HBA designs one of the most distinguished luxury hotels in Israel located in German Colony of West Jerusalem.
The Orient Jerusalem by Isrotel Collection is located in one of the world’s most sacred religious sites in Jerusalem and opened July 2017. Located at the entrance to Jerusalem’s historically rich and increasingly cosmopolitan German Colony in Western Jerusalem, the landmark project is comprised of two distinctive 19th Century Templar buildings as well as a modern nine-story building.
The Orient Jerusalem features high-end restaurants and bars, a museum, a boutique spa, a ballroom and event spaces, as well as a total of 250 guestrooms and an elegant rooftop pool and bar that crowns the building. HBA drew widely on reference to local colour, materials and craft traditions, whilst keeping the vernacular of these spaces contemporary.
Celebrating Jerusalem’s sacred culture, HBA designers took inspiration from the Templar settlers, who excelled in carpentry and blacksmithing trades and whose traditions continue today through the bustling local streets, colourful marketplaces, and eclectic mix of all things artisan. Golden hues of Jerusalem stone and the earthy olive groves on the fringes of the city provided a colour palette of materiality and design. HBA designers were challenged to grace the new building’s modern architecture with the district’s rich heritage while bringing the charm of the existing rooms into the public areas and guestrooms of the new buildings. The result is a welcoming ambience, combining comfort on a personal scale with the polish of a world-class hotel.
“The experience of designing the interiors for The Orient was particularly captivating. Building the narrative for the hotel was a journey of discovery through old Jerusalem and the German Colony,” said Sarah Williams, senior designer at HBA. “This is a city of cultures so entwined and rich in traditional craftsmanship, and we made sure that this inheritance touched every space.”
The journey begins with a grand atrium of glass and Jerusalem stone – the purity of design is imposing. A high glazed ceiling lets in an abundance of natural light and is dressed with gently gathered drapery that lends softness to the space while also shielding guests from the midday sun and softening the acoustics. The rough-cut stone elevations of the lobby are allayed by illuminated strips of mosaic patterned tiles. Behind the ark-like reception desk stand three elegant wrought iron and glass display cabinets showcasing collections of artwork from the neighbourhood. A handcrafted chandelier cascades through the central oval stairwell and is suspended above a reflection pool two floors below.
The grand lounge bar, Khan, flows from the entrance lobby an atmospheric double-height space which is a symphony of reflective and textural surfaces. The main wall is an artful composition of framed verre églomisé mirrors mounted on a tactile cork backdrop. Reflections are captured across the room, enhancing the sense of space and creating a multidimensional ambience. Feature screens on each side of the bar have been specially designed to recall traditional local wrought iron work while the central an access cozy balconies where they can enjoy a drink while looking out over the delightful outdoor courtyard below.
The Smadar Dining Room and Courtyard Terrace impressive space, with its natural warm tones and cool white marble tops, is at the heart of the hotel. Jerusalem stone walls carry through from the exterior facade to meet etched mirror-clad walls and semi-transparent etched glass screens, posing a thrilling play of reflectivity, transparency and opacity. An elegant mosaic floor is the stage for a lively show kitchen. Olive wood from the groves nearby adds to the energy of the space and forms a striking composition of suspended panels with acoustic insulation for the double-height space. The dining room flows out into a triangular courtyard – an al fresco area with a chic courtyard that serves as a “secret olive grove.”
The indoor lap pool sits at the heart of the spa and looks as if the cavernous space 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. 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.
Crowning the new building at the 10th level, the rooftop pool and Orientop bar offer spectacular views from the cabanas and pergolas by the poolside. The glamorous, electric blue and white tiled bar feature artisan ceramic tables discovered by HBA designers in the local markets.
Each of the 39 guest rooms in The Templar Buildings is unique in their architectural form and detailing, challenging designers with creating 39 distinct spaces. Guestrooms combine luxury with local handcrafted authenticity that brings these buildings to life. The blue and ivory palette is meaningful and represents the “tekhelet” blue recalling the biblical blue of Judaism. 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 bedframes are focal points in the bedrooms with a blue leather chaise longue at the foot of each bed adding a further touch of opulence. 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.
The spacious guestrooms and suites in the new building reference local heritage and craftsmanship but within the context of contemporary background. Studded headboards, for example, hint at the old doors of the city, lamps are artisanal, and table tops are of olive wood. Sliding glass panels add a visual link between bedroom and bathroom, opening up to allow guests to experience the balance of natural stone, olive wood, wrought iron and plush woven fabrics across the entire space. Each room has its own balcony from which guests can savour fascinating city views.
The 24 suites provide an even more elevated experience in terms of materiality and detailing along with a spacious sitting room with deep sofas and in some cases a dining area of the terrace. The Presidential Suite combines a bedroom, bathroom and dining area along with a lounge that features a fully glazed dual aspect outdoor terrace, providing uninterrupted views of Jerusalem.
Project: Orient Jerusalem by Isrotel Exclusive Collection
Location: Jerusalem, Israel
Design Studio: HBA
Photography: Thomas Anderson