• MINIVIEW: HBA London completes a new jewel in Jerusalem

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    We took a closer look at the timeless details that make up the new hotel on the block, The Orient Jerusalem by Isrotel Exclusive Collection…

    Following Hotel Designs exclusive discussion with the design firm’s senior designer Constantina TsoutsikouHBA London has completed the interiors of The Orient Jerusalem by Isrotel Exclusive Collection.

    Beginning with the cherished Song of Jerusalem ‘A timeless love song to the city’, the hotel’s interiors were inspired by the extraordinary layers of history, culture and artistry as well as the sheer beauty of the indigenous stone which bathes the city in a golden hue.

    The Orient sits at the entrance to Jerusalem’s historically rich and increasingly cosmopolitan German Colony district. It combines two exquisite 19th century Templar houses, which have been restored and reinvented as a collection of more than 200 luxury guestrooms, with a modern nine-storey building crowned by an elegant rooftop pool and bar.

    “We were particularly blessed with this project because we not only had the city to draw on, but the influences of the German Colony’s Swabian architecture,” said Inge Moore, the former Principal of HBA London. “Jerusalem is an amazing city for a designer to work in. Everything is embraced by the golden tint of the stone, interspersed with the green of foliage and plants and with bright punches of colour in the fruits, markets, textiles and ancient decoration. Over the centuries, Jerusalem has been a melting pot of peoples, each bringing their stories and crafts and leaving a great legacy of artisanal resourcefulness.

    Striking sculpture in the lobby

    Artwork plays a key part throughout the hotel. Art curator Sharon Toval has emphasised Isrotel’s belief in the essential role that art has in creating spaces full of powerful associations and beauty. Like the interior design, the inspiration for the artwork was Jerusalem’s history and the land, reimagined into contemporary expression. The result is a collection of sculptures, watercolours, prints and etchings by acclaimed and emerging Israeli artists as well as by the students of Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design who undertook a year-long project to each create a sculpture relating to the city and the hotel.

    The Lobby 

    The journey begins within a grand atrium of glass and Jerusalem stone. The high-glazed ceiling welcomes in an abundance of natural light, that is complimented by thoughtfully positioned lighting from Northern Lights. The public area is dressed with gently gathered drapery that lends elegance to the space while also shields guests from the midday sun while softening the acoustics. Inspiration for the illuminated mosaic tiles was taken from encaustic tiles found in the Templar buildings.  The reception desk is of bronze and a chandelier with hand-blown local glass cascades through the central stairwell, suspended above a reflection pool two floors below, to captivate guests on arrival.

    Dark tones in the lobby

    The grand lounge bar is designed to be the beating heart of the hotel and has, as such, become a favourite hotspot for hotel’s residents and locals alike. Located just off the entrance lobby, it is an atmospheric double-height space that is a symphony of reflective and textural surfaces. The bar itself is clad in a richly grained green marble, the pattern of which has been translated into the wall covering. A composition of framed verre églomisé mirrors, together with antiqued mirror to the back of the bar, play with movement and reflections within the space.

    Plush banquet seating, elegant leather covered armchairs and local lace chandeliers soften the geometric pattering and beaten metal features, while screens on each side of the bar recall the many layered views to be found in the streets of Jerusalem. Through soaring arched windows, guests can access cosy balconies overlooking the delightful outdoor courtyard below.

    Courtyard dominated by striking treeThe Smadar Dining Room and Courtyard Terrace

    Jerusalem stone walls carry through from the exterior facade to meet silvered mirror clad walls and glass screens etched with the pattern of the old encaustic tiles, which together poses a play of reflection, transparency and opacity that is the experience of Jerusalem. Olive wood adds to the energy of the space and forms a striking assembly of suspended panels with acoustic insulation which manage the volume of sound in this imposing room.

    The dining room flows out into the courtyard – an al fresco area designed to accommodate guests throughout day and evening. From here, guests can take in the architecture of both the new and old hotel buildings.

