Review: Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem

Introduction: An Amazing Week In Israel With My Parents
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Review: Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem
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We were spending a total of one week in Israel, and were planning on splitting our time between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and then doing day trips from both cities. When it came to planning this trip, I was in charge of flights and hotels, while my mom was in charge of planning our activities on the ground. In retrospect we should have coordinated better, as we ended up seeing some things out of Tel Aviv that would have been more convenient out of Jerusalem, etc.

Anyway, based on hotel availability we decided to book our first three nights at the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem, given that it’s probably the best points hotel in the city. My mom and I were staying for three nights, and we redeemed 95,000 Hilton Honors points per night for the stay (it would have been a better value to stay five nights and get the fifth night free, but there wasn’t availability for all five nights).

Then my dad joined us for the last two nights, and we booked that room through Virtuoso, which was about $450 per night, and included a room upgrade, a $100 food & beverage credit, etc. I figured by booking one room using cash and one using points I was splitting the difference in terms of the out of pocket.

The drive from Ben Gurion Airport to Jerusalem took just under an hour, and we arrived at the hotel before 8AM. The Waldorf Astoria has a beautiful exterior, with the main part of the building having a pretty classic look (given that it’s a historic building), and then there’s a tower behind it with more rooms.


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem exterior

The hotel’s bellman — who is quite a character — welcomed us and offered to assist us with our luggage.

The hotel has a lovely lobby, with a beautiful floral arrangement acting as the centerpiece. Reception was located inside the entrance and to the right.


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem lobby


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem lobby

We proceeded to check-in and inquired about the availability of rooms (as usual, I proactively mentioned that I realized we were way early, and that it was totally fine if a room wasn’t ready). The guy explained that no rooms were available immediately, but that he’d put us in the queue as soon as possible.

As he looked at room inventory he said “there’s a deluxe room that’s available and just needs to be cleaned, but I’ll have to ask my manager if I can upgrade you to that.” While I’m only an Honors Gold member, I think that’s pretty indicative of my elite upgrade experience with Hilton. If someone is entitled to an upgrade and the next category of room is available, it’s sad when a front office associate isn’t empowered to upgrade someone without asking a manager.

It ended up taking almost four hours for our room to be ready. We were still checking in way ahead of check-in time, though they didn’t do a very good job managing expectations, as the guy told us that he thought a room would be ready within 90 minutes.

In the meantime I had a seat in the atrium area and got some work done, so that we could go out and sightsee in the afternoon. The hotel has a very nice atrium spanning four floors that has lots of natural light.


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem lobby


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem lobby

While I loved the design as such, I couldn’t help but feel like the cheap patio furniture was an odd choice for the lobby of a luxury hotel. This seems more appropriate at an Embassy Suites than a Waldorf Astoria, in my opinion.


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem lobby

There was some more traditional lobby seating, including a couch and some leather chairs, to the side, behind the concierge desk.


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem lobby

Then on the opposite side was another small atrium with some retail outlets.


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem lobby

Once our room was ready we headed up to the third floor. The elevators are located inside the lobby and to the left, and they’re the type of elevators where you select the floor you want to go to, and then it tells you which elevator to use.


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem elevators

Once on the third floor we had views of both of the hotel’s atriums.


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem atrium


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem atrium

My mom and I were assigned room 324, a twin deluxe room.


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem room exterior


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem floorplan

The room had an entryway with some closets on the left and then a bathroom on the right. The hotel is only a few years old, so the room felt nice and fresh.


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem twin deluxe room entryway

The room wasn’t especially large, particularly for an upgrade over the base room, and featured two twin beds that were pushed together.


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem twin deluxe room


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem twin deluxe room

At the foot of the bed was a seat with room for two, and then across from that was a desk with a chair and then a TV on top of a console.


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem twin deluxe room couch


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem twin deluxe room desk & TV

In the corner of the room was a chair. It was comfortable, though it would have been nice if there were an ottoman (then again, I guess that would have made the room feel even smaller).


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem twin deluxe room chair

The room faced the exterior of the hotel, though there wasn’t much to see.


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem twin deluxe room view

Back near the entrance on the left was the minibar and the in-room Nespresso machine.


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem twin deluxe room Nespresso machine


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem twin deluxe room minibar

The bathroom was near the entrance as well, and featured a sink, a walk-in shower, a soaking tub, and a toilet in a separate room.


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem twin deluxe room bathroom


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem twin deluxe room toilet


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem twin deluxe room shower


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem twin deluxe room bathtub

Toiletries were from Ahava, and were pleasant but forgettable.


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem toiletries

Overall I thought the room was nice. It wasn’t over the top amazing, or anything, but was perfectly comfortable and luxurious.

While we were spending three days in Jerusalem, my dad only arrived a day later, so we booked a second room for the last two nights. While the first reservation was on points, we booked the second one through Virtuoso, and that room automatically got upgraded to a king grand deluxe room. This room was located in the tower of the hotel, rather than in the main building around the atrium.


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem grand deluxe king room exterior

The grand deluxe room was significantly nicer than the deluxe room, I must say. It featured a long entryway with the bathroom right by the entrance.


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem grand deluxe king room entryway

The room was marginally bigger, though I feel like it made a significant difference in terms of how it felt.


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem grand deluxe king room


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem grand deluxe king room


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem grand deluxe king room desk & TV

This room also had somewhat better views than the other one.


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem grand deluxe king room view

There was also a welcome amenity consisting of fruit and a bottle of red wine.


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem grand deluxe king room welcome amenity


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem grand deluxe king room welcome amenity

The biggest difference was with the bathroom, as this bathroom featured double sinks (one on each side), and then a big tub in the middle.


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem grand deluxe king room bathtub


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem grand deluxe king room bathroom

The toilet and shower were basically the same as in the other room.


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem grand deluxe king room toilet


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem grand deluxe king room shower

All Honors members receive complimentary wifi, and the standard wifi was sufficient.

In terms of the hotel’s other features, all rates at this hotel include breakfast, which is served daily from 6:30AM until 10:30AM (11AM on Saturdays) in The Palace Restaurant, located just off the lobby. I didn’t get the sense that the hotel was all that full, and as a result breakfast was never that crowded (though this might as well have been the Waldorf Astoria Milwaukee based on the people here — everyone was American).


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem breakfast restaurant


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem breakfast restaurant

The breakfast buffet at this hotel was incredible. This was easily one of my favorite breakfast buffets I’ve ever had at any hotel ever. It wasn’t the biggest buffet, but the quality of everything was unbeatable. More than anything else, though, I instantly fell in love with Israeli food, and this buffet had plenty of it. Yum, yum, yum.

Near the dining tables was an area with bread, smoothies, juice, water, pastries, etc.


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem breakfast buffet


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem breakfast buffet


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem breakfast buffet


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem breakfast buffet


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem breakfast buffet


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem breakfast buffet


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem breakfast buffet


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem breakfast buffet

Then the main part of the buffet was in a separate room, where there were nearly a dozen hot dishes, cereal, all kinds of cold cuts, etc. I’ll let the pictures mostly speak for themselves.


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem breakfast buffet


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem breakfast buffet


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem breakfast buffet


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem breakfast buffet


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem breakfast buffet


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem breakfast buffet


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem breakfast buffet


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem breakfast buffet


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem breakfast buffet


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem breakfast buffet


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem breakfast buffet


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem breakfast buffet


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem breakfast buffet


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem breakfast buffet


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem breakfast buffet


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem breakfast buffet

The coffee was also excellent, as were the cappuccinos. The problem sometimes was actually getting a refill. The first morning service at breakfast was awful, while the next two days service was excellent, as we had the same server both days.


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem capuccino

On the opposite side of the lobby of the breakfast restaurant was the all day bar and restaurant, King’s Court, where we ended up having drinks and food a couple of times. That’s not because there aren’t better food options in Jerusalem (of course there are), but after sightseeing all day I often had to work, so it was convenient to be able to eat while working on my laptop). The food and service in the bar area were both quite good.


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem restaurant & bar


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem lunch

One disappointing aspect of this hotel is that it has been open for years, though they don’t actually have a real gym and spa yet. Instead for the time being there’s a temporary gym on the first floor (it’s really room 111), which has very limited equipment. I’m not sure what the problem is, but it seems crazy for the hotel to be open this long and to still not have a gym and spa. There’s also no pool.


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem gym


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem gym


Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem gym

In terms of other observations about the hotel, the location was excellent. It was within walking distance of the Old City, and just across the street from Mamilla Mall, which is a pedestrian area with all kinds of great shops and restaurants. So the location gets high marks from me.


Jerusalem


Jerusalem

My mom’s biggest complaint was the concierge team. I left her in charge of planning everything on the ground, and she felt like dealing with the concierges was like pulling teeth, as they weren’t very proactive with advice, etc. I can’t speak to this firsthand, but she unfortunately had nothing good to say about the concierge team here.

Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem bottom line

The way I see it, the best things about the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem are the location and the breakfast, both of which are top notch. The hotel itself is nice physically, though doesn’t have much of a “wow” factor. Everything else about the hotel I found to be pretty inconsistent — service was good in some cases and bad in others, and I think it’s ridiculous that they don’t have a proper gym or spa.

Ultimately this hotel seems to be able to get away with charging a premium because the Waldorf Astoria gets name recognition from foreign travelers, so there’s not a lot of value to be had. For that matter, we must have spent almost 12 hours per day touring in Israel, so hotel quality matters less to me here than in other markets.

Still, if you’re a Hilton loyalist and/or want to earn or redeem points, this is the most luxurious option in Jerusalem.

If you’ve stayed at the Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem, what was your experience like?

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Comments

  1. Can’t speak to this hotel, but agree that most hotel breakfasts in Israel are among the best in the world! Have enjoyed the King David and David Citadel in Jerusalem, and the Sheraton, Renaissance, and Intercontinental in Tel Aviv and ALL of them shown (though we were particularly thrilled with the David Citadel as much for the view as for the food).

  2. You mentioned that all rates were inclusive of breakfast- that applies to Award stays as well?

    thanks
    FDW

  3. Ben, thanks for an excellent review. Definitely one of my favorite hotels in the world. The breakfast buffet is truly amazing.

    When you say “Old Town,” you must mean The Old City. I’ve never heard it called Old Town. 🙂

  4. Nice review. Funny how hotels are reluctant to offer upgrades to elite (even Gold) on award stays where you are using your hard earned loyalty points but they will upgrade a person who books through an OTA with cash. Jerusalem is expensive for hotels but $450 a night. Still seems steep for what you experienced. Definitely better than the Crowne Plaza but doesn’t look as nice at the Intercontinental in TLV.
    I would also be interested to see if this hotel has a different Sabbath breakfast experience on Saturday mornings?

  5. I stayed here for two nights last March using my two free nights on a weekend from my credit card. I was proactively upgraded to the grand deluxe king room since I was Hilton gold. I agree that the breakfast was the best I’ve ever had!
    The staff even comped my parking fees! The location is perfect and I would recommend it, but cash rates are really high…….

  6. Stayed in August.

    Very similar experience with reception. Had to get approval for upgrade.
    You haven’t emphasized enough how gorgeous the property is.
    Rooms indeed slightly on the smaller side, but that’s what you get for 100+ year old restored hotels.

    Breakfast, hands down. World class.

    In any case, the management is contemplating dropping the Waldorf brand:
    Too many point redemption guests, so get it while it lasts.

  7. Great review of a gorgeous hotel. And although there are 1000 reason I love going to Israel, Israeli breakfast, and food for that matter, are high on my list!!

  8. Great review. We were in Jerusalem around the same time as you. I drove myself crazy wanting to book this hotel, but not wanting to blow the budget and part with $900 per night (family of four won’t fit into those rooms). Ultimately we booked an AirBnB for only $123 a night. We had a brand new spacious one bedroom complete with balcony and washer/dryer located right in the center of West Jerusalem – only a 10 min walk to the Old City. After seeing these pictures, I am so happy with what we decided. While the breakfast looks incredible, the rest of the hotel lacks the “wow factor” that justifies those kind of prices.

  9. Interesting about breakfast at the Waldorf. The Hilton Tel Aviv charges for the restaurant breakfast if you’re on a point stay (included on all paid rates). But, they do give Golds (and Diamonds) access to their tiny Executive Lounge, which has an ok spread and all day drinks. No access to their Vista Lounge without paying or redeeming outright though.

    At the Hilton, I think all the rooms are pretty much the same since it’s a newer, modern hotel. Same Ahava amenities, which are pretty expensive at retailers, apparently.

  10. i was lucky to get the five nights just in November gorgeous hotel and great location loved it was in a few five star hotels while i was in israel the breakfast at the waldorf was by far the best

  11. I really need to have that breakfast! I have had some really awesome breakfasts at hotels on points or status. We are now newly SPG/Marriott Platinum and Hilton Gold too. Going to Jerusalem for the first time in 2018.

  12. Agree that hotels in Israel have some of the best breakfast buffets in the world! Better than even many places in Asia, in my opinion.

  13. I stayed at this hotel last March and was told the proper gym would be open in the summer. Interesting that it never did. We also had issues with service at breakfast. One morning I had to call the manager over to complain about the difficulty in getting coffee refills. He, of course, acted shocked, but reading your review I see they never resolved this problem. It is apparently a continuing issue. The rooms are lovely but the service was lacking. Too bad.

  14. @lucky. I agree. Waldorf Astoria’s think that just being a WA is enough and they really don’t have to try. Plus their elite benefits are awful. Give me a Conrad, especially one outside the US any day. I will credit this one for the buffet and being in a beautiful building.

    And @Tennen. I would agree that the Hilton TV is perfectly nice. My first stay there they upgraded me to a lovely corner suite. Not so much on my other visits. The beach location is great. I recommend breakfast by the beach. The Intercontinental TV is about as boring and generic as it gets. Could be anywhere.

  15. The reason for the lawn furniture in the lobby is that a portion of the roof opens. On the Jewish holiday of Sukkot, one has to eat under open sky. The whole roof in the lobby opens,ergo, it lets in the elements.

    I agree though (currently staying here) hard to get upgrades but it is the best option in Jerusalem.

  16. I can’t believe Trump gave Jerusalem to the Jews. The Arabs should be entitled to Jerusalem as well. Now Palestine must become a country no excuses.

  17. I stayed here a couple of years ago as a Diamond member on an award stay and got a nice upgrade to a Junior Suite. Not bad and it was during a busier weekend as well!
    I had been waiting for this hotel to open up for years! I had been by it many times before they even started building it and while they were building it and was glad to finally stay there. It certainly is a great option for points in Jerusalem, especially since there aren’t that many to begin with.

  18. Fantastic review. Thx

    Hope they step up their game just a little and so I might stay there one day soon.

  19. Interesting fact: The two beds pushed together, substituting for a normal king, or queen bed is the norm for hotels in Israel. Just like the majority of hotels in Israel are strictly kosher, have limited food and service on shabbat, and have a mezuzah on the doorposts, is to cater for the religious demand, which is relatively high in Israel. If I am correct, it is against Jewish halacha (laws) for a husband and wife to sleep in the same bed, and the loophole is to place two beds adjacent to each other. This hotel receives a very frum (religious) crowd on the Jewish holidays (Sukkot, Pesach, Yom Kippur), so the hotels try to cater to their needs. I also would of recommended you stay at the King David, I realize that it is not feasible with points, and out of pocket would of been incredibly expensive. If you were looking to pay out of pocket, I would of recommended the Dan Panorama, which is right across the street from the KD, and is also under the auspice of Dan Hotels Israel. I consider the DP to have the best cash value out of all hotels in Jerusalem. Half the hotel is recently renovated, and the Lobby, and it’s restaurant I find excellent. It does have a pool, unfortunately which is very small, however does boast tremendous views. The pool is nothing compared to the King David’s pool, which is among the nicest hotel pools I have visited. I hope you and your parents enjoyed Israel, and can’t wait for you to post the remainder of your review.

  20. It’s nice in my opinion but honestly kind of feels like a synagogue gathering… I would opt for the King David just down the street. A lot more character and history.

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