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Jerusalem’s Waldorf-Astoria Named Top Middle East Hotel, 7th-Best in World

A poll conducted by the influential magazine Condé Nast Traveler ranked Jerusalem’s newly refurbished Waldorf-Astoria hotel as the top hotel in the Middle East and the seventh-best in the world, The Times of Israel reported Thursday. Over 128,000 readers took part in the survey.

“What an honor! We are thrilled,” the hotel responded on its Facebook page.

The Times recounted the hotel’s history.

The 226-room Waldorf opened in March 2014, after a reported $150 million refurbishment.

The former Palace Hotel in central Jerusalem, it had stood empty for years and then been used as a government ministry. The renovation and preservation of the building, which also features the city’s largest ballroom, was carried out by architect Yehuda Feigin. The three-year project included extensive work to restore the building’s blend of Roman, Moorish and Arab architecture.

An Israeli TV report last year revealed that Israel’s pre-state Haganah military force spied on the meetings of Britain’s Peel Commission at the hotel. The Commission headed by Lord William Peel, which was set up to investigate the causes of unrest in Palestine and wound up recommending the partition of the Holy Land, was headquartered from late 1936 to mid-1937 in what was then the Palace. The hotel was built by the then mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, a fierce opponent of Jewish statehood who would later collaborate with Hitler’s Nazi Germany. The Haganah planted listening devices in chandeliers in the hotel, the TV report said, exploiting the expertise of two of its officers who had been involved in the building’s construction.

The Mufti’s ties to Nazi Germany and his role in inciting violence have garnered increased scrutiny in the wake of the recent increase in violence in Israel.

After the hotel reopened, Bloomberg Business featured it in a video (embedded below) explaining its history and redesign.

[Photo: Flash90 ]