The Efendi Hotel in Acre, Israel, was recently named one of the 50 best new hotels in the world for 2012 by Travel & Leisure magazine.
The hotel is comprised of two Ottoman-era mansions that were once palaces that housed the rulers and wealthy Ottomans in the 19th century. They were carefully restored and renovated by local restaurateur Uri Jeremias in conjunction with Israel’s Antiquities Authority.
Nestled in the narrow ancient pathways of Acre, the hotel overlooks the historic city walls and the Mediterranean Sea. The two buildings, complete with Byzantine walls and Crusader-period cellars, are now comprised of 12 white-on-white rooms, each with original ceilings, some with colorful frescoes. The 12 rooms are spread out on three levels , each of which has four guestrooms and a central lobby with sitting areas.
Several features of the mansions have also been restored, such as the 400-year-old Turkish Bath or “Hamam” and the wine cellar dating back to Crusader times. Hundreds of bottles of Israeli wines are stored in the original arches of this 900-year-old cellar, which contains remnants from the days of the Byzantine Empire. According to the hotel’s web site, artisans were specially flown in from Italy in order to undertake the work, as well as the restoration of the ceilings.
Also preserved was a fresco of the city of Istanbul, which was found at the site. The fresco had been created in 1878 in honor of the new Orient Express train station.
Each of the guest rooms features amenities such as king size beds with Egyptian cotton linens, goose down pillows and blankets, marble-lined bathrooms equipped with large showers, freestanding bathtubs, and towel warmers, and wireless Internet access. Guests also can enjoy a mini-bar, espresso machine, and an LCD TV with a DVD player.
Most of the guestrooms windows offer sea views, while others look out over Acre and the mountains of the Western Galilee. The rooftop features a 360-degree panorama of the surrounding area including the Mediterranean and the hills of the Galilee.
Akko, as it is locally known, is one of the oldest continuously inhabited sites in the country. Canaanites, Greeks, Israelites, Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines and Arab rulers all inhabited the city, but it was the Crusaders, Mamluks and Ottomans whose architecture carries on until today .
Acre’s Old City has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Other sites to see in Acre include the Hamam al-Basha bath house, Citadel of Acre, Prison of Acre, the old port, Knight’s Halls, and several Bahai holy places, including the Bahai Gardens.
The Efendi Hotel, Louis IX Street, Old Acre 24124,
Tel: (07) 472-99799,