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The Bell Tolls at the Inbal, Jerusalem Hotel

Myrna Katz Frommer and Harvey Frommer

Looking out from a wealth of perspectives across Talbieh, one of Jerusalem’s most historic neighborhoods, the five-star Inbal Jerusalem Hotel stands erect, a multi-level affair of rectangular towers arranged in step-like formation and sharp, cliff-like walls – all of Jerusalem stone.

It is a dramatic backdrop for the great open courtyard at the base of the property which Alex Herman, head of sales and marketing for the Inbal, calls “the heart of the hotel,” and taking in its measure from the Jerusalem stone pavement beneath our feet to the umbrella shading the table where we are enjoying afternoon tea on a sunny afternoon, we could see why.

Splendid views accompany one throughout the 32-year-old hotel from the courtyard, from windows of spacious suites, from private patios, and great, open halls with stunning views of the Old City. But Alex’s greatest enthusiasm, it seemed to us, was reserved for the ubiquitous Jerusalem stone. “The Inbal reveals the advantage of the wealth of Jerusalem stone both inside and outside,” he told as we passed an exterior wall glowing pink in the late afternoon. “It is a constant here, always present in different aspects, the prism through which the all else appears. The stones are not all alike. They can be flat, projecting, arranged in different ways. But every one of them reminds you that you are in Jerusalem.”

Clearly the award-winning architect Ya’acov Rechter must have had Jerusalem in mind when he turned his vision to the project that became the Inbal Jerusalem Hotel. Today a luxury five-star property of 238 guestrooms of contemporary classic design and modern accoutrements on the order of a gym, a large swimming pool, massage treatment rooms, convention space, etc. it continues to convey a sense of what it was like years ago with intriguing views of the Old City and the varied versions of Jerusalem stone.  Comparisons have been made between features of the hotel and origami – the Japanese art of paper-folding where changing dimensions of moods and designs are part of scenery.

It can be felt in the dining rooms of the Inbal – the sophisticated, contemporary Sofia with its Mediterranean flavorings, delicious hand-made pastas, salads, sand elections of freshly caught fish; the BBQ where in the charming al fresco ambience of the courtyard, prime cuts are grilled; the Breakfast Buffet beginning with seemingly unlimited options of freshly baked goods, local cheeses, yogurts, salads, seasonal fruits, and pancakes, omelets, and eggs prepared before your eyes by a chef in the his traditional whites, and an equally tempting arrangement of nova, gravlax, schmaltz herring, pickled herring in cream sauce or brine and sturgeon – platter after platter of those foods those of us who still relish the tastes from our Eastern European backgrounds cannot resist.

Most memorable, however, was the traditional Friday night dinner held at the Inbal's Carmel Restaurant where the candle-lit ambience evoked for us the traditional Eruv Shabbat dinners of our childhood. The lighting of candles, the prayers, the specialty entrees of braised beef, goulash, roast chicken, Moroccan fish, matzoh ball soup and braided challah all melded raising the Inbal experience to a level that made this secular pair of American Jews believe one can go home again. But just being at the Inbal Jerusalem felt like home even though no one seemed to know where the term “Inbal” came from.

Rony Timsit, General Manager

Alex Herman, Director of Sales and Marketing

Then before we left, a young man on the staff told us the clapboard (the device that hangs suspended from the top of the interior of a bell and strikes its side) was a gift to the hotel from a prominent Jewish family from Philadelphia some time ago. To this day, no one knew why they changed its name from “clapboard” to “Inbal.”

But for this pair of travel writers who have been guests at top properties across the globe, it was clear why the Inbal Jerusalem Hotel, voted best hotel in Israel and fourth best hotel in the entire Middle East by readers of the influential “Conde Nast Traveler,” continues to hold a special and splendid place in the pantheon of Jerusalem hotels.

Few hotels have compared to the over-the-top experiences we received at the Inbal. A great deal of the credit for that goes to the team running the show at the hotel - - General Manager Rony Timsit, Head of Sales and Marketing, Alex Herman and Award Winning Executive Chef Nir Elkayam. 

(All photos courtesy of  Inbal)

Chef Nir Elkayam

Inbal Hotel Five Stars
Liberty Bell Park
3 Jabotinsky Street
Jerusalem 92145

US Toll free 1-877-443-7443
Phone:  (972) (2) 675 6666 (24/7)
Fax: (972) (2) 675 6777


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About the Authors:  Myrna Katz Frommer and Harvey Frommer are a wife and husband team who successfully bridge the worlds of popular culture and traditional scholarship. Co-authors of the critically acclaimed interactive oral histories It Happened in the Catskills, It Happened in Brooklyn, Growing Up Jewish in America, It Happened on Broadway, It Happened in Manhattan, It Happened in Miami. They teach what they practice as professors at Dartmouth College.

They are also travel writers who specialize in luxury properties and fine dining as well as cultural history and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. More about these authors.

You can contact the Frommers at: 

Email: myrna.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU
Email: harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU

This Article is Copyright © 1995 - 2012 by Harvey and Myrna Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.

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