Joe Yudin owns Touring Israel, a company that specializes in “Lifestyle” tours of Israel.“In
1286 when King Henry came to Acre, he held a feast lasting fifteen days
at the Auberge of the Hospital of St. John. And it was the most
splendid feast they had seen for a hundred years…”
– The Templar of Tyre
in Gestes de Chiprois
Unfortunately for the crusading knights,
their empire would soon crumble and their capital city, Acre, would be
overrun, destroyed and rebuilt several times by Muslim invaders. Acre,
or Akko as it is known locally, has a rich history dating back more than
4,000 years. It is one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in
the world. Canaanites, Israelites, Phoenicians, Greeks, Jews, Romans,
Byzantines and Arab rulers all left their marks on the city, but it was
the Crusaders, Mamluks and Ottomans whose architecture endure until this
The Old City of Acre is a national park and UNESCO World
Heritage Site. Many of its sites are famous and well worth a visit such
as the Knights Hall, the Arab Shuk, Jazzar Pasha Mosque, the Old Port,
The Templar Tunnels, Tunisian Synagogue, Humus Said, the Turkish Baths,
the walls and moats among others. But to really get a feel for how some
of the royalty lived in Acre throughout the Middle Ages and Ottoman
Empire, one must spend some time in this ancient city by the sea. One
way to do that is to relax and tour in style at the newly opened Efendi
Hotel at the heart of the Old City.
Efendi Hotel is one of the best examples of Israel’s new fascination
with small, luxurious boutique hotels.The hotel is accessible by car but
due to a shortage of parking space in the surrounding area, the hotel’s
porters meet guests in the nearby parking via Acre’s narrow lanes. The
effect is that even before entering the hotel itself the guest is gently
immersed into the authentic atmosphere of this ancient Middle Eastern
town on the Mediterranean where little has changed in centuries.
in early 2012, and awarded one of the 50 best new hotels in the world
for 2012 by Travel & Leisure magazine, The Efendi Hotel is the pet
project of successful Israeli restaurateur, Uri Jeremias. A visit to his
famous “Uri Buri” seafood restaurant nearby is highly recommended. The
hotel is a product of eight years of painstaking restoration work. The
basic structure is made up of two connecting houses that date back
hundreds of years and much of the original buildings’ features have been
restored, such as the 400-year-old Turkish Bath or “Hamam” and the wine
cellar dating back to Crusader times.
The hotel consists of 12
rooms – each unique and featuring enormously high ceilings, some with
colorful frescoes, tasteful furnishings and a 5 star ambiance that is of
an international standard rarely encountered in Israel.
are several large lobbies separating the rooms, which give this
relatively small hotel the feeling of being a much larger property.
Since the old city of Acre is situated on a mini peninsula, many of the
rooms have sea views (or at least glimpses). The rooftop features a
stunning 360 degree panorama of the surrounding area including the
Mediterranean and the hills of the Galilee.
One of the biggest
mistakes that tourists make - both local and foreigners - is to visit
Acre as an hour or two stop during a whirlwind tour of the Galilee. The
Efendi hotel allows the upscale tourist to discover Acre as it should be
discovered: slowly.The Efendi Hotel
Louis IX Strett, Old Acre 24124Tel: (07) 472-99799http://www.efendi-hotel.com/Joe Yudin
became a licensed tour guide in 1999. He completed his Master’s degree
at the University of Haifa in the Land of Israel Studies and is
currently studying toward a PhD.