    Guestrooms – The Templar Buildings

    The guestrooms in the Templar buildings are each unique in their architectural form and detailing, representing, in effect, 39 individual projects for the designers. Within the idiosyncratic spaces, the guestrooms combine luxury with elements of local handicraft to bring the authenticity of these heritage buildings to life. The blue and ivory palette is both beautiful and meaningful. These are the colours of the national flag and the “tekhelet” blue recalls the biblical blue of Judaism which, when combined with ivory tones, captures the spirit of Jerusalem. Encaustic floor tiles that flow from the bedroom into the bathrooms are similar to those found in the original buildings during restoration. Crafted wrought iron bed frames are focal points in the bedrooms with a blue leather chaise longue at the foot of each bed adding a touch of opulence.

    Locally crafted, antique-style mother-of-pearl inlaid cabinetry enhances the residential feel whilst the neutral palette, tiling and use of stone emphasise the simple beauty of the old architecture. Many of the bathrooms feature a large window through which light streams in, illuminating the fittings that include aged metal basins and mixer taps, as well as a traditional free-standing copper-clad tub by Cifal.

    Guestrooms – The New Building

    The 205 guestrooms and suites in the new building reference local heritage and craftsmanship but within the context of a contemporary background. Studded headboards hint at the old doors of the city, lamps are artisanal, and table tops are of olive wood. The naturally warm tones of the textural woven fabrics of the drapery and upholstery are instrumental in creating a sense of tranquil luxury. Sliding panels between bedroom and bathroom open up to allow guests to appreciate the balance of natural stone, olive wood, wrought iron and plush woven fabrics across the entire space.

    The 24 suites bring even further materiality and detailing as well as the addition of a spacious sitting room with deep, comfortable sofas and, in some cases, a dining area or a terrace allowing outdoor lounging and dining. The 118 sq metre Presidential Suite enjoys a deep, fully glazed dual aspect outdoor terrace. Indoor and out, guests have uninterrupted views across the panorama of Jerusalem.

    Large guestroom with studded headboard and dark, natural tones

    Carmel Forest Spa

    Light, water and stone work in perfect harmony. It is as if the cavernous space around the pool has trapped the very source of “Jerusalem Gold” between its faceted ceiling and Jerusalem stone walls. The grand design statements of the rough-hewn lava stone feature wall with its cascading waterfall and the golden crystalline structure of the ceiling capture elements of the volcanic. Shimmering bronze chain-link is suspended along a glazed wall to obscure the gym.

    In contrast to this grandeur, the seven treatment rooms, including a couple’s treatment suite, are simple and calming. They combine warm timber floors with a stone envelope and a light projection wall to create spaces where the focus is all on guest wellbeing.

    Large open pool on the hotel's rooftop
    Rooftop Pool and Orientop Bar

    The rooftop pool and bar tops out the new building at 10th level. Guests can take full advantage of the spectacular 360 degree views over the old city walls whilst lounging in cabanas and pergolas by the poolside, or sipping cocktails in the glamourous, electric blue and white tiled bar, which has been decked out with artisan ceramic tables discovered by the designers in a local market.

    “We approach every project with an open and curious mind,” explained Constantina Tsoutsikou, Creative Director of HBA London. “Our designers love to immerse themselves not just in the history and traditions of a place, but also the contemporary local culture, borrowing from both old and new to craft exceptional spaces that uniquely belong to their location.”

    The Orient opens not as a contemporary hotel, but more a timeless masterpiece that has been sensitively designed in every detail to reflect the charm and character of the historic city it surrounds.

    Key Suppliers:

    Lighting: Northern Lights
    Carpet/flooring: Timber floors May Sharon- Carpets and rugs- Brintons, Renby and  Dikla carpets
    Furniture: Ahsap and  Interdecor
    Wallcovering: Bruno triplet; Elite Homewear
    Fabrics/textiles: Etun Fabrics
    Bath fixtures: Cifial
    Artwork: Sharon Toval

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  • AUTHOR

    Hamish Kilburn

    All stories by: Hamish Kilburn