Monday, March 14, 2016

American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem – Authentic Luxury Experience

American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem is a historical boutique hotel that provides a romantic authentic luxury experience in the spirit of the 19th century Jerusalem. If you are already planning to go to the Jerusalem – why not enjoy a unique experience in a 5 stars pampering ‘museum-like’ hotel?! Read below and you’ll surely take into consideration this lovely estate hotel the next time you visit Jerusalem. 
American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem – Authentic Luxury Experience

Let’s start with a little bit background of the hotel. The history of the hotel is quite interesting. It was the estate of the rich Effendi Pasha El Husseini. In the middle of the 19th century, a community of Americans from the Swedish Christian Utopian society settled in the place. This is how the complex got its name “The American Colony”. One of their vocations was a hostel, called the American Colony hostel. Around 1950 the colony’s territory was transformed into a hotel. The main building of the hotel is the harem that Pasha El Husseini built for his 4 wives.   The hotel was renovated and extended after the war of 1967 and functioned over the years as a neutral, independent, international hotel. It was very popular for politicians and international press that preferred not to take a side, and many diplomatic talks took place there (such as the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians). Famous people stayed there, including Winston Churchill, Tony Blaire, Lawrence Arabia, Michael Gorbachev, Edmund Allenby, and many famous actors. When you are in the lobby, lookup for the board with the names of the famous people who stayed there – it is near the reception.

American Colony hotel famous guests
When you walk around the hotel, look at the walls. This hotel is like a little museum – there are historical markers with information about each period of the building, photographs from the colony and of important figures of the American Colony that lived there, and antique objects from the colony. 

Below are a few photos of the American Colony hotel lobby. When you come here to stay or to visit, allow for some time to roam around and look at this lovely hotel. Here are pictures of the main lobby (where the famous photograph of the arched glass door overlooking the patio was taken).

 There are many beautiful spots around the hotel, like the herb garden (left hand side of the following photograph). At the entrance to the hotel you will find the souvenir shop, where you can have coffee, and there is a garden-restaurant as well. During the summer, one can dine in the well-groomed garden. 

The hotel spans a number of buildings. The central one, where the reception is, was the harem that was built in 1865, downstairs were the summer rooms, and upstairs were the winter rooms. This building has the lobby, the dining room, a restaurant, and the bar. On the second floor, there is a conference room for events, and a stunning balcony for receptions. All the buildings are designed in Jerusalem style with thick brick, the typical local stone, and arch-shaped windows. The decor and furniture are 19th century style. Below is a photograph of the main building, I took it in the morning from my room’s balcony.

The patio is located in the heart of the main buidling; it is a well-known feature of the hotel. During the summer it is full of flowers. I stayed in the winter, and it was still beautiful. You’ll see here the old olive tree, standing from the old days of the colony. You can relax here and enjoy the garden, have coffee, eat, or read. 

We stayed at a Pasha room on the East House. Each house is elegantly decorated, and the hall has a seating area, carpets and photographs from the colony era. The Pasha room is spacious, elegantly decorated in historical style with a large glass door to a balcony overlooking the main building of the hotel. The room has a huge bed with a comfortable mattress, a sitting area, a desk, a safe deposit box, a minibar and a flat multi-channel TV.
The bathroom is a pampering experience. The decor here is also colony style, but the bath is modern and of high luxury – bath tub (with an old-styled tap), an extra wide shower that can accommodate a couple, china, plenty of toiletries, including spa shoes and flip flops. To make the experience ideal, there are also bathrobes, a spray rainfall showerhead and underfloor heating. 

We had breakfast at the pleasant breakfast room. Its design is somewhat oriental with rugs on the walls. This contributes to the atmosphere and the calmness of the room. Have you noticed that the ceiling is blue? It is the original ceiling and can be observed all around the hotel. The tables are prepared with white linens. It is calm and quiet, the guests are mostly international. You may also have breakfast at the patio when the weather is nice (and it is almost always nice weather in Israel).
Food selection is huge. The hotel is not kosher, even though kosher meals can be ordered ahead of time. This means that unlike most hotel in Israel, you can get an omelet on Saturday, Shakshouka, Rosti, cooked mushrooms and tomatoes (English style), fresh cappuccino on Saturday, and bacon and sausage for breakfast. There is a selection of breads, cheeses, salads, and even Chumus and Baba ganoush. For those with a sweet tooth, there is a variety of tasty sweet pastries, fruits, cereal and granola, marmalades, nuts and dried fruit and Belgian waffles. 

After breakfast you can pamper yourself or do some exercise. The swimming pool is heated and open from May to October and is quite long for some good laps. There is a small gym with a pool view; while it is quite small, it is well equipped with the most modern equipment and there is also a sauna. In the summer, everything is blooming and the pool is lovely and cheerful. I stayed in the winter, and it is very calm and beautiful. 

In the evening, you can dine in the dining room or at the hotel’s restaurant with the fireplace, facing the pool. The bar here is active, you will find there a large selection of alcoholic beverages in authentic Jerusalem setting. 

The hotel is still a family business, owned by the descendents of the American Colony settlers. Management is Swiss by Gauer Hotels. It belongs to the Leading Hotels (LHW) network.
Some practical information: The hotel has 95 rooms and suites, 2 accessible rooms. There is free parking and free Wifi in the lobby and rooms. It is close to the old city and has good transportation options.
When you stay at the hotel, you may want to explore some restaurants nearby, and perhaps take a Segway tour. This blog has more posts about Jerusalem and about Israel.
Information: American Colony Hotel, Jerusalem
Disclosure: I was a guest of the hotel 

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