One of the best views a hotel room can offer in Israel, and maybe the world, is that of the Old City of Jerusalem – especially at sundown and sunrise. Not many hotels can boast such a view from every room, but the David Citadel is one that can.
The David Citadel is adjacent to Mamilla Avenue, and within walking distance of many major tourist sites.
The avenue directly leads to the Old City’s main entrance, the Jaffa Gate, a short stroll from the heart of the ancient city.
The hotel opened in 1998 and has, over the years, been host to statesmen such as Bill Clinton and Vladimir Putin, as well as celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Kanye West and Mariah Carey. We arrived on a Friday afternoon, to celebrate my husband’s birthday, and were greeted as if we were celebrities ourselves. From the look of it, so were other guests who arrived at the same time, mostly American, English and French Jewish families who (as I gathered from eavesdropping to some conversations), return here on holidays and for family events, and enjoy hospitality that feels both luxurious and familiar.
In the past two years, the hotel, designed by the renowned Israeli architect Moshe Safdi, has undergone a massive renovation under the skillful hands of the Italian architect and designer Piero Lissoni. The renewal of the hotel included the redesign of its public spaces, suites and guest rooms, as well as the lobby, pool, spa, gym, entertaining halls, dining room and the business lounge.
The elegant style of Lissoni is exhibited everywhere you look, from the wooden floors to vintage paintings on the walls. The main colors are deep purple, gray hues and beige.
The 11-story hotel boasts 385 suites and guest rooms. The building itself is shaped like a horseshoe, with the balconies looking out onto the Old City, and the historic Tower of David.
THE HOTEL’S two Presidential Suites recently benefited from a superb designer facelift by Lissoni. The suites exhibit an exceptional level of craftsmanship and painstaking attention to detail. The light and spacious guest rooms feature sophisticated oak parquet flooring and embellished glass walls. There are private kitchens, offices and everything one needs to entertain, including a back-door entrance to the kitchen for staff.
All the rooms and suites are larger than those in many modern hotels, and suitable for families. There is also the possibility of getting adjoining rooms should you desire.
The design of the bathrooms is stunning, with marble tiles, a large bathtub and shower. The luxurious amenities by Bulgari (ah, the smell) gave me a real thrill, not to mention the amazingly large and thick bath towels, marble-covered shower and bath and all you could possibly need in order to feel pampered. The luxurious feeling continues in the room with the beautiful furnishings and amazing beds.
I find it hard to fall asleep in places other than my own bed. Here, the excellent pillows, the beddings, the super high-quality sheets and excellent mattress, made all the difference.
I took an afternoon nap, which I rarely get a chance to do at home, and woke up to breathtaking views of the Old City at sundown. We had a cup of espresso, made in our room using the machine and capsules (what a treat), and took a stroll down the street to build an appetite for Friday night dinner.
Families were gathering in the lobby, and people were making their way to the synagogue as we got back to the hotel. You can certainly feel the Shabbat descending here, and it is glorious.
Dinner is served on the fourth floor, where the main restaurant is located, as well as in the hotel’s Scala Restaurant and the Executive Lounge.
There are a few different dining areas.
The main one was laid out with long tables suitable for large families dining together. We took a table for two inside. Two small, freshly baked challot wrapped in white linen, as well as a Kiddush wine, were waiting on each table, adding to the Shabbat feeling.
The cuisine, led by Chef Avi Turgeman, tries to make all the guests feel at home for Shabbat by offering delicacies from the different Diasporas.
The rich starter buffet offered everything one could think of including three (!) different kinds of gefilte fish, Moroccan spicy fish (hreime), salads and more. The hot dishes included different meat, fish and chicken dishes to suit all palates.
The same was true about Shabbat lunch the next day, which included different kinds of cholent, along with brisket and many traditional delicacies.
OTHER DINING possibilities that we didn’t try include the Lobby Lounge.
Filled with natural sunlight filtering through an arched glass roof, and looking out over the swimming pool onto panoramic views of the Old City, the Lobby Lounge offers cakes as well as a variety of dairy specialties, cold salads, sandwiches, light drinks and alcoholic beverages, and a sushi bar.
It was a little too chilly for us to enter the swimming pool, even though it is heated, and there was a group of children who seemed to enjoy themselves tremendously. Nonetheless, we loved the panoramic view and could imagine ourselves there on a summer afternoon, watching the ever-changing play of light on the Old City while floating in the water.
Located below ground, the Spa at the David Citadel is a calm and serene retreat. The Spa is spread over 500 square meters and includes eight individual treatment rooms, two rooms for couples, wet and dry saunas, and a relaxation zone. The treatment menu is includes Reiki, reflexology, Ayurveda and Avianga, deep-tissue massage and Shiatsu, as well as body wraps and more. We treated ourselves, for the first time, to a couples’ treatment.
That included two therapists – who we both thought were among the best we ever had the pleasure of receiving a massage from – an opportunity to use the in-room Jacuzzi, along with a basket of fruit and a bottle of bubbly.
What a romantic treat! And what a way to end the perfect weekend in Jerusalem.
The hotel also features a very wellequipped gym overlooking the swimming pool, a beauty center, and a lovely, 100-sq.m. Children’s Play Center, beautifully designed by interior designer Sarit Shani Chai, with lovely English-speaking staff who welcome the children and guard over them. The design incorporates iconic Jerusalem landmarks into the center’s design – such as a corner stage that resembles the Jerusalem tunnels, a fruit and vegetable market representing the shuk at Mahaneh Yehuda, and a large windmill, reminiscent of the classic structure located in Yemin Moshe. The Children’s Center also includes a miniature kitchen, living room and doll house as well as a TV and computer corner There are a few meeting rooms for different-sized groups, and a huge banquet hall for weddings and bar/ bat Mitzvahs. The staff tells me that the hotel is renowned for creating the most elegant and successful private events and business occasions in Jerusalem.
We loved our stay at the hotel, enjoyed the luxurious design, the amazing views, the pampering room, the home-style food, and all the comforts. But most of all we were very impressed by the staff. Not only they were all – from the reception to the waiters in the restaurant, to the cleaners and the guest relations – excellent, knowledgeable and everso- helpful, but they all expressed the same thing: they love coming to work at the David Citadel, and that says something.
David Citadel Hotel
King David St. 7, Jerusalem
The writer was a guest of the hotel.