If ever there were evidence that Jerusalem is having a moment, it’s the inclusion of the city’s swish Mamilla Hotel in the barometer of luxury that is the Condé Nast Traveller 2010 Hotlist – both UK and US versions!
Situated in the eponymous Mamilla district in the heart of the City, just a few moments from the Jaffa Gate, the hotel boasts magnificent views of the Old City walls and The Tower of David. The structure was designed by pioneering Israeli American architect, Moshe Safdie whose striking modernist facade is crafted from traditional Jerusalem stone. To be fair, he wouldn’t have had much choice in the matter as all new construction in the city must, by law, use the local light-hued limestone to protect the city’s ancient ambience, however, his fusion of past and present is indeed inspired.
Milanese interior designer, Piero Lissoni, has continued the theme inside, utilizing the same stone on feature walls of the hotel’s 194 individually crafted bedrooms to complement the natural oak of the floorboards and massive metal headboards. And in a more contemporary twist, the bathrooms are separated from the bedrooms with liquid-crystal walls which turn opaque at the touch of a button (and could keep you amused for hours!)
However, the hotel’s stunning rooftop restaurant which has just reopened for the summer season should exert enough of a pull to get you out and about. Executive chef, Roy Entebbe serves up Italian and local specialities with an emphasis on fresh and seasonal ingredients from the foccaccia bread fired up in the onsite oven to grilled meat and fish dishes, fresh salads and delicious desserts.
And then for night owls, there’s the Mirror Bar – complete with resident DJ – showcasing Israel's boutique wineries and serving multicultural tapas plus a cigar lounge as well.
The soon-to-be-opened Wellbeing Spa and Gym offering a wide range of holistic treatments also boasts a statement pool with rich violent walls and pillars – not to mention its own sun deck.
This summer will also see the eagerly anticipated opening of the Israel Museum (home to the Dead Sea Scrolls) with its new glass walled pavilions scheduled to open in July. The $80 million renewal project has been realised by James Carpenter Design Associates and Efrat-Kowalsky Architects and upcoming exhibitions will include a pair of site-specific works by artists Anish Kapoor and Olafur Eliasson.
Factor in the Jerusalem Festival of Lights (June 9-16) when the world’s greatest light sculptors descend on the city with breathtaking pyrotechnic displays projected onto architectural sites and the ten-day Jerusalem Film Festival in July, this is certainly a city exuding an infectious new energy.