Feeling Like Royalty At Hotel King David Jerusalem – Travelure ©
For the third consecutive time, TBEX invited me as a speaker. This time, the invite was for speaking in TBEX International, Jerusalem. While the conference was for 4n/4d (including the Speakers’ party), my total stay in Israel was for 9n/10d.
Dan Hotels, Israel’s premier chain of hotels, hosted me in three of their properties. These were – Hotel Dan Panorama (Jerusalem), Hotel Dan Carmel (Haifa) and Hotel King David (Jerusalem). We had a packed itinerary during our stay at Dan Panorama and Dan Carmel. We had a hectic conference followed by an equally hectic Familiarisation Trip.
After the Fam Trip concluded, I returned to Jerusalem for a 2-night stay in Hotel King David. My intent was to visit Beit Guvrin (Bet Guvrin) Caves in Central Israel, just about 55 km from Jerusalem. During these two days, my schedule was light and I got to truly experience the hotel.
The Institution Called King David
Calling King David a hotel is blasphemous. The property is an iconic institution that has hosted the global ‘who’s who’ over its 85-year existence. A heritage monument, it has witnessed hues of history – parades in honour of royalty, communal clashes, random bombings, and more. In fact, in 1946, a section of the hotel had collapsed courtesy one such bombing.
Located just across the road from YMCA, the hotel accords stunning views of Jerusalem. The rooms in front overlook the New City with YMCA in the foreground. And the rooms on the rear offer the coveted view of Old Town Jerusalem.
I had arrived late in the evening from Haifa. The journey had been tiring, yet interesting, as we had made stops at the only 18-hole Golf Course in Israel (Caesarea Golf & Country Club), Caesarea Amphitheatre and Roman Ruins, and Tel Aviv. As soon as our tour bus dropped me in front of King David and I started to wheel in my baggage, a courteous bellhop took charge of my luggage and ushered me into the luxuriously appointed subtly lit lobby of the hotel. The general environs exuding cheeriness took away whatever fatigue had engulfed my body.
Once in the room, I was impressed with the thoughtfulness of the room fittings – especially the number and placements of the electrical sockets. I could simultaneously charge my camera batteries, my phone, my laptop, and still had enough sockets to plug in a few more gizmos!
The French window led me to a balcony that was an impressive overlook to the Jerusalem City Wall, Jaffa Gate and the Tower of David. I poured myself a drink, settled down there, and thought to myself – ‘Life is good!‘
As I got out of the elevator to make my way to the stately dining hall that served breakfast, a vanity strip caught my attention. The strip ran bang in the middle of the aisle leading to the restaurant. What adorned this white strip were the autographs of past and present celebrities, heads of states, Forbes 500 list-ers, Time Magazine Men of the Year, and more. A gentle inquiry revealed that King David had hosted all of them at some time or the other.
Have a look at a small, yet representative sample of the famous guests hosted in the past by King David. Nelson Mandela, Joe Cocker, Richard Gere, Bill Clinton, Candice Bergen, Harry Belafonte, Lord Mountbatten, Yehudi Menuhin, Winston Churchill… And this list can go on and on!
The breakfast buffet was a lavish spread comprising half a dozen fresh juices (and even more available on request). There was an elaborate range of cereals and cheese, fish, eggs to taste, salads et al. Settling down, I enjoyed my most perfect egg benedict here as I took in the ambiance.
There was a palpable lack of loud and boisterous guests. In fact, the crowd was, what I would classify as elegant. The service was attentive, yet unobtrusive. And the ambiance, while it could have been stiff and standoffish, was in fact pleasantly friendly.
During my breakfast the next morning, I experienced that extra edge King David has – its staff. Some of them have been with the hotel for as much as 30 years! For these loyalists, the trademark King David hospitality has started to flow in their veins. One such staffer walked up to me and politely asked if I would care for an orange juice and an egg benedict. I was amazed at his attentiveness. He had taken pains to remember my choices from the previous day. I am sure this kind of attention to a guest’s likes is truly welcome for returning guests!
My Walk About in King David
As the hotel had hosted me, Ms. Naomi Prizker from Guest Relations took me around on a tour of the hotel and its history. This show around was punctuated by some remarkable tales of history-creating moments that have had a powerful impact on modern-day Israel and its strong presence on global stage. One such tale was of an antique table from King David’s Reading Room that was transported to the Sea of Galilee for the signing of the Israel-Jordan Peace Treaty!
As we made our way towards the Jerusalem Suite (the largest suite in King David), she mentioned that later in the day, the Slovakian President would be occupying it as he was on a state visit to Israel. As we entered the suite, it left me overawed. With an area of 155 sqm or 1670 sq ft, this Head-of-State Office-cum-Residential Chamber is larger than most 2BHK apartments in Israel.
One of its entrance lobby passages leads you to the boardroom-cum-dining room, while the other takes you to the lounge-cum-living area. Right here is a guest powder room that may be accessed through this lobby. The living area comfortably seats 8. The suite has its dedicated nook for a treadmill and comes with a fully stocked bar.
The magic dark patch on the bathroom mirror
While showing me the bathroom, Ms. Prizker asked me if I knew what the dark patch on the bathroom mirror was. Noticing I wasn’t sure what it was, she stepped up and flicked a switch. That dark patch suddenly came alive as a TV screen! Well, that feature isn’t only reserved for the Jerusalem Suite but is de rigueur across the various room categories King David offers.
While the terrace of the hotel is out-of-bounds for normal guests, I was taken there to savour the 360-degree view around the property. I can easily say this was perhaps the best view of Old Town Jerusalem (with an exception of the view from the Mount of Olives). My walk through the poolside gardens filled me with an unusual calm as the constant buzz of a city in Brownian Motion suddenly felt distant.
Earlier during my stay, I had tweeted an image of King David and one of my TweePals had messaged me back urging me to stay a few more days at King David till the pool opened as this was the best pool in town!
Enough said, I say.
Given this blue-blooded lineage, it is no wonder that the tariff here is steep. Here, the lowest category room can set you back US$ 500 or more, depending on the season (For further details on tariff and reservations, click HERE). But if you compare like for like hotels anywhere across the globe, it is a competitive tariff. Even more so, when you know that Israel is a relatively expensive destination.
So, if you are looking to feel like royalty anytime soon, and happen to be in Jerusalem, check in to King David. You can thank me later!