine elegant dining, each table spoke a different language. The couple near us spoke Dutch, two old American ladies spoke English, and others spoke French. The restaurant serves both Arab and plates such as Fillet Mignon and Shushbarak with an Arab fusion, and is not kosher. There is also less formal restaurant “Val’s Brasserie”, a summer terrace cafe and a fancy bar. Breakfast is rich buffet-style meal and is not kosher. High tea is served here every afternoon.

At Christmas Eve, the hotel will offer a six course Christmas banquet accompanied by Christmas carols and Santa clause will give the children gifts. At New Year’s Eve, there will be a big party here with a seven-course gourmet dinner, Champaign and dancing through the night.
Also in Jerusalem, the YMCA hosts Christmas fair and concerts and events will take place in the churches in town.
To read more about the hotel, read the article about my previous visit: The American Colony - Authentic Luxury Experience
The writer was a guest of the hotel
Information: American Colony hotel, 1 Louis Vincent st. Jerusalem,

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