Tucked away in the cobble stoned allies of the old quarter in what I unhesitatingly name, the most exquisite place in the Galilee: Sefad. The whole city is pure magic, but the Ruth Rimonim Hotel manages to carry the ancient magic into its guest rooms and public areas.
In a refurbished stone building, dating back to the 17th century, we stumbled upon a hotel, unlike any other. The place is immaculately preserved, with all modern comfort, yet there isn’t a single nook that’s unaffected by ancient history and a sense of sacred beauty.
For highly observant guests, a Glatt Kosher kitchen provides delicious nourishment, including a large Israeli breakfast, buffet and dinner. (Breakfast included in the price of the room). The food is consumed in the arched, enchanting dining room, or if you wish and weather permits, on the stone and corrugated iron porches, overlooking mount Myron. The olive trees, which line the mountain slopes, are as ancient as the city itself.
The Namiluk Sultan, Bayban, erected on this very spot a stone building of great beauty, over 700 years ago. The place became known through the East, as the most lavish Turkish Khan. It sits atop a mountain, in the heart of the ‘old quarter’ of the city. It was erected along the perfume trade road, where prosperous traders of myrrh, jasmine, frankincense, balm, cinnamon, clover and the finest of raw materials would stop to rest and find shelter on their journey back and forth between Damascus and the rest of the East. The finest silks, hampers overflowing with delicious fruit came with them, and after quenching the thirst of the horses and unloading the goods, they’d assemble under the arched ceilings of the khan, eat and share stories. The hotel was built with the refurbished khan as its base.
It is an architectural masterpiece, in its ability to incorporate the old with the convenience of modern facilities, including Wi-Fi and television, modern luxurious bathrooms, loaded with cushy towels and toiletries.
The 77 guest rooms are all beautiful and very different from any newly built hotel, with each room different than the next. The furnishings and theme of each room is stunningly colourful, with an archway being a constant theme in each dwelling, and colours that speak of days long gone, the decor influenced by the colours and styles prevalent in the ancient East.
You must be made of stone, to remain untouched by the magical, mystical atmosphere of the dinning room, the tangible atmosphere of mysticism either in the hotel and the views coming in from the surrounding old quarter and the hills beyond.
With a staff of wonderfully friendly people, you’ll be able to find answers to all the magical places to visit, or join their complimentary Friday walking tours. The rooms come in Standard, Deluxe, Garden rooms and Suites, each different, and each with varying views. Whichever room you’ll pick, you’ll experience a celebration of the senses, comfort and a tranquil, almost meditative air, which permeates the whole place.
Art galleries, ancient synagogues and gardens in bloom that spread their scent in the cleanest, purest air anywhere surround the Ruth Rimonim boutique hotel.
The lovely swimming pool gives visitors a chance to swim and refresh before dressing for a tour or a night out.
The hotel provides, what they call ‘The Ruth Rimonim Special Experience’ free of charge.
The activities take place in the lobby in wintertime and in warm weather, on the beautiful patios.
I highly recommend, that if you plan to visit Upper Galilee and Sefad (or Tzfat, as it’s called in Hebrew) in particular, a stay in this hotel will bring you the full experience of perfect immersion in the culture of the place, while enjoying the luxury and relaxation after a day of touring the area, or visiting the sacred places nearby.