Staying at Jerusalem's incredible Mamilla Hotel

The writer visited the Mamilla Hotel for a great "staycation" in Jerusalem.

 JERUSALEM’S MAMILLA Hotel is the perfect destination for a capital getaway. (photo credit: Mamilla Hotel)
JERUSALEM’S MAMILLA Hotel is the perfect destination for a capital getaway.
(photo credit: Mamilla Hotel)

There is something about going to a hotel in your own city that seems faintly illicit. Why would you go to a hotel just a few minutes' drive away unless you were doing something that you shouldn’t be doing? But when I was offered an overnight “staycation” at the Mamilla Hotel I happily accepted.

I’ve given lectures to quite a few American tour groups at the hotel but never stayed there. I arrived exactly at 3 p.m. when the hotel said my room would be ready and had the advantage of some alone time before my favorite husband arrived around 5:30 p.m. The hotel lobby is beautiful and smells really good (they apparently have a signature scent).

The pool is not on the rooftop as in many hotels but underground. I was alone when I got to the pool at 4 p.m. It is large but not deep, which was perfect for me. I swam and then walked back and forth for about 20 minutes. When I got out and lay down on the comfortable chaise lounge to read my trashy novel (no judgment please), a couple arrived to swim. The best of all was that the pool was heated.

I then went back up to my room to rest before dinner on an insanely comfortable bed. The rooms are large and come equipped with robes and slippers as well as luxury toiletries. The toilet, bathroom, and shower are in separate areas all encased with glass rather than separated by a wall, and there is a very cool button you can push to turn the glass wall opaque if you want a little more privacy.

My husband arrived after work (one of us has to work for a living) and we headed up to the Mamilla Rooftop for cocktails before dinner. The Rooftop has one of the most beautiful views in Jerusalem and the sunset was simply stunning.

 JERUSALEM’S MAMILLA Hotel is the perfect destination for a capital getaway. (credit: Mamilla Hotel)
JERUSALEM’S MAMILLA Hotel is the perfect destination for a capital getaway. (credit: Mamilla Hotel)

I had a special cocktail made of gin that had been infused with red currants and sparkling water and my husband had a sour apple cocktail. Both were delicious as we watched the sun go down and the super-moon gradually rise in the sky.

Sampling amazing wines

Elisha and I began geeking out on wine, and soon I was enjoying a flight of three white wines including one from a winery that was new to me, Telem, in the West Bank. If you’re a wine geek like I am, there are few things more exciting than finding a new winery and this one offered very mineral flavors that tasted almost like licking a rock. Trust me, that’s a good thing in wine-speak).

We then went downstairs to the Happy Fish restaurant which has special “Greek nights” every Tuesday with Greek-inspired specials and live music. Trying to be nice they seated us right next to the musicians who were just warming up. We soon saw that our aging ears would suffer and asked to be moved further away.

Happy Fish, which is dairy and parve and has mehadrin kashrut supervision, has both an inside area and a large outdoor terrace that overlooks the Mamilla mall. It was quite pleasant sitting outside and people-watching the folks down below.

Along with the regular menu, there are four special dishes for Greek Tuesdays. All main dishes come with different salads, including an egg salad with cooked onions, which my husband raved about, and beets cooked in labaneh. 

We each ordered one of the evening specials. He chose the Covina and summer greens (NIS 172) which came with broccoli, peas, beans, and bok choy on a bed of pumpkin cream and mascarpone. I chose the European sea bass and herbs (NIS 168) with garlic butter, Magi tomatoes, lemon, ouzo, and potatoes. The fish was fresh and the sauce was delicious. The fish was served whole, but I asked if they would cut the head off.

The next morning we enjoyed the extensive buffet breakfast, one of the best I’ve seen at hotels in Israel. I quickly located lox, my favorite food, and built a breakfast around it.

There was good coffee (served strong as I requested), fresh squeezed orange juice, and many other choices. Instead of an omelet, I went with an egg souffle, which was excellent. I left the breakfast feeling satisfied but not overfull, and slowly made my way back up to my room for a few more moments on vacation. 

I returned to the real world feeling refreshed from a great staycation.

The writer was a guest of the hotel.