As we were planning our trip we were a little confused about what we were intending to do, it was nothing strange, we were just including a couple of nights at the Jacir hotel in Bethlehem, Palestine, formerly an Intercontinental. Information about Bethlehem is very confusing, we arrived through Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, and we rented a car there. Some people claim is very dangerous, others say it is forbidden to drive a Israeli car rental into Palestine and yes it is true that Israeli insurance does not cover anything here so is something to keep in mind, but the fact is that we decided to give it a try and it ended up being a fantastic experience.
The hotel is located very close to the crossing point in the wall coming from Jerusalem, we actually were able to see a little part of that horrible wall from our room. The first impression of the property is excellent. It is a historic palace that has been transformed into this big hotel. There is a secured free parking lot with 24 hours security. We did not experience any trouble crossing the wall coming from Jerusalem and it was nice to be able to park the car in this very safe place.
The reception is located in the historical part of the building. Everybody was extremely attentive and friendly. At check in we were offered an upgrade to a junior suite, plus they gave us free breakfast and internet access. They are just so thrilled that we decided to spend these days in Bethlehem since most visitors just come for some hours in organized tours and they leave after couple hours without any major impact on the local economy.
The room was spacious and clean. Every time we encountered anyone who works in the hotel, they asked if we needed anything. Breakfast was excellent with many different options. The hotel has a health club with a Sauna, jacuzzi, Steam Bath, and a gym.
The main building offers a very nice bar, an ATM and a souvenir shop. The business center is open 24 hours and one can access internet, print, scan or fax anything inside. The hotel offers a club level with an executive lounge serving breakfast, snacks and drinks.
We noted that some areas of the hotel could be renovated, but keeping in mind the limitations with which these people have to deal with everyday we actually think they do a very nice job running the Hotel.
We will encourage travelers to come here and visit this fascinating city, not only for some hours. Bethlehem is a place that deserves a deeper experience, it is an overall a safe destination and locals are tremendously friendly with visