1001 Nights at Mt. Zion Hotel in Jerusalem

DSCN0263

It is winter in Jerusalem and there are alarming news running on TV about the imminent coming of a serious wave of snow – to be read that will last maybe one, two days instead of a couple of hours. As winter is not my friend and the last place on earth I want to be bothered by snow is in Jerusalem, I dream about a warm place where I can forget about cold and other bad snowy news. At least for one night, Mt. Zion Hotel is the perfect choice.

DSCN0264I passed near the hotel many times when on my way back from the city center, but was never too curious to have a look inside. Now, I have enough free time for slowly walking there from the city center – around 30 relaxed minutes. It is situated very close from the lively Tahana Rishona, where regularly events are taking place, but also from the tasty and affordable restaurants in Rehavia. Although close to entertainment areas, it is very quiet and discrete.DSCN0265

As the check-in takes place around 14.00 o’clock, I still have time to admire the stylish metal furniture with comfy blue pillows and the old Oriental carpets. I try to move from a place to another, curious to test many vantage points. The hotel overlooks the Hinnom Valley, the old city walls and the David’s citadel and the historical Yemin Moshe area.

DSCN0279Everything is suited to bring you peace and relaxation. I instantly fell in love with the painted wood of the furniture and the mixture between delicate vegetation and metal works. I fill my time reading various leaflets with information about tours and other attractions in English, Russian, French or Spanish or having a look at the good looking cakes from the bar. The friendly reception personnel, fluently English speakers, can help the guests to make various reservations, including airline and various flight details confirmations.DSCN0282I reach my room through a maze of corridors leading to a small courtyard and a garden surrounding a pool. Once I open the door of my suite, I am exactly in the kind of room I am expecting to have when on the road for a long time. Smooth colours, moderately stylish interior, a lot of space to both work and rest and relax.DSCN0283The metal framed furniture is also present here, but the intensive presence of wood brings the ambiance in the room to a more feminine, easy to cope with presence. I am in love with the colourful glass doorknobs of the close. I instantly find my place to the working table and happily start using the advantages of the very fast Internet – as everywhere in Israel, listen to that, dear Germany…Working in a space without windows is not necessarily my favourite type of office though.DSCN0284However, I can move with my laptop in the living room or on the balcony, but I am afraid will be too distracted to work by the beautiful view. The inviting bottle of red Yarden wine – one of my favourites – or the crafted cakes and fruits as well as the arabesques of the tables will be too disturbing. So I better go back into the windowless room to have some work done fast. DSCN0286

The rooms are fully equipped with everything you need in your modern life: big TV screen in the main living room and another small one in the bedroom, phone, hair dryer, tea and coffee making facilities, personal safe, air condition in every room. The doors lock automatically upon closing and everything makes you feel safe and relaxed. The beautiful smell brings you back to the world of 1001 Nights.

DSCN0288For longer or more family oriented stays, the kitchen offers the chance for preparing healthy meals. Out of the 137 rooms of the hotel, recently refurbished, 38 are Deluxe and family oriented, out of which 11 do have a balcony. The mini fridge can accommodate enough food for a couple of days. By request, a crib can be offered to families traveling with infants. Babysitting service is also offered. DSCN0296The Moroccan sink of the bathroom is another episode of the Oriental nights, with scents of lemon soap and various fine toiletries. DSCN0298A day in Jerusalem, either as a local or as a tourist is never easy, so spending time in the balcony and admiring the view is an inspired choice. Otherwise, those with more time can book a relaxing hammam stay or a spa treatment. The outdoors swimming is open from April till October.DSCN0304After going out to one of the many restaurants of the Tahana Rishona or Rehavia, the sweet treats from the room are the happy ending of the day. Bite after bite, I like to look more and more around in the suite, trying to figure out all the small details of the interior design. It seems that there is a duel between different strength of strong materials: stone, leather, metal, wood. Every single details is well balanced and harmonized by the choice of colours.DSCN0310In the morning, I woke up in the sound of the birds. The ecological and ergonomical pillows took a good care of my dreams and I feel fresh for a fresh start into the day. Just another beautiful day outside is waiting for me. Clearly, there is still a chance that there will not any winter in Jerusalem.DSCN0317Soon, I have to leave my secret retreat for the night, and I want to have one more look around my suite. These big walls were used since the end of the 19th century, at the beginning as an eye hospital. Mount Zion (Har Zion) is used as a hotel only in the last two decades, but it seems that the various redesigns brought the best from all worlds, with a lot of facilities and exquisite furniture and decoration choices for the guests.DSCN0319The breakfast helps me to forget that very soon I have to leave everything behind. The welcoming Israeli breakfast is waiting for me, with a mixture of various fruits and vegetables, fresh juices that can be made on the spot, traditional shakshuka. even cheesecake. For the summer mornings, the buffet can be tasted on the outside terrace. During the day, the restaurant and bar near the reception offers various special easy local meals, such as salmon filets, cheese plates, Greek and haloumi salad, falafel, kubeh or hummus as well as fresh sandwiches.DSCN0321

