A winter vacation at the Mamilla Hotel in Jerusalem

Thi pre-spring vacation proved the right choice

The lobby of the Mamilla Hotel reflects the colors and textures of Jerusalem's Old City. (photo credit: AMIT GARON)
The lobby of the Mamilla Hotel reflects the colors and textures of Jerusalem's Old City.
(photo credit: AMIT GARON)
Jerusalem is never as beautiful as it is on a sunny day in the middle of winter, when the air is crisp and clear, the ancient walls of the Old City washed by rain and glistening in the sun, and the views of the different parts of Jerusalem simply stunning. This is why we like to spend a weekend in Jerusalem in the winter, and last January we decided to spend it in Mamilla Hotel where we took advantage of the hotel’s long “Cultural Weekend.”
Situated at the heart of the bustling city, between Jerusalem’s most celebrated historical sites and commercial contemporary hub, the 194-room hotel is set in an elegant modern building located next to a fashionable open-sky Mamilla Mall and a short stroll from the Jaffa Gate and the Old City, as well as the capital’s galleries and theaters.
Mamilla Hotel offers special theme-weekends, inviting guests to enjoy the hotel’s facilities as well as guest speakers, special spa menu, lectures, workshops and more. The themes span from culture to culinary and from politics to literature, offering guests of the special weekends, intimate talks with writers and artists, as well as concerts, visits to the Israel Museum and much more.
We were guests of the hotel for a special Culture Weekend and enjoyed, besides everything else, a talk with Israeli TV personality and actress Zofit Grant, as well as a lovely musical break with an a cappella group after Shabbat dinner.
The whole area of Mamilla – first mentioned as a water reserve built by Herod the Great and again during the 19th century, when the Ottomans built a commerce site here – was almost completely ruined during the years between 1948 and the Six Days War. After 1967, there were many attempts to restore the area but work started only in 1994, when the Alrov Group took over and built the shopping mall and the Mamilla Hotel, the David Citadel Hotel, a residence area and the Mamilla Mall.
A luxury city hotel, built from local Jerusalem limestone, the hotel’s design is both luxurious and warm, and the Rooftop Restaurant provides breathtaking views of the Old City. Other vantage points offer sites of the modern Jerusalem, and the dining room has a lovely enclosed patio stone garden that is my favorite resting spot.
There are studio rooms, executive rooms and suites, including the residence suite and the presidential suite – both frequently used for dignitaries who often frequent the city. We were lucky to get a spacious suite with a large bedroom and a separate sitting room equipped with a sofa bed, an espresso machine, mini-bar and TV, which can also be a second bedroom for families. The walk-in closet in the entrance provided plenty of room.
The uncluttered room decor, designed by Italian architect Piero Lissoni, offers guests stylish baths and walk-in showers, separated from the bedroom by glass walls that turn opaque with the flick of a switch.
THE BATHROOM is beautiful but offers little room for the guest’s cosmetics, and if you are looking for the hairdryer – it is located in the closet. The Bulgari soaps and shampoos are the kind you bring home with you after leaving the hotel, and the thick and large soft bath towels and bathrobes were everything one needs to feel pampered.
The large and very comfortable bed, the excellent white linens, fantastic pillows and feather-light duvets made us not want to leave the room. In fact, we slept so well we almost missed breakfast.
But we did manage to get to breakfast in time to enjoy a very rich spread of baked goods, cheeses, fish and sweets, as well as eggs made to order and wonderful pastries. Friday night dinner is also served here, offering a rich Shabbat spread of traditional dishes. Just outside the dining room, there is a very pretty patio garden with tables and sofas where one can eat during the summer, or simply take a break with the morning paper. This is one of my favorite spots at the Mamilla Hotel.
The stunning Akasha Wellbeing Center was named one of Condé Nast Traveler’s top nine spas in the world. It features Turkish hammams, a rich spa menu with hydro treatments, a variety of massages, including a couples’ massage, yoga and Pilates classes, health bar, indoor swimming pool, a rooftop sundeck and a very well-equipped fitness center with personal trainers available to guests.
We promised ourselves to take advantage of the gym and we even brought trainers with us, but ended up relaxing in our lovely room. Maybe next time. We did manage to book a massage, which we both enjoyed tremendously, and I even managed to swim a few lengths in the indoor heated swimming pool.
There are a few restaurants and bars on the premises: the Rooftop, Mirror Bar, Winery, Happy Fish, the Espresso bar and the Dining Room – all kosher. The Rooftop chef restaurant, which offers one of the most unforgettable views of Jerusalem, has a fantastic contemporary Israeli-international menu as well as a very knowledgeable sommelier who will be very happy to match local boutique wines to your menu choices.
Other dining options include the Mirror Bar, which serves tasty light dishes as well as a vast menu of wines and spirits, and a dairy brasserie-style café serving fish and dairy dishes. We didn’t manage to try the Happy Fish dairy restaurant but I am sure that it serves very good food as do all of the hotel’s restaurants and bars.
So whether you choose to stay here, have a special dinner at the Rooftop, coffee with friends at the coffee shop or a cocktail at the Mirror bar, the Mamilla Hotel is one of the best spots to start or end a visit to Jerusalem.
Mamilla Hotel, 11 Shlomo Hamelech St., Jerusalem.
Phone: 02-548-2200
The writer was a guest of the hotel.