Home Accomodation No tourists in sight, but still going strong

No tourists in sight, but still going strong

No tourists in sight, but still going strong
Inbal Hotel after the renovation. Photo: PR

The 5-star deluxe Inbal Hotel has always been a favorite among foreign tourists, especially Americans. An extensive renovation project was completed at the end of 2018, a year before corona hit, with an impressive facelift to the public spaces and the addition of suites and premium rooms.

One pandemic and three lockdowns later, Mr. Rony Timsit, General Manager, says, “We only see a trickle of foreign guests, mostly Americans with immediate families in Israel. To make up for the loss of incoming tourists, we have directed our efforts at the Israeli public. We have also received a lot of last-minute requests to host large conferences, seminars, and corporate meetings.”

Lobby at the Inbal
Lobby at the Inbal. Photo: Inga Michaeli

Mr. Timsit is quite pleased with the 70% occupancy in July and expects to see full occupancy in August. As part of its PR and marketing efforts, the hotel launched a new Telegram group with special deals for group members only, under the intriguing heading The Secret Service at Your Disposal.

According to Timsit, “The idea of the Telegram group is to offer secret deals. We do not sell via Telegram; it is more of a marketing platform that offers our guests extra freebies. Maybe we will reconsider when we reach 10,000 members. Right now, we have about 400 members in the group, and it is spreading word-to-mouth, which is very surprising.”

We visited two weeks ago to sample one of the well-designed Grand Premium rooms, enjoy the culinary delights of the O2, the property’s chef restaurant, and check out how well the Inbal is faring, now that the restart of inbound tourism is delayed again, and still in question.

Location, location, location

The hotel commands a prime location, no doubt a key element of its perennial success among foreign tourists. Many of the rooms overlook the city of Jerusalem, and an added bonus is the proximity to the Old City, the Cinematheque, the German Colony, and Mamilla Mall. For example, we enjoyed a visit with wine tastings at the visitor center of the only winery in the capital, Jerusalem Wineries, in the Montefiore windmill, just a few hundred yards from the hotel.

Grand Premium room at Inbal
Grand Premium room at Inbal. Photo: Asaf Pinchuk

Rooms and suites

Spread over two new floors added to the hotel’s east wing, 52 impressive suites and premium rooms joined the existing 283 rooms. Architect Michael Schwartz and interior designer Michael Azulai made sure to use textures and colors typical of Jerusalem, like olive leaves or the Dome of the Rock, beautifully reflected in the green and gold shades that dominate the rooms. Our spacious Grand Premium room included a balcony with a partial view of the Old City, a very comfortable double bed and another double sofa bed, a chaise longue and a desk, a sizeable shower and bath with AHAVA products and all the usual trimmings, including a minibar and coffee machine. Price tag? Around 700 USD per night.

Inner courtyard
The inner courtyard, great for breakfast. Photo: Asaf Pinchuk

Hotel facilities

There are loads of public spaces, and even if the cake vitrine and shops seem like a relic from the 80s, the seating areas are charming, the executive lounge on the top floor is very comfortable, and the beautiful courtyard is quite inviting, especially in times of corona, when having breakfast in the open air feels so much safer. And let’s not forget the large outdoor pool, spa, and gym.

Breakfast buffet
Breakfast buffet. Photo: Inga Michaeli

Culinary scene

The breakfast buffet includes a rich variety of salads, cheeses, pastries, spreads, and eggs made to order. A buffet dinner is also served in the evening, but if you’re looking for something special, the Inbal’s O2 restaurant is certainly an experience to be had. Under the direction of Chef Nimrod Norman, the romantic restaurant offers up-to-date cuisine inspired by the city’s famous markets and the local culinary history of Jerusalem. We enjoyed all the starters in the short but excellent menu, from the Feingold sourdough bread to the beef carpaccio with horseradish and lamb neck shawarma, and my ribeye minute steak for the main was exquisite. Add some great wines and superb service, and you’re in for a treat.

The O2 restaurant
The O2 restaurant. Photo: Asaf Pinchuk

The author was a guest of Inbal Hotel and the O2 restaurant.

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Editor in chief of Passport.News. I'm a translator by profession, specializing in tourism. A long trip to Vermont in 2010 led me to launch a blog and gain a following; my musings about travel and work quickly landed me an item in Israel’s top travel magazine, and the rest is history. Today I write for some of the leading magazines and newspapers in Israel, both print and online. I'm also a content editor for the Mapo travelers app and IG community, and I'm currently writing the first ever travel guide to the UAE in Hebrew.


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