Since it opened, I had wanted to stay at the Cramim Hotel, part of Isrotel’s Exclusive Collection. But as I live in Jerusalem, it always seemed a little bit of a waste to vacation so close to home. When Isrotel invited me to spend a Shabbat at the hotel during the activities after the Terravino wine competition, I jumped at the chance.
Even before you walk into the Cramim (which means vineyards in Hebrew) you feel your blood pressure go down. The grounds are elegant, surrounded by vineyards, and a giant olive tree stands next to the entrance. The hotel is built on a hill in Kiryat Anavim and the view from the hotel is stunning.
Inside, the wine theme continues. If you are a wine geek like me, you will be in heaven. But even if you’re not, you will love the hotel. Across from the check-in desk in the lobby every afternoon around 3 p.m., there is a complementary welcome drink of “spiced Cabernet must with raisins, cranberries, anis, allspice and cinnamon.” The must is what is left of the grapes after they have been pressed for wine. There are also complementary little jellied candles also made from wine.
The rooms are elegant and beautifully furnished. The bathroom has three separate areas, and has both a large egg-shaped bathtub and a large shower. On the bed are bathrobes, although unlike other spa hotels I’ve visited, bathrobes are not allowed in the dining room. In keeping with the wine theme, the toiletries are made with wine and there are posters of grapes and quotations about wine scattered around the hotel.
We arrived Friday morning and when we returned to our room after several wine-soaked workshops as part of the Terravino international wine competition, there was a lovely surprise waiting for us – cut-up fruit, a bottle of wine, and fancy chocolates. A nice touch that meant a lot.
We spent several hours at the spa on Shabbat afternoon and it was so relaxing. There is a small, but well-equipped gym, and a nice-sized pool and two Jacuzzis surrounded with comfortable chaise lounges. In the warm weather, there is an infinity pool outside, also with chaise lounges.
What about the food, you ask? It’s really, really good. I love hotel breakfasts and the one at Cramim did not disappoint. There is perhaps less choice than at other hotel breakfasts, but a platter of very good lox made up for that. Along with being a wine geek, I am also a coffee snob, and coffee on Friday made fresh by a barista was excellent. Because of Shabbat, there is only filter coffee on Saturday, and it was not strong enough for me.
As for Friday-night dinner, there was one chef, a young man from Jordan, rolling sushi, and another cutting filet mignon, served in a wine sauce with asparagus. I didn’t even look at anything else! When I went back for a second slice, the chef tested the temperature of the meat and sent it back because it was not hot enough. It is that attention to detail that makes this hotel special.
There are also free optional activities, including a 5 km. yoga power-walk every day, which I really did plan to do, but didn’t. There is water aerobics and even a swimming coach to help with style. There is a snack bar next to the indoor pool if you want a snack between breakfast and dinner.
One activity I did enjoy was the complementary wine tasting in the hotel’s boutique wine bar. The wine tasting is offered several times a day in both Hebrew and English, but you need to sign up in advance as there are only about ten seats at the bar. The sommelier did a nice job explaining the wines we were about to taste, all of which can be purchased at the wine bar. Not to be missed.
I had only one problem at the Cramim hotel. When it came time to leave on Saturday night, I got very sad. I’m already planning my next visit.
The writer was a guest of the hotel