It is time to say ‘good bye’, but after such a lovely and welcoming stay, I plan to go back to enjoy some more spa and wellness one day. The sooner the better!

Disclaimer: I was offered a complimentary night at Mt. Zion Hotel, but the opinions are, as usual, my own

Advertisements

Afternoon tea chez King David Hotel in Jerusalem

DSCN0372

King David Hotel in Jerusalem is a legendary luxury destination not only in Israel, but in the entire region whose style hardly changed since it was created in 1931,  by the Jewish-Egyptian family Mosseri. What changes though is the style of the kitchen and the new gourmet influences brought here by French cooking experts that moved in the country in the last years.

DSCN0374

I visited the hotel back in January, a relatively quiet season compared with the busy activity you may notice right now till the end of September. Besides the usual customers of the hotel, there is hardly any personality that visited Jerusalem, from Michael Douglas to King Juan Carlos, that was not the guest of the hotel.

DSCN0384

With such an impressive list of guests, the standards were and will always be high at King David. The delicate changes operated regularly in the menu are aimed to offer the best possible experiences to the guests. In the lobby, little pieces of French gourmet art are a proof of the latest changes of the Jerusalem’s high class cuisine. This is where the complex standards of kosher cooking are embraced by the creative spirit of the French cuisine. A very successful meeting, my eyes and smell dare to say.

DSCN0431

Besides the intensive sightseeing and its part of story telling that I am shared – minutes before returning in the lobby was just chatting with one of the oldest employees of the hotel about how the bar mitzva party of Michael Douglas and Catherine Zetta Jones was celebrated here – I am here also for some special gourmet experiences. For instance, to try the relatively new – one year and a half ago only – afternoon tea menu. As for now, we have: English preciousness, French creativity and kosher delicacies. What can I get out of it? Till everything is ready, I am tempted with orange juice and a red beet and apple juice that took my breath away and brought back all the energies spent in intesive sightseeings in and around the city. The sweetness of the apple and the earth smell of the red beet are exactly portioned to produce a completely new and delicious result.

DSCN0435

While I am sipping my Lemon Grass Cream infusion, the brioches are arriving. The fulfilling smell of freshly baked pastry, ready to be tasted in the company of butter and strawberry jam. Wish I can spend every day tasting such mouth melting pieces of art.

DSCN0438

But there is much more to come. The 3-layered plates are each carrying some new foodie works of art. Small pieces of smoked caramelised salmon with soy sauce and traces of yolk, a high end selection of cheeses, among which my favourite goat cheese, Camembert and Gruyere, freshly produced in the North of Israel, with blueberries and slowly roasted tomatoes. Although I love the cheeses a lot, the caramelised salmon is just perfect, with the delicate fried fish covered in moderate sweetness. To be eaten only in small unforgettable bites. Since I am back in Berlin, I am obsessively trying to recreate the recipe, bust probably it will not happen before taking some special gourmet French classes.

DSCN0442

But the afternoon tea is not done yet. After the puffy pastry, and the gourmet bites, it follows the sweet part of the menu. It seems that the classical three-tiered plates are here replaced at King David by three-course meals. As everything in the menu, don’t expect abundance, but high style. The soft dough of the scones is aromated with raisins, rhum and vanilla, and accompanied by fresh sour cream at the room temperature and the fine tarts are complimentary to the simple freshness of the fruits.

When I finally have to leave this island of culinary wellness, I knew that the memory of so many special tastes will follow me for a long time. I was right and the remedy is to find the fastest way to be back soon. Where else can I find such a beautiful mixture of apple and red beet?

Disclaimer: I was the guest of King David Hotel for a special afternoon spent discovering the hotel (a dedicated post coming up soon), but the opinions are, as usual, my own.