In its former incarnation as the Palace Hotel the magnificent Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem building was deservedly lauded as one of the City’s most beautiful and inspired architectural works, and the original façade has been painstakingly preserved, complete with its magnificent soaring arches and ornate arabesque embellishments.
Situated a short walk from the Old City, at the corner of King David and Agron Street (previously Mamilla Road) the Palace Hotel (the Waldorf Astoria’s former incarnation) was originally commissioned by the Supreme Muslim Council in 1928-29, based on designs by the acclaimed Turkish architect Nahas Bey.
The hotel opened in 1931, and was soon heralded as one of Jerusalem’s most exquisitely beautiful buildings, showcasing an eclectic mixture of Greco-Roman, Renaissance, Gothic, Romanesque, neo-Moorish and Mamluk elements, and offering a unique degree of luxury with private bathrooms (unheard of in the country at the time) three elevators and central heating.
The building’s incredible facade was adorned with engraved verses
from the Koran, and the entrance lobby, topped by an octagonal skylight,
spanned the entire height of the building. Decorative columns with
Doric, Ionic and Corinthian capitals graced the grand entrance, and the
lighting fixtures throughout the building were done in tasteful art deco
Alas, the considerable financial load of the hotel’s upkeep proved beyond the means of the Supreme Muslim Council, and it was leased to hotelier George Barsky, who in turn struggled to compete with the nearby King David Hotel. Afterwards, the building was used largely as the military offices of the mandatory government until, in 1937, the Royal Peel Commission, which investigated the ongoing Arab riots and recommended the partition of Palestine, convened in the hotel. Since the establishment of the State in 1948, the building has housed the Ministry of Industry and Trade.
The incredible restoration of the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem has been overseen by the internationally acclaimed Feigin Architects, Israel’s leading architects, specialising in the leisure and recreation industry, with the interior design team led by the estimable Mr. Sinan Kafadar of Metex Design Group.
Under the esteemed tutelage of Architect and Town Planner David Kroyanker - a specialist in the preservation and revitalization of historic neighborhoods and buildings - Feigin Architects have endeavored to return this extraordinary building to its former glory by retaining the original grand staircase and the ornate arabesque façade, with its decorative arches, intricate stone carvings and scenic-view balconies.
The hotel interior has been embellished to an unparalleled degree of opulent grandeur, with the atrium boasting a unique glass-panelled skylight that opens mechanically to a 90-degree angle, allowing guests to eat under the clear Jerusalem skies during the festival of Succot.