Time Out: Old faithful

One of Jerusalem’s reliable hotels, the Inbal, was recently crowned 4th in the Middle East – a good reason to pay a visit.

Inbal Hotel 370 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Inbal Hotel 370
(photo credit: Courtesy)
There are several hotels in Jerusalem that have existed for decades and are well known as reliable choices for tourists and groups, such as the Inbal Hotel. Yet when Conde Nast Traveler ranked the Inbal as its top-rated hotel in Israel and fourth in the Middle East, it was clear that this “old reliable” choice warranted a second look.
The rooms at the Inbal are very spacious, with the kind of massive, comfortable beds you won’t want to get out of in the morning. Many of the rooms have a beautiful view of the Old City walls and the Hinnom Valley. At the same time, who wants to spend all day in their room? Some of the best aspects of the hotel are found when you walk out of your door.
Israeli hotels are famous for their breakfasts, and the Inbal does not disappoint. The most important meal of the day could also easily be the biggest, with a huge selection of everything from waffles and salads to shakshuka and nearly a dozen cheeses. The hotel’s bagels taste like they just came from an oven in Manhattan; and, of course, there is plenty of cream cheese and lox.
For the rest of the day, the hotel’s in-house restaurant, Sofia, is just as good, albeit a bit pricy. However, unlike many other high-priced restaurants, diners get their money’s worth at Sofia. The dishes are large and filling. The focaccia appetizer, for example, could be a meal on its own.
Sofia’s menu features a wide selection of fish and Italian dishes by chef Moti Buchbut, who has won gold medals at numerous international competitions. His specialty is baked goods. The bread in the restaurant is delicious, as are the desserts. Buchbut’s chocolate ravioli, a crunchy pastry filled with chocolate sauce, is unparalleled. Let’s just say that this reviewer was very hesitant about sharing a bite with a friend and losing out on a morsel of the dessert.
Guests staying on the Inbal’s executive floors have access to a business lounge that actually makes going to the restaurant almost unnecessary (if it weren’t for the desserts). The lounge has a buffet area with hot and cold food throughout the day, as well as alcoholic beverages in the evening. Anyone who needs a quiet place with free wi-fi (which is available throughout the hotel) and newspapers can also snack on sandwiches, salads and soups. However, those who do not bring along a laptop or tablet may be stuck waiting in line, as the executive lounge has only one computer.
The Inbal Hotel also features a health center with a gym and swimming pool, as well as a spa with 13 massage treatments and six kinds of facials. Its feature Inbal Massage is like 90 minutes in heaven: It is an hour-long full-body massage, followed by a half-hour foot massage. The staff is quiet and courteous, and at the end you feel like you were floating on a cloud.
Although the hotel itself is excellent, there is an issue of location. The Inbal, which is located at the top of the Liberty Bell Park, is within walking distance of the boutiques and cafes on Emek Refaim Street, as well as the Jerusalem Cinematheque, Yemin Moshe and the Menachem Begin Heritage Center. However, some of the other highlights of any visit to Jerusalem are a bit farther off. The Old City is a trek for a religious family. In addition, the Inbal is relatively far from Ben- Yehuda Street, Jerusalem’s downtown area and nightlife center. At the same time, it’s easy to overcome this problem with the many bus lines that stop close to the hotel. For guests with cars, the Inbal has free parking.
■ The writer was a guest of the hotel.