A VISIT TO THE KING DAVID HOTEL IN JERUSALEM
Jerusalem is famous for its holy sites, but many other historical buildings embrace history and heritage, the King David hotel is the most famous hotel in the capital of Israel and worth a visit on one of the daily tours in Jerusalem.
In 1929, the Muscari family - a wealthy Jewish family from Egypt, initiated the establishment of a luxury hotel in Jerusalem. They proposed the idea to their business partners including Joseph Katwai Bey the Egyptian finance minister. The business opportunity stemmed from the forthcoming mandate period and the economic growth that would follow. The increasing activity of the Zionist movement was also taken into account.
The family founded "Palestine Hotels Ltd" to invest in the construction of the King David Hotel Jerusalem, and the company bought from the Greek Orthodox Church in 1929 an 18-dunam plot of land on Julian Street (now called King David Street) and paid 31,000 Lira for the plot. The walls of the Old City passed through the Tower of David and Mount Zion, and the inspiration from the Tower of David probably gave the hotel its name - "King David Hotel".
The architect was Emil Watt who worked with the local architect - Benjamin Tzeikin. The building has 6 floors
Square and symmetrical with an elegant entrance. The decorations inside the building, as designed by the architect Hofshmid, are taken from many cultures such as Assyrian, Hittite, and Phoenician culture, Muslim culture, and of course you can also see Jewish elements starring David and Solomon.
THE KING DAVID HOTEL DURING THE BRITISH MANDATE
The hotel was opened on 20/12/1930 and its standard was very high. Selected food products were brought from Cairo, the staff was international - waiters from Egypt, management from Switzerland and chefs from Italy, but all this did not help the hotel in its early years as its opening was after the events of 1890, and regardless of this the world was in the great economic crisis. All over the world.
Towards 1933 its operators began to see the light at the end of the tunnel and the hotel became profitable.
In 1936, the period of the great Arab uprising (events) began, and once again there was a decline in tourist traffic and hotel profitability. The important guests at the hotel in 1936 were members of the Elephant Commission who came to investigate the outbreak of the Great Arab Revolt, and at the end of their inquiry recommended dividing the country into two states.
In October 1938, the British leased the southern wing of the hotel and turned it into the military and administrative center of the British Mandate in the country. The central location of the building was an advantage in its new role. Two-thirds of the hotel rooms served the British government and only a third of the rooms could accommodate other guests.
Economically the hotel benefited from this move.
On July 22, 1946, the "Hagana" infiltrated 300 kilograms of explosives into the southern wing of the southern wing, killing 90 people: 28 British, 41 Arabs, 17 Jews, and 5 others. Dozens of people were injured in the operation.
The hotel did not close following the explosion and the British switched to using the undamaged parts of the hotel, and of course, no regular guests stayed there. This situation lasted until the end of the British Mandate period in May 1948, when the hotel became part of the British security zones, and the entire area around was fenced with barbed wire and well preserved.
KING DAVID HOTEL AFTER THE BRITISH MANDATE
After the British left, the hotel was the headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross. In this context, the King David hotel and the YMCA building in front of him served as a hostel for women and children who were made homeless by the war. Was the headquarters of Count Brandt.
After the War of Independence, the hotel returned to the "Land of Israel Hotels Company", which did not renovate the hotel and used the existing rooms.
In 1956, the Dan Hotel chain purchased the King David Hotel and renovated the ruined southern wing.
Beyond that, the hotel has undergone a very significant renovation and upgrade including bathroom and bath in each room (before that these toilets were shared on each floor) improvement of the heating system, and significant renovation in the kitchen. In 1958 the hotel reopened. But the 1960s were not good economically, as there was a recession in the country, and it should also be remembered that the hotel was right on the border when the Jordanian positions sitting on the wall, looked towards the more luxurious rooms (those with the view), and each stretch required special assessments by the hotel. Occupancy was low and the hotel management decided to take advantage of this and expand the building by adding two more floors. The municipality approved the addition of the two floors but provided it with the addition of a mezzanine floor for the military and the municipality in an emergency. After the Six-Day War when there was no need for a military mezzanine floor the extra floor was transferred to the hotel and its needs. Another problem that preoccupied the builders was that the lower part of the hotel was facing stones from Hebron, and no stones of the same color were found in Israel. The problem was solved after the Six-Day War when access to Hebron was made possible. The war itself caused little damage to the hotel due to the short time it was conducted.
THE KING DAVID HOTEL IN JERUSALEM TODAY
After the six-day war, the hotel became a luxury hotel exactly as its planners dreamed of, and is even considered one of the leading hotels in Jerusalem, and perhaps also the most prestigious of them. In 1996/7, the hotel underwent massive renovations again to adapt it to the 21st century and too tough competition with the new hotels built in Jerusalem and especially the neighboring Hotel, the David Citadel.
Today the number of rooms in the hotel is 230, including special suites such as the Presidential Suite or the Royal Suite.
VISITING THE KING DAVID HOTEL IN JERUSALEM
The hotel over the years has hosted top people from all over the world such as:
Ethiopian Emperor Haile Scelsi, Emir Abdullah of Jordan, Egyptian King Farouk, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, UN Secretary-General Doug Hammersheld, US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, US Presidents Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, French Prime Minister, and President Jacques Chirac, King of Spain Juan Carlos, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, British Prince Che Rels, German Chancellor Angela Marker, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and more.
Along the corridor on the floor, you can see the names and signatures of important personalities who were hosted at the hotel.
Today you can enter the king David hotel and explore this amazing building free of charge, perhaps you can also have lunch or dinner in the finest restaurants of this amazing hotel! during a guided tour of Jerusalem, I will be happy to take you on a quick tour to see this historical site.