Saturday, April 21, 2018

Alegra – A Romantic Hotel in Ein Kerem

Alegra is a romantic boutique hotel in Ein Kerem fusing old and new. Its thirteen romantic suites are built in an old renovated brick house with modern amenities surrounded by a lovely garden. The heart of the hotel is a chef restaurant with an open kitchen offering a culinary and social adventure. And there is also a story behind it.
Alegra – A Romantic Hotel in Ein Kerem
Alegra hotel was named after Alegra Belo, a beautiful Jewish girl that fell in love with a Christian-Arab man. She followed him to Betlehem, converted to Christianity and they got married and moved together to this house in Ein Kerem. A very romantic story!
The house was built in 1930 and was converted into a hotel as it is now in 2010. It was fully refurbished and renewed, preserving the original architectural characteristics while adding modern facilities. The architecture is a mix of stone, metal and glass that brings natural light inside. The décor is mostly old-style furniture and contemporary art artefacts with intense colors that create a fascinating yet appealing contrast. It took me quite a while to explore it even though the house is rather small.


The hotel’s charm is not only the house; it is also in the garden and terrace. The garden is beautiful and has some serene seating areas surrounded by trees and bushes, and a small paddling pool for the hot summer days. I can imagine myself sitting here and relaxing with a glass of wine and a good book, something I could not do because I was unlucky to stay there on the only rainy day of the spring! Speaking about wine, the hotel’s complimentary drinks corner includes free red wine in addition to espresso and tea, which I was still able to enjoy!


Alegra’s rooftop terrace has scenic view, said to be the best viewpoint in Ein Kerem, and I believe them, I could see from here the Church of the Visitation and the lovely Russian Church with the golden domes. In nice weather this is the place to hang out.

Our spacious room (or should I call it a studio or mini-suite) included a king size bed and an elevated sitting area elegantly decorated with a leather sofa and a glass desk. It had all the modern amenities such as flat screen TV, espresso machine and a safe deposit box. But most importantly, it had an oval-shaped old-style window with wooden shutters and the charming appeal of the Jerusalem style old buildings. The bathroom had glass walls and it felt like one big space, but don’t worry, it has an opaque door and curtain for some privacy.

The center of the hotel is the shared space with an open kitchen with seating areas where people get together. This is where the meals are served.

Season Restaurant – Alegra’s Chef Restaurant
Season is the hotel’s restaurant, featuring Chef Yaron Vinkler.  If you ever dreamed about a private chef, you will find this experience here! We had dinner and breakfast here, both were extraordinary.
Dinner is a fabulous dining experience. First, because Yaron and his staff are cooking in an open kitchen and it is fascinating to watch them at work. Secondly, because of the interaction with Yaron and the other guests. Lastly, because the food is fantastic! Already before dinner we met the other guests who offered to join them and shared their wine with us, a Syrah from Flam winery. The get-together of the guests is part of what the hotel encourages, and it felt warm and intimate. Yaron made sure he knows our food preferences and served us a fitted six course tasting meal. We started with fresh Focaccia from the pizza oven with dips, and continued with ceviche, fabulous mushroom soup, fish filet (or cauliflower risotto substitute), entrecote steak and dessert. All were beautifully served and rich with fresh herbs and flavors. 



After dinner, we sat with Yaron for a chat and a whiskey. He told us that he also does events catering and culinary tours in Jerusalem. The restaurant is also open for dining for those not staying at the hotel and for events, but reservation is needed, and dinner costs NIS 270, which is worth the price for this unique experience.
Breakfast here is served at the table (not buffet style) and is made of an endless number of plates - delicious chef quality breads and pastry, tapas, salad, cheeses, eggs and fresh orange and pomegranate juices and cappuccino. It includes a French croissant and a wonderful homemade apple straddle. You won’t get anything like this anywhere else!




Season restaurant is open to the public by reservation for breakfast and dinner, and brunch during the weekends but reservation is needed. Breakfast is NIS 110. The restaurant is not kosher.
The room price at Alegra Hotel starts from NIS 1,050.
Information: Alegra Boutique Hotel Jerusalem,  www.hotelalegra.com, +972-2-650-0506
Ein Kerem
Alegra is situated in Ein Kerem, a south west neighborhood of Jerusalem. Ein Kerem was established on the remains of a Palestinian village that was deserted during the independence war in 1948. Ein Kerem is also the birthplace of John the Baptist and is the home of a number of churches and convents. We enjoyed visiting the churches of John the Baptist and the beautiful Church of the Visitation, although the latter (which I think is the nicest) requires climbing dozens of stairs up the hill. A few steps from the hotel we visited the convent of Le Soeurs de notre Dame de Sion. It has nice gardens and viewpoints, and a small, not very attractive chapel. Most sites, including Mary’s Spring, are within a walking distance from the hotel.
While Ein Kerem is part of Jerusalem now, it kept its rural character and is popular among artists. As you walk along the street, open your eyes for the small art galleries, restaurants and cafes, it is so much fun to discover them!
Tzuba Winery
Ein Kerem is located at the edge of Judean Hills, an area rich with vineyards. If you are interested in some wine tasting, Tzuba Winery is less than 15 minutes' drive from Ein Kerem. Tzuba Winery is an estate winery, which means it is located near the vineyards. The visitors center Gat Gefen offers a guided visit to the vineyards and the winery, and wine tasting. There are a number of ancient wine presses here, which can be visited as part of the vineyards tour. We visited the winery and met Paul Dove, Tzuba’s winemaker who told us about the winery and the wine making process. The harvest is manual, which increases the wine quality. We tasted a number of the good wines here and picked a blend named Metzuda at the winery’s wine shop. The wines are kosher. There is a tour every Friday or by reservation. The visitors center is open Sun-Thu 10:00-16:00 and Friday 10:00-14:00.
Gat Gefen visitors center, Tzuba Winery, Tzuba, tzubawinery.co.il, +972-2-534-7000.
The writer was a guest of Alegra Hotel and Tzuba Winery

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