I have seen this hotel in the process of being built for several years and in April of 2014, it was opened and ready to receive guests. Not only was it special to have a Waldorf property in Israel but it was fantastic because it brought a points option to a city that was pretty much void of hotels that you could redeem with points. Granted, it requires quite a few points, but it is a great place to stay and a good value for the points.
Having stayed at more hotels than I can remember in Jerusalem, I was eager to try out the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem and provide a review of it.
Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem – Luxury With Points
The Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem is located on Gershon Agron street which is the same street that the US Consulate is on. In fact, it is just a few hundred feet down from the Consulate. The property is split by the road entrance with the hotel on one side and the Waldorf Astoria Residences on the other side.
The hotel is in a very great location to access many of the tourist spots in the city. The Jaffa Gate to the Old City is only about 1/2 mile away and that gives easy access to the Old City’s shopping areas and the Western Wall and the Temple Mount area.
There are many ways to get to the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem. If you are coming from Tel Aviv, it is easily accessible by car. Parking costs $15 to park yourself at the hotel. On the weekends (Jewish weekend – Friday afternoon and Saturday), you can park along the street and there are many places all along the street the hotel is on.
You can also take a bus from the Central Bus station in Jerusalem or a Sherut, a shared taxi from the airport.
When you enter the beautiful, immaculate hotel, the check-in desk is on the right with a restaurant straight ahead with the concierge’s desk to the left of the restaurant. When you check-in, there is not an elite specific point to check-in at the desk (though there is a small sign that reads Hilton HHonors on the left side of the counter).
That did not matter, however, as I was met by some of the desk agents before I reached the desk as they asked if I was checking in. I asked them if they had an elite check-in point and they asked what my status was. I told them I was a Diamond member and they took my passport and walked into the back to check me in. I signed the form for check-in and they informed me that that had upgraded me to a Junior Suite.
The elevator access is given by using your keycard to let you select your floor. Simply scan your card and then select your floor from the digital pad. The pad will tell you which elevator to expect.
Since this is Jerusalem, you will need to pay attention to the little red light near the top of the elevator door that shows whether it is a Shabbat elevator (Shabbat is the Sabbath). During the Sabbath, the elevators that are marked as a Shabbat elevator will stop at each floor going up and down.
My personal concierge led me to my suite and gave me information about the hotel. The hallways were beautiful and elegant. Part of that is new hotel, part is Waldorf. It is very different from walking down the hallways of lower tiered hotels and seeing the wear on the carpets and molding!
My suite was very spacious with high ceilings and bright lights (controlled by keypads throughout the room). Upon entering, it was in the lobby of the suite with the coffee/espresso machine on the left. On the right is the short hallway to the bathroom (a very large bathroom!) with the closet along that way.
The King Junior Suite that they upgraded me to measures 538 square feet, over 100 sq. ft. more than the basic room that I booked and that is bookable with points.
The bedroom is very spacious with a lot of empty space. That is not a bad thing as it feels nice to be able to move around a hotel room in a city like this where space is at a premium.
Everything in the room spoke to the luxury of the hotel. The furniture was thick and comfortable, even down to the desk chair.
The sleeper/sofa was not a piece of furniture that was just there for the purpose of appearance or convenience but it was actually comfortable. Both that and the chair in the sitting area were very comfortable and pulled me towards it more than other places in the room as I was relaxing after the Jerusalem Marathon.
The television was a 46″ display that was high quality and easy to watch. My only problem with it was the positioning. Obviously, with multiple sitting/resting areas, you cannot please everyone but if you normally watch hotel TVs when laying in bed, it is not as easy to do that as it is in some other hotels. Not complaining, I just felt that my general habit is to watch from bed propped up on pillows and this was targeted more for those in the sitting area.
The bed was very comfortable with advertised 400 thread sheets and a pillow menu to make sure you can get the kind of relaxing sleep you need. It has a light panel on the side that lets you control the lights in the suite while you are in bed and has reading lights on both sides of the bed should you like to read before falling asleep.
If you are trying to get some work done while there, you will find everything you need right at the desk. From the comfortable chair to the control unit in the middle, you can plug in your devices and get stuff done in one central place. It even comes with an iPad, though with a proprietary Hilton app on it for use with hotel information.
There was one negative with my experience and it had to do with getting work done. It was hampered somewhat by the internet speeds. As a Hilton HHonors member, I received complimentary internet so I understand it is not going to be as fast as the premium service. But, the advertised speed for premium was still only a little better and still far below the internet speeds I received with complimentary internet at cheaper, lesser properties in Jerusalem. Hopefully, they can improve on this.
The bathroom is quite large, much larger than any other bathroom I have had in Jerusalem at various hotels. On the right, you have dual sinks with a beautiful granite countertop. Straight ahead, you have the shower with a sitting area. To the left of that space, you have the toilet (complete with the ubiquitous bathroom telephone).
If you notice in the photo above, there is a darkened part of the mirror. That is actually a television inside the mirror and is controlled by the controls on the wall under the light. The audio is kind of tinny but it is still cool and convenient for when you are in the tub.
Across from the sinks is my favorite part of the bathroom – a large soaking tub. It was perfect for a post-marathon soak! Definitely a high point for me in this hotel!
The different soaps and beauty products in the bathroom are Dead Sea products which many people really like. They even have a nice bag for some of the products.
The cash cost for staying here is high – it was $600 for the night I stayed there (though there are some nights for mid-$400s). This puts it in the same category as the famed King David hotel (which is what the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem is aiming at). The King Junior Suite that I stayed in was $770 for the night so it is a very decent upgrade. I absolutely loved the suite and the staff (David, the Front End Manager, was particularly friendly and helpful).
If you do stay there on points, it is not cheap either. It will cost you 80,000 points for a night stay. That is certainly pricey but Hilton points are pretty easy to come by, thanks to multiple credit cards and high bonuses. You can also use a weekend stay certificate that you get with the Hilton Reserve card. This is one property to stay at to really take advantage of those certificates.
The Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem is a fantastic, luxurious hotel. That you can stay here on points is really great. Jerusalem is a beautiful city full of history and culture. This hotel makes a great starting spot.
Little local tip – if you want to try my favorite hamburger in the world, check out Iwo Meatburger on Hillel Street. It is unbelievable and you can take a nice walk through Independence Park as you go there. It is one of the very few places open on the Sabbath as well. If you want to eat falafel (which you need to do if you are visiting Israel), check out spot on the on King George street. It is across from Ben Yehuda and they are really good!
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