The Mt. Zion Hotel is not one of those hotels that hits you in the eye with its monumental architecture. It doesn’t look like much from the outside. In fact, you hardly see it at all, because it is a low-slung building, hugging the hilly terrain. The entrance, on Hebron Road, looks like a kind of glorified cave that you enter by going down a flight of steps.
Once inside, you are greeted by a stunning lobby – elegant yet very “old world Jerusalem” - a blend of colorful cushions, brass and wood coffee tables, ceramic vases and beaten copper wall decorations. All this pales beside the eye-popping vistas from the arched picture window at the far end of the lobby. It’s the kind of view you simply cannot take your eyes off: the walls of the Old City, Mt. Zion, the Judean Desert, the mountains of Moab off in the distance.
Speaking of eyes, the building was a British ophthalmic hospital in the 19th century, when eye diseases seem to have been a major problem in this part of the world. People traveled from as far as Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Persia to be treated by doctors at the Hospital of the Order of St. John. Only 100 patients were seen a day, and the system was “first come, first served.” The doors were opened after midnight and shut when the quota was filled. Pilgrims visiting Jerusalem in those days describe the crowds camped outside. The building across the street, the Jerusalem House of Quality, which contains galleries and art studios today, was an outpatient clinic.
During World War I, the hospital closed down and the Turkish army turned it into an ammo dump. One wing was blown up when the Turks left in 1917. Under the British Mandate, the hospital reopened and two new wings were added. For 19 years, from 1948 to 1967, the place stood empty. In 1986, someone finally came up with the idea of turning it into a hotel.
Unique Quality: I haven’t stayed here myself, but this is a friend’s testimonial: “The Mt. Zion was very beautiful. The food was very good, too. Our only complaint was that there were no towels the first night and we didn't think to ask for any until the next day. The bathroom was large and spacious. The room was very big and had a great view. It was walking distance to lots of things. Many people from our group walked to the Kotel. For good walkers, it was about a 30-minute walk, mostly straight up! For me that seemed too daunting. We were looking right at the walls of the Old City and there was a path you could take to enter, also a bit of a climb. I would stay there again and would not hesitate to recommend it to others.”
There is a beautiful outdoor pool facing the walls of the Old City, and a fitness room for those who can still move after hiking around Jerusalem...
The hotel is close to Zion gate, about 15-20 min, and the hotel is reasonable priced among the hotels in the same area. our price included breakfast. The breakfast was good. The room is clean and spacy. we also walked 20-25 min to germany colony area to have dinner.
A converted 19th century eye hospital, Mount Zion Hotel is located on the westward slopes of the Kidron Valley overlooking the Old City and the Arab village of Siwan, resulting in one of the most gloriously located hotels in Jerusalem.
Made up of a series of buildings, old and new, the hotel's entrance is located at street level on the Hebron Road, with the hotel rooms 'dropping down' the hillside on the floors below.
The majority of the rooms are to be found in the modern buildings and are large, functional and comfortable. There are a few luxury rooms and suites to be found in the older buildings and these are full of character and opulence.
In addition to the location and stunning views, the hotel offers a Turkish Hammam with spa facilities, beautiful grounds and a wonderful open-air pool with views to the walls of the old city.
It's a hotel popular with tour groups and is set-up to serve, with trips organised directly by the hotel. If you're there for business, it does lack finesse and services - internet connection is additional to room rates, service is slow, business centre not great.
But for a place to kick back and relax, take in the pool and easy access to the Old City, Mount Zion is a great place to stay.
Unique Quality: Location is everything and comfort levels are high. Add the pool and it's one of the best places to stay, certainly in the price range.
And the breakfasts are outstanding, which can be eaten both inside or outside, overlooking the Old City. Unusually, the hotel also contains a small museum - the Jerusalem Cable Car Museum (see separate tip).
Stayed again in 2012 - and if anything, things run a little smoother (not that there were major problems before).
Directions: Opposite St Andrews Scottish Church and minutes from the Cinematheque.
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Address: 17 Hebron Rd, Jerusalem, 93546, Israel