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Being one of the very first buildings constructed outside the city walls in the late nineteenth century and the beginning of the 20th century, and being so close to the Old City and the current border between East Jerusalem and West Jerusalem, the hotel’s building has witnessed a lot of gripping moments and incidents during the past hundred plus years.

What gives the location added historic value is that it is built over the site of a 4th century Byzantine church as was documented by the antiquities authorities when they discovered part of the church’s foundation in the backyard of the hotel. When the Sassanid Persians controlled  Jerusalem for about 15 years in the 6th century, they destroyed a lot of churches. Only the most important were repaired and rehabilitated in their aftermath. The hotel’s site was not one of them and it was later abandoned for many years until the late eighteenth century.

In the beginning, the hotel’s building is believed to have been an Ottoman police station. Around it, a number of other buildings were erected, some even a little earlier. Men were mobilized to the go to the world war from this station. The nearby sites and institutions in the neighborhood of the hotel are of unique importance. They include the Schmidt’s Girls College, the Dominican Convent and the Garden Tomb. 

The hotel’s site became a house for one of the main families of Jerusalem, and then it became a school. The school closed its doors in 1948 in the aftermath of the war which lead to the division of the city into an East Jerusalem and a West Jerusalem. The Khalaf family of Ramallah took over the building in the beginning of the 50’s and converted it into a pension for pilgrimage groups.

Our family took over the hotel in 1960. However, the building was partially destroyed and burnt during the 6th day war in the summer of 1967. This part of the building was repaired, however,  it lost its red brick roof, which was a common architectural element of most of the houses built during that period.


My father was diagnosed with Parkinson disease in 1980; the “Hotel Services” company from Jerusalem took over its management until 1989 when I returned from my studies in the States and re-assumed ownership of the business.  

In 1993, the hotel started a thorough rehabilitation plan to become a heritage hotel. No doubt there are certain elements that cannot be upgraded because of the limitations imposed by the shape of the building, the owners of the building and the municipal zoning laws and regulations, however, many amenities and services are continuously added to make the hotel as convenient and as unique as possible.