Besides being spoiled for choices of dining options within the hotel, the centrally located Mamilla offered a view of the Old City, proximity to the historic sites and an indulgent environ addressing elevated comfort levels
It was a very special welcome to Jerusalem on the first visit to the Israeli city. Arrival in the late afternoon was a dramatic time to behold one of the world’s oldest places located between the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean on an extensive stretch of elevated flat land in the Judean Mountains.
The light of a sun preparing to set basked the stonewalls in a gold hue that recalled the splendor of King David’s palace. It was a mesmerizing urban landscape, at once modern and ancient, with history, spirituality and literature adding to the mysticism of the place. The purpose of the trip was not a pilgrimage but being there was soul stirring, and the presence of Christ more than 2,000 years ago reached across the centuries.
Philippine Flag in the Lobby
Arrangements had been made at stay at the Mamilla Hotel, situated in the heart of the city and the center of a rich cultural heritage. The hotel management was on hand to greet, as the car pulled up at number 11 King Solomon Street, and like the unexpected view of a golden city, they pointed to the Philippine flag amongst several country colors that had been unfurled to welcome this guest. It was a pleasant surprise. Immediately, it felt like the best place to be.
Accommodations anywhere other than home contribute largely to the happy experience of traveling. Upon entering the premises of the Mamilla, there was an instinctive feeling that the visit was going to be good. The property that has 194 guest rooms and suites belongs to the collection of The Leading Hotels of the World. It prides itself for combining Jerusalemite culture and customs with the world-class services expected of a luxury establishment.
Chinese Chairs and Italian Couches
Moshe Safdie and Piero Lissoni did a fine job in creating a refined establishment with a lobby that was made warm and hospitable by well-thought out lighting and design elements that added texture and punctuations of color. Mr. Safdie, whose portfolio includes among others the Columbus Center in New York and Montreal’s Habitat 67 residential community, is also the man responsible for the new Terminal 3 in the Ben Gurion Airport.
Adhering to the Jerusalem law to use only the local Jerusalem stone, which is a local limestone, he created an homage to the ancient walls without precluding the current century. Modernity respected the Jerusalem architectural aesthetic in the premium hotel.
Mr. Safie’s collaboration with noted Italian architect and contemporary furniture designer Piero Lissoni was a complimentary combination. His minimalist aesthetic that have defined his works with Poltrona Frau, Kartell, Alessi, Cassina and Boffi assigned the interiors a modern sophistication with a toned down finish and a clever manipulation of Jerusalem light in the public places. Modern furnishings and antiques came together tastefully and comfortably in the Chinese and Italian pieces.
Frosted Crystal Walls
The thought that went into creating the public spaces were apparent in the rooms. Muted colors set off by the rich dark wood flooring was conductive to relaxing. Bespoke furniture met discriminating standards for form and function with comfort. Overhead, the bedside wall indulged the locality with exposed Jerusalem Stone blocks, for texture and character. A large metal headboard was another nod to the contemporary bent.
Liquid crystal bathroom walls created the illusion of more space, extending the room to include the cascading rectangular bathtub. Provisions were made for privacy and modesty through the touch of a button that frosted the transparency like a veil.
Cheese Curiosity for Breakfast
Breakfast was a delightful affair at the main dining hall with a spread that served local and international fare. Among the selection of cheeses was an unusual one called Grandson noticed a dagger, which had distinctive flavor. Happy Fish on the second floor served all-day specialities with an option to dine outdoor overlooking the promenade with shops. There was the Mirror Bar for cocktails and after dinner lounging beside an enclosed Cigar Lounge.
The Winery was a good venue to discover the excellent kosher wines produced in the country. Not much of Israeli wines are available in the international market because of the hometown demand. The vineyards here produce premium quality wines that have topped the list in reputable blind tasting reviews. The Winery is fortunately stocked with one of the largest selections in the country and serve the hechsher marked bottles on antique wooden counters, however, it was the Rooftop that served the most extraordinary experience of dining with a view of the Old City with a good steak.
A Stroll Away from the Tower of David
The address for the next few days proved to be a most convenient place to explore Jerusalem on foot. The pedestrian promenade beside the hotel could be accessed through a private stairway in Happy Fish. Shops lined the promenade that ended close to the gates of the Old City.
The local tram was a short walk from the main entrance although following the route on foot was a good way to discover the vicinity and get a feel of the place and try traditional food.
After half a day of wandering around, the Mamilla’s Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Center was an indulgent treat. A spa and gym covered 1000 square meters in the facility conceived to provide remedies for tired bodies and spirits. The 2016 Conde Nast Traveler Gold List included it among The Most Tranquil Spas in the World. Restoration and rejuvenation Spas in the World. Restoration and rejuvenation options incorporate music, healthy food and drinks, treatments and therapies. Submitting to the expertise of the trained therapists can be the preface to a restful night’s sleep. The nocturnal repose is the best way to prepare for another day of discovering Jerusalem after a good breakfast.
By Anna Isabel C. Sobrepena