The American Colony hotel’s pool features Italian glass tiles and locally sourced stones. // © 2015 The American Colony Hotel Jerusalem
Feature image (above): Brown TLV Urban Hotel’s rooftop is a relaxing daytime lounge; at night, it transforms into a buzzing bar with trendy Tel Aviv dwellers. // © 2015 Brown TLV Urban Hotel
Visitors to Israel know that Jerusalem, the holy city, is the Old World jewel in Israel’s crown. Brimming with historical treasures, travelers can imagine what it was like when King David’s subjects walked the cobbled streets.
Less than two hours away, Israel’s other major city, Tel Aviv is what Israelis call the “bubble” of their country — a warm, happy and modern city seemingly shielded from the lengthy history of struggle that still runs through Jerusalem. In each city, travelers can experience Israel — both old and new — in two distinct hotels that put their respective city’s best foot forward.
The American Colony Hotel Jerusalem
In Jerusalem, The American Colony hotel has stood since the 1800s. Beginning as a settlement for Americans who immigrated from the U.S. to Israel, the property has been little altered from its first iteration, although many of the rooms have been updated or repurposed.
There are now four buildings consisting of 96 rooms total, with a choice of suites, junior suites, penthouse suites and the Pasha Deluxe rooms. The suites in the Main House were once the bedrooms of the colonizing family, and guests can experience the original stone structure that offers charm and history.
A beautifully extensive breakfast buffet is served in the dining room, and guests can order libations and snack on olives and roasted nuts in the cozy Cellar Bar, which was once the house’s dairy. Facilities include a heated pool outfitted with energy- and water-saving technology, a fitness center, a massage station, a sauna, a business center and The American Colony shops, which sell books and local treasures such as antiques and rugs.
Historical black-and-white photos line the hallway walls, showing what life was like for the family that originally occupied the hotel. One of the hotel’s best features is its close proximity to the Damascus Gate, which opens into the Old City of Jerusalem.
Brown TLV Urban Hotel
Opened more than 100 years after The American Colony Hotel Jerusalem, and located two hours away by car, is Brown TLV Urban Hotel. Part of Tel Aviv Boutique Hotels, a boutique hotel resource for travel agents and consumers alike, the Brown TLV is a chic member of the rapidly expanding family of Brown hotels in Tel Aviv.
Located off trendy Rothschild Boulevard, the 30-guestroom hotel opens with a vintage-inspired lobby that features a floor-to-ceiling bookcase and a similarly sized reproduction of a Playboy magazine cover.
At check in, guests receive a glass of bubbling cava by the hotel’s hip, friendly attendants. Rooms are small but well-appointed with dark woods and sumptuous bedding, and although there are no suites, there are adjoining rooms available for those looking for a little extra space.
Attention to details makes the hotel especially comfortable, such as the turndown service that includes cool lavender, mint and orange bottled tea and extra towels. The latter will come in handy if guests choose to head up to the rooftop bar and lounge area that features a hot tub and views overlooking Tel Aviv.
Located only a 10-minute walk from the beach, the Brown TLV will soon open a sister property — the Brown Urban Beach House — even closer to the ocean and with more spacious guestrooms. The 40-room hotel, slated for a summer grand opening, will even include an on-site “Urban Beach” lounge, complete with beach chairs.