The newest luxury hotel to be added to the Jerusalem scene was the Mamilla Hotel in the summer of 2009. Like the other two hotels on our brief hotel tour, the central location of the property allows for sweeping views of the old city; and what is more, the hotel is also attached directly to the famed Mamilla Mall, its namesake. What a special place it is. On any given day, you can see religious men toting their recognizable black hats next to bare-headed secular Jews, robed Armenian monks, Christian locals, backpacking tourists and even a few Palestinians thrown in the mix. It is a true melting pot; a blending of people, backgrounds, ethnicities and political persuasions.
Perched just outside the Jaffa Gate that welcomes you into the old city, the Mamilla development sits now on what was once a slummy and dangerous, politically contested 'no man's land' following the 1967 war. Today, after 30 years in the making, it has been turned into an attention-worthy 28-acre mixed-use piece of paradise, that is home to upscale retail, fine dining, prominent businesses, top of the line homes and - you guessed it - hotels, including our spotlight hotel of the day. Created by genius architect Moshe Safdie, who also designed Columbus Center in New York City, the luxurious Mamilla Hotel has a contemporary, sophisticated look that is a perfect marriage between sleek minimalism and local Jerusalem-esque aesthetic.
Actually, the Mamilla hotel and mall is one of the best examples that I have seen in Jerusalem of this 'local aesthetic'. You see, all building projects here in Jerusalem, according to city law, must be built using local Jerusalem stone, a light-colored limestone that is typical of the buildings, temples, roads and alleyways in existence here since ancient times. One of the first things, in fact, that you will notice about Jerusalem when you first drive up the hill into the city is the rolling green hills dotted with Jerusalem stone as far as the eye can see. The same sort of rules apply to different cities of the world, including Santorini and Mykonos in the Greek Islands where you will see a landscape of white houses covered with blue thatched roofs; or in Florence, Italy, a land characterized by rustic red roofs. It makes for quite a beautiful visual and a photographer's paradise.
Going back to Mamilla Hotel, not only does it have that quintessential Jerusalem stone 'look', but also, no other hotel does a better job of seemingly hiding away into its natural and historic surroundings. It looks almost invisible from a distance. Check out the far right side of the picture on the left (the hotel is on the left and the attached mall is on the right). From afar, those images on the right just look like landscaped terracing or buttresses supporting the weight of the old city. However, in reality, every detail was carefully crafted and manipulated to look as natural as possible, in order to blend in with the neighboring world. It should come as no surprise then that these painstaking efforts resulted in the accumulation of numerous awards and prizes for the architect's unique ability to honor the Jerusalem building code and for doing so in a beautiful, seamless and respectful way.
|Rooftop Deck & Wine Bar|
Although the hotel blends in seamlessly with its surroundings, what you will find on the inside will shock you in its contrast from the outside world. According to their website, the hotel recently entered the Sunday Times Travel Magazine's "World's Best 100 Hotels" and Conde Nast Traveler's UK and US editions' "Hot List 2010". I will keep you waiting no more. Let me introduce you to the celebrated Mamilla Jerusalem Hotel:
GARDENS & TERRACES:
DOWNSTAIRS BALLROOMS & CONFERENCE ROOMS:
Kind of has the feel of a W hotel, doesn't it? I think so, at least. I will definitely be going back to check out the Mirror Bar on a busy Friday or Saturday night. If you're curious to see the rooms, you will have to check it out on the internet. We sneaked around on one floor to check it out, but quickly left after a few strange looks from the cleaning guys. Oops! Hope you enjoyed the visit at Mamilla, it's a beautiful place and is demonstrative of the changing landscape around this neck of the woods.