Amirey Hagalil: Boutique luxury with a killer view

The views of the Kinneret are gorgeous and there are inviting seating areas scattered around the grounds of the hotel as well as inside.

 THE AMAZING view from Amirey Hagalil. (photo credit: ZEHAVIT TSABARI)
THE AMAZING view from Amirey Hagalil.
(photo credit: ZEHAVIT TSABARI)

My husband and I stayed at Amirey Hagalil more than 20 years ago and I still remember the large olive tree in the center of the lobby. When I was invited to return to the hotel I wondered if the tree would still be there. Happily it was, as the centerpiece of a relaxing lobby and a special 25-room boutique hotel.

First the setting. The hotel is about 500 yards up the hill from Amirim, the vegetarian moshav, above the Kinneret and west of Tzfat. The views of the Kinneret are gorgeous and there are inviting seating areas scattered around the grounds of the hotel as well as inside. Several times during my short stay, I found myself sitting on a bench enjoying the view without feeling I needed to check my phone. I just sat quietly, breathed deeply and relaxed.

In the lobby, along with the olive tree, there is a library of books in Hebrew and English as well as games that can be borrowed. There is a tea and coffee corner, with a machine that makes very good barista-style drinks, along with freshly baked cakes and dates. There’s something very luxurious about being able to get coffee and cake whenever you want it.

There is also a full-service spa with six treatment rooms and a wide array of treatments. Zehavit, my masseuse, gave me a combined Swedish and shiatsu massage that left me feeling like I was floating on a cloud. The spa also has a sauna and a jacuzzi. The hotel does not have a pool, but hotel guests get free entrance to the pool at Amirim, which also has separate women’s hours in the mornings if that is something that interests you.

Outside the spa in the lobby there are comfortable chaise lounges where my husband and I spent a pleasant hour reading and sipping a cappuccino before dinner.

 THE LOBBY of the hotel. (credit: RAN SHALAF) THE LOBBY of the hotel. (credit: RAN SHALAF)

The rooms are special. The hotel treated us to a suite which was large and very comfortable. The shower alone was big enough to hold a small cocktail party inside and the shower head was huge! There are robes and slippers as befits any spa hotel worth its salt. There was a large balcony with a view of the Kinneret which was especially beautiful at night.

Half-board is included in each stay. I appreciated not having to even think about where to go for dinner and not having to get in the car to go anywhere. The hotel restaurant has a lovely setting and the food can compete with any chef restaurant in Israel. Chef Itai Leibovich knows what he’s doing.

For dinner, you get a small loaf of homemade bread with several dips. I found the smoked eggplant cream dip delicious and its black color intriguing. That was followed by a cup of cream of tomato soup that had me looking for every drop. For the main course there were nine choices including one vegetarian dish and one vegan dish.

For an extra NIS 35 ($10) you can order the special of an entrecote steak from FEEDLOT, which chef Itai said was an Argentinian company that offers free-range beef. It was one of the best steaks I’ve had in my life. When I ordered it, Itai looked a little disappointed as he said his other dishes showed more of his creativity. So I agreed to taste the brisket (anything for my readers) which was lightly smoked in a tamarind glaze. Also delicious. My husband chose the salmon fillet which was served in an eggroll wrapper making it crunchy and delicious.

There is also a choice of desserts. My chocoholic life partner chose the chocolate concoction, and I went with a lime meringue pie that looked as good as it tasted.

The meal comes with fresh lemonade and coffee or tea.

You can eat there without staying at the hotel

Now as a reward for those of you who’ve read this far, here is the good news. You can eat at the restaurant (by reservation) even if you are not staying in the hotel. The meal costs just NIS 155 ($45) per person, making it one of the best value for money (VFM) deals out there.

 THE JACUZZI in the spa. (credit: VICKY COHEN) THE JACUZZI in the spa. (credit: VICKY COHEN)

Now what did we do on our little Galilee get-away? The first day we had brunch in Rosh Pina and met friends for rafting on the Jordan River. A relaxing way to spend an afternoon. The second day we drove to the Golan to Ein Hakshatot, a rebuilt synagogue that was destroyed by an earthquake in 749 CE. I’ve been wanting to visit for years and found the synagogue quite moving. We then joined what seemed like every haredi schoolchild in Israel for the madjrasa water hike in the southern Golan. We were trapped between a large group from a girls school, some of whom were terrified of the water, and an equally large and very loud group from a boys school. Next time we’ll go when school is in session.

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The writer was a guest of the hotel.