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American Colony Hotel, Jerusalem

American Colony Hotel, Jerusalem


The American Colony Hotel is a boutique hotel located at the seam of east and west Jerusalem, a former Pasha’s palace built in the 19th century, It has an old world feel and over a hundred years of history.  It has elegant charm, is close to the Old City of Jerusalem, and provides all the needs for today’s modern traveler. For those who want to feel like they are in Old Jerusalem, this is a great choice.

We stayed at the American Colony Hotel for six nights.  Security was a big factor for us so we were pleased to be greeted by an impressive manned security gate before reaching the front entrance of the hotel.


The American Colony Hotel Entrance

The American Colony Hotel Entrance

The American Colony Hotel Entrance


The history of the American Colony dates back to the late nineteenth century, following the tragic events of the Spafford family, a devoutly Christian family that left Chicago in 1881 in order to find peace in the holy city of Jerusalem and to offer aid to families in distress.  Following the loss of their four young daughters in a shipwreck, the Spaffords, together with sixteen other members of their church, calling themselves “The Overcomers”, journeyed to Jerusalem and settled together in a small house in the Old City.  With their charitable door open  to their Arab and Jewish neighbors as well as Bedouin from around the city and from across the Jordan River, they established good relations with the local population and became well known for their acts of benevolence and assistance to the community. People referred to them simply as ‘the Americans.’

Seventy Swedes living in the United States joined ‘the Americans’ in 1894, followed by another fifty five from Nas in Sweden two years later. This much larger group required bigger premises. The home they bought was initially built as a palace for a pasha and his four wives. That palace would soon become The American Colony Hotel.

The seeds of the American Colony as a hotelwere sown in 1902, when Baron Ustinov (grandfather of actor Sir Peter Ustinov), finding the Turkish inns of the time unacceptable, needed suitable accommodation in Jerusalem to house his visitors from Europe and America. Before long, the American Colony became a lodging for Western travelers and pilgrims whose expectations were not met by the establishments then existing in Jerusalem.


The American Colony Hotel Entrance

The American Colony Hotel Entrance


The hotel’s interior is stylish and comfortable, with oriental rugs, Armenian ceramics and polished stone floors. The idyllic courtyard garden is a perfect escape from the city’s relentless buzz.   We enjoyed exploring the hotel and its history with a walk around the property viewing the newspaper clippings and framed articles of its history and the families that occupied the hotel.


The American Colony Hotel Reception Area

The American Colony Hotel Reception Area

The American Colony Hotel Gardens

The American Colony Hotel Tile Work



We had a corner Superior Room on the fourth floor of the main house, overlooking the pool area facing the mosque. We could hear the call to prayer 5 times a day starting with the first call at 4:30 in the morning. But, we’re in the Middle East, it’s part of the atmosphere.

Our room was very spacious with the queen size bed on one corner of the room and a sitting area with a desk on the other.  The room had a mini bar, ample closet space, and a safe to store away all your valuables. The room had a classic feel to it. The black and white tiled bathroom and stand alone tub were comfortable. One of my favorite things in the bathroom were buttons in the wall that played classical music, which was perfect for soaking in the tub or just getting ready.


The American Colony Hotel Bedroom - Superior Room

The American Colony Hotel Bedroom - Superior Room

The American Colony Hotel Bedroom - Superior Room

The American Colony Hotel - Pool Area

The American Colony Hotel - bathroom toiletries

The American Colony Hotel - Bathroom Radio


The American Colon offers a choice of 96 rooms and suites in four separate buildings.  All buildings are surrounded with unique gardens.  The rooms feature all you would expect from a 5-star hotel, from complimentary internet, 24 hour room service, to famous Italian “Frette” linen.  The most elaborate suite in the hotel is Room 6.  It was a suite builded by the Pasha for his fourth wife as her winter quarter.  The suite features a terrace and a much talked-about four-poster bed.


The American Colony Hotel - Pasha Room


Room Tip: I would ask for a room away from the local mosque as the call to prayer might wake you up early in the morning like it did me.



In the morning we started out with a delicious buffet layout in the Arabesque dining room.  They have an assortment of cheeses, salmon, breads, and made-to-order omelettes.    Lunch is served out in the courtyard where you are surrounded by lemon and olive trees .  You can even smell the fresh herbs that grow in the garden which they use for seasoning.   In the evening you can have dinner either in Val’s Brasserie or the Arabesque Dining Room.  After dinner we would go to the bar downstairs which was a comfortable hideout.


American Colony Hotel - Arabesque Dining Room

American Colony Hotel - Arabesque Buffet Breakfast

American Colony Hotel - Arabesque Dining Hall

American Colony Hotel - Arabesque Buffet Breakfast

American Colony Hotel - Outdoor Patio Area

American Colony Hotel - Outdoor Patio Area



Pool and gym are in the back courtyard and were very empty when we went. It felt like a private estate pool.


American Colony Hotel - Pool


The hotel has a pair of shops on the premises where you can buy books, pictures, antiques and Middle Eastern artifacts.   I fell in love with the tissue box in my room that was beautifully decorated and found them at the shop for sale.  I brought three of them.


American Colony Hotel - Shops

American Colony Hotel - Shops

American Colony Hotel - Shops - tissue box


The location is convenient for visiting the old city. It is about a 10 minute walk to the Damascus Gate. Taxis are always waiting in the courtyard so they are also a convenient option. Add your name to a guest list that includes Lawrence of Arabia, Winston Churchill, Bob Dylan, Uma Thurman, Tony Blair, and Mikhail Gorbachev.

Overall, The American Colony Hotel is an excellent choice for travelers looking for a boutique hotel with luxury in a historic setting.  This is a beautiful hotel with fantastic service and incredible gardens. There is nothing but wonderful things to say about it. It is near the Arab Quarter of the Old City and very close to the Damascus Gate.  We felt very safe and very well taken care of.

To be clear, The American Colony is in what is considered East Jerusalem which is the older part of the city and which has unclear political status. It is the area taken by Israel in the Six Day War of 1967 and today, it’s where political issues are played.  If you want to stay in a safer more modern more established part of Israel, you should choose a hotel in West Jerusalem which is the portion that has been part of Israel since 1948.

The American Colony Hotel is a proud member of The Leading Hotels of the World



About the author

Carmen Edelson is the Founder of Carmen's Luxury Travel. Carmen has been traveling the world for over a decade. Her travels allow her the opportunity to pursue her itch to travel to the best luxury destinations, and experience those first class tastes from around the world.


  1. Vicky Alonso [MissArretrancos]
    November 16, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    The pool area is very beautiful.
    I bought the same box when I was in Egypt but mine is for jewelry. 😀

    Are you thinking in your next trip?

    • Carmen
      November 16, 2014 at 7:09 pm

      Hi Vicky,

      We didn’t get a chance to try the pool, but I’ll definitely use it next time we stay Jerusalem. I’m not sure where my trip will take me, but stayl tune.

  2. Vanessa
    November 16, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    It looks very cozy with that beautiful interior. I would want to stay they when I get to visit Jerusalem and taste the food that lady is cooking! The sound of garden smelling of fresh herbs is relaxing.

    • Carmen
      November 30, 2014 at 1:21 am

      Hi Vanessa, It’s certainly one of the better places to stay in Jerusalem. I especially enjoyed having lunch in the garden area surrounded by all the trees and fresh flowers. It was very relaxing indeed.

  3. Hanna
    November 30, 2014 at 7:41 am

    Usually I don’t care about hotels as I travel somewhere to meet the local people and their culture and to sightsee the city, not the hotels 😉 but I guess I’d like this one! I really like the oriental atmosphere of the lobby and the garden!

    • Carmen
      November 30, 2014 at 2:31 pm

      Hi Hanna,

      I’m also enjoy emerging in the culture of the city we visit. What was interesting about this hotel is the history behind it. Everywhere around the hotel you see old pictures on the wall. It made me feel at home.

  4. Rob Taylor
    March 21, 2016 at 10:01 pm

    That is quite the story of its creation. A beautiful hotel certainly is a great memorial to loss and creating a new life. And the hotel would be a lovely place to stay 🙂

    • Carmen Edelson
      March 23, 2016 at 1:53 pm

      It was a very tragic beginning for the family, but they were able to turn it around and creative a relaxing escape for people to come and stay.

  5. Heather Cole
    March 22, 2016 at 3:48 pm

    I love places that retain so much of their history, and this place sounds like it has an amazing story to tell, such a lovely concept for the ‘Americans’ to establish after their grief. And the calls to prayer just add that extra little bit of magic, I love hearing it in the night to remind me where I am.

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