Shalom Life | April 19, 2014

Boutique Hotels: The Future of Jerusalem's Hospitality Industry

Over the past decade, several boutique hotels have opened up in Israel's capital, catering to members of the city's flourishing business scene

By: Ben Jacobson

Published: April 15th, 2014 in Business » Israel

Exploring the streets of the Holy City, one might have a hard time shaking the feeling that boutique hotels are taking over Jerusalem. A decade ago you could count the city's boutique hotels on less than one hand – basically, there was nothing happening other than the American Colony Hotel and the Mount Zion Hotel. But over the past ten years, about as many Jerusalem boutique hotels have opened up shop, representing 600% growth in this sector. And another four boutique hotels are currently in the works for Jerusalem, including one belonging to Israel's high-concept Orchid chain.

Among the city's most successful boutique hotels are the Harmony, targeting business travelers and located in a brand new tower on the downtown pedestrian mall's Yoel Solomon St., and the Dan Boutique, with its slick, contemporary design, rooftop sun deck and location just a block away from the new First Station recreation compound.


The elegant, classic American Colony Hotel (courtesy photo)

The company behind the Orchid chain recently purchased the building that used to house the landmark Zion Square Hotel for approximately $23 million. The investors plan to refurbish and reopen it as a luxury boutique hotel with 117 rooms. A rooftop gourmet restaurant with views of the Old City, a spa and a pool are all being planned to make it a truly spectacular hotel.

An unusual hotel that recently completed construction is the Arthur, owned by the Atlas chain. Named for the British Lord Arthur Balfour, the hotel's 54 large rooms are decorated in the style of the colonial 1930's, in order to provide tourists with a feel for the rich history of Jerusalem. The public spaces in the hotel combine Ottoman, British and Israeli interior design. The walls are covered with photographs of Jerusalem in the beginning of the 20th century, emphasizing the history of that period.

While the trend is certainly in line with what's happening with the hospitality industry worldwide, 600% growth in ten years is still puzzling to say the least. To further understand this trend, we must examine several aspects for why the boutique hotels format is a perfect match for the Jerusalem hotel scene.

For hoteliers the main plus is that boutique hotels only take up a small amount of land, so they can be built on prime real-estate in central locations near the Old City and the city center. This allows investors to open new boutiques in plots that don't have huge footprints, a major advantage in a city where every cobblestone goes for small fortunes.

Guests also appreciate the prime locations, which allow them to cross transportation off their list of concerns. With its tricky thoroughfares, general dearth of parking availability and an especially densely populated city center, Jerusalem isn't the most hospitable city for unfamiliar drivers.

Also, boutique hotels generally invest more in design, with an eye for detail and finish that makes for an extra pleasant stay. Boutique hotels have fewer rooms, so the existing rooms can be larger and the public space is usually more spacious. These hotels also put an emphasis on discreet and helpful service so that guests feel that all their needs are taken care of. It's all part of a business model that emphasizes lifestyle and value. Surprisingly, the rates at boutique hotels are often quite reasonable – for the same price or slightly more than an ordinary hotel belonging to a chain, a tourist can enjoy a more distinctly unusual experience.

The elegant Prima Royale Hotel, for example, is conveniently located near Mamilla, Yemin Moshe and the German Colony, so all the local action is within walking distance. For tourists who like to be a short walk away from eateries and shops, the Harmony Hotel is in a great location in the center of town. The Mount Zion Hotel, meanwhile, overlooks the Old City walls and the Valley of Hinnom, and it's also right near the Jerusalem Cinemateque and the Emek Refaim shopping district.


Ben Jacobson is a freelance blogger who specializes in content about culture, entertainment, media, travel and digital marketing. His writing about Israeli tourism has appeared in National Geographic, The Jerusalem Post, ISRAEL21c, Jerusalemite.net, ShalomIsraelTours.com, JerusalemSegwayTours.com, and beyond.

Photo Caption: A room at Atlas's new Arthur Hotel, currently holding TripAdvisor's top rated slot for the city, even outranking non-boutiques (courtesy photo)

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