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“Living on the Edge of the "Matzav".”

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The American Colony Hotel
Ranked #10 of 102 Hotels in Jerusalem
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 11 June 2012

There is not enough space to write about the years of living dangerously on the edge of Jerusalem at the American Colony as the backdrop to a city that has seen everything and everyone: East Jerusalem is definitely not West Jerusalem. And thank goodness! However, if you want to splurge just once on your trip--take a suitcase stuffed with Jordanian dinars, Israeli shekels or US dollars and book a room, or better yet, a large suite with oriental carpets, a deep tubbed tiled bathroom and arched windows that open out to the courtyard below at the American Colony and don't look back. Plunge over the invisible wall and stay on "The Other Side". Just once. Do it. Worry not about rooms, size, the small things; instead soak in the atmosphere of an old Pasha's villa that is still the center of all things political, social and secret. If money is an issue, just drop by after a marathon of sightseeing and order tea or coffee in the delightful courtyard complete with one particular palm tree given by the Peter Ustinov family, along with a lush garden of flowers trickling water fountains and stone floor and open sky encased by ancient stones from Roman ruins. Once you sit down and begin to admire the beautiful Armenian tiles from Palestinian Pottery—the originals, mind you, you’ll never break away.

If you are lucky enough to stay the night, you’ll wake up to a delicious and yes, enormous breakfast buffet with endless offerings (houmous, lebane, tens of cheeses, fruit salads, oriental salads of chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, zatar, ripe fruits that just dropped from the trees, baked breads of all kinds, and the best coffee this side of Starbucks. (btw: REAL French roast coffee that comes in silver pots you can pour into your own ceramic coffee cup over and over)—no Styrofoam in this place. Haram! Not to mention a courteous staff of E. Jerusalemites who have worked at this gem of a hotel for as long as I can remember–and that is a long time---since 1969. I was just a young girl at the time I was first introduced to this secret world of journalists, UN diplomats, rock stars, spies, international foreign peace talk negotiators and other assorted suspects in the never ending drama one knows as “the Matzav” (“The Situation”) meaning the endless back and forth tugs of war between East and West Jerusalem, and Israel and the world in general. A French photographer, Marc Ribaud, on assignment for Life Magazine's coverage of Israel's 25th anniversary, plucked me out of a dreamy respite in the Independence Garden where I was waiting for my “toos toos motorbike” to be fixed, and after clicking me lounging on a bench a dozen times, I mustered up the energy to ask who he was and what he was doing as he was obviously not a tourist type. He held the Leica cameras, and I held the key to the city. He soon asked if I would like to show him around Israel. The exchange was more than mutual. As I was just a struggling student living in West Jerusalem, my world was defined by the Hebrew University in Givat Ram, and my housing in the infamous Shikunay HaAleph dorms built as a quick prefab nightmare that ringed the edge of the university campus in layer cakes of buildings that were meant to be temporary but turned into a permanent site-still standing to this day, mind you. But lucky me: Marc opened my eyes to another world. – to The Other Side, actually. I got a peek into the Jerusalem from the Arab and Christian point of views, and as payment for my insider knowledge, he first treated me to an upper class dinner at the American Colony and my 18 year-old eyes took in the spectacle with absolute amazement.

But back to the Colony review. I never really left the place. Whenever I travel and land in Jerusalem, I drop back into the scene at the Colony as if it was home. My home. Along with the late, social and political doyenne of Jerusalem; owner, Mrs. Vester, with whom I was lucky enough to enjoy a glass of lemonade along with an insider’s look at the historical photography archives of Jerusalem from the 1800’s to the War of Independence in 1948, and then the renowned photos from the Six Day War in 1967. Yes, indeed I was fortunate to be there as often as possible.

Expensive, yes, but worth every penny if you want to be part of the ever unfolding action. I have watched the Middle East drama unfold over the years from a seat in the Colony courtyard and nothing has changed except that the Colony remains intact, as it always looked, and you feel as if you are living within the “no fly zone” of Jerusalem, watching and absorbing the history in the present, yet cocooned within a solid stone buffer zone between East and West. A safe haven for all. And this is just the beginning of the story.

If you venture out of the gate and turn left, walk yourself down the narrow stone streets and discover another world, and don't forget to visit the Balians at Palestinian Pottery right up the road, and say "hi" to Neshan for me.

At the Colony, read all about its history and even buy the books. Don't come home without learning the story behind the story. And say hello, or Ma-salam to Diana for me. She has always made each voyage and stay special.

Fearful of the unkown? Ignore the news and take a walk on the wild side. The American Colony is definitely the place to be.

Room Tip: Ask Diana if she has a slightly more exotic room available if you don't like your room.
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  • Stayed: March 2012, travelled as a couple
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4  Thank dvrdesign
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 7 June 2012

I had heard many reports about this hotel and had never stayedhere on my many trips to Jerusalem.
I have stayed in all the 5 star hotels in the city.
A i can say its a no contest.
We stayed in a CLassic Pasha room which was small and cramp with very limited hanging space. NO fun staying in a expensive room for 4night's living from a suitcase,
The wifi in our room did not work for our duration and we did not have hot water on one day.
The breakfast which was lauded by many folks is no match for other high end hotels in the city.
Obviously those who class this as the nicer of the hotels in the city aren't familiar with any of the others.

Room Tip: Check your rooms well before youbook as words are better than looks
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  • Stayed: June 2012, travelled solo
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4  Thank moshe h
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
General M, General Manager at The American Colony Hotel, responded to this reviewResponded 15 June 2012

Dear Reviewer

Thank you for taking the time to post your review of the American Colony Hotel on Tripadvisor. I am most grateful for your feedback, which is such a valuable source of information for me, regardless of whether it is good or bad, and helps me monitor the service we provide.

I am most concerned to read of the issues you experienced regarding your room. We pride ourselves on the standard of product and service we provide at The American Colony Hotel, which makes it all the more disappointing to read that we have let ourselves down on this occasion. We would be most interested to know which room you stayed in as we have no record of a Guest from the Dan area having wifi and hot water problems, staying with us in June 2012.
We are the only 5 star hotel in Jerusalem that provides complimentary high speed corded and wifi internet througout the hotel and if we had known of the problem we would have fixed it immediately.

Please accept my sincere apologies that on this occasion we did not meet the high standards to which we aspire and I look forward to welcoming you back in person to the American Colony in the near future, and to restore your faith in the hotel and us.

Yours sincerely,

Thomas Brugnatelli
General Manager

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 June 2012

The American Colony Hotel is in an old, historic building. The architecture is amazing and the rooms and public areas have real character, decorated with old prints and maps. My room had a map of General Allenby's campaign to take Jerusalem during World War I. But this is not some obsolete relic, but a world class business hotel. The list of former guests reads like a who's who of the world. It is only a 10 minute walk to the Old City.

The rooms vary in size, but mine was regular size for a business hotel, with a small balcony with two chairs. The bed was very comfortable. The desk and chair made work pleasant, and the room has a nice leather easy chair and ottoman. The flatscreen TV had a good selection of channels. The rain shower head was a nice touch. The bathroom is small and you have to move out of the way of the door to get in and out.

The restaurant is nice, but expensive for the quality. The breakfast buffet is standard business hotel food, some of it cold. But the bar in the basement, more like a cavern, and the restaurant in the courtyard, make up for the prices and food quality with atmosphere. The pool is wonderful, a bit small, but long enough to swim laps. Service throughout the hotel is very good. It is small enough to be personal and they remember you.

Do not miss the shops across the street, part of the hotel. The bookstore has the best selection of books on Middle East politics I've ever seen, the craft shop has genuine antiques as well as contemporary crafts at reasonable prices, and the jewelry shop has very nice jewelry with prices to match.

All in all, if you want a memorable experience in Jerusalem, and you prefer a small, more intimate hotel, you should seriously consider this hotel.

  • Stayed: May 2012, travelled on business
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1  Thank Dutch Brother
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 June 2012

Within Israel the hotel really stands out as an Arab hospitality standard in Israel. Complete with loud call to prayer at the mosque next door and anti israel books on the shelves. Amazing grounds with great service and food. The pool is very intimate and nice. Standard Rooms slightly sparser than expected.
Very well run, comfortable stay.

  • Stayed: May 2012, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank BigB0nes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 June 2012

The combination of old oriental architacture, excellent Mediterranean food and friendly, kind service makes the American colony what it is The Middle East at its best.

  • Stayed: May 2012, travelled as a couple
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Review collected in partnership with Easytobook.com
3  Thank Ephraim S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 June 2012

I only had one night in Jerusalem on a recent visit so treated myself to a stay at the American Colony hotel. Amazing. An historic building in a convenient location only minutes from the old city. Big rooms, a lovely shower, comfy bed, lovely linen. I didn't eat dinner but breakfast was everything you would expect plus the courtyard is perfect. I had a nice night cap in the famous cellar bar and best of all an incredibly enjoyable hour browsing the small but perfectly formed on site bookshop and chatting to its charming and knowledgable owner. My only gripe - it is a pricey nights stay but overall well worth it.

  • Stayed: May 2012
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2  Thank RBagnold
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 May 2012

Service! It makes all the difference. From the front desk to the restaurant staff, the hotel is full of employees who great you with smiles and attentive service. We ate as often as possible in the restaurants as the food and service was so enjoyable. We found the restaurant prices to be in line with restaurants in the city. Both nights we ate dinner, there was soft live guitar on the patio. Breakfast on the terrace was a treat with fresh flat breads being made to order. The hotel can arrange for transport for your arrival and departure, as well as tour guides.

  • Stayed: May 2012, travelled as a couple
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Thank Di D
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about The American Colony Hotel

Address: 1 Louis Vincent Street, Jerusalem 9720071, Israel
Region: Israel > Jerusalem District > Jerusalem > American Colony
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#2 Business Hotel in Jerusalem
#5 Family Hotel in Jerusalem
#5 Romantic Hotel in Jerusalem
#8 Luxury Hotel in Jerusalem
Price Range: £180 - £511 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — The American Colony Hotel 5*
Number of rooms: 92
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Elegant, historical Boutique Hotel with complimentary hi speed WiFi in all guest rooms and public areas, complimentary use of business centre and 20 minutes free local & international calls. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
American Colony Jerusalem
American Colony Hotel Jerusalem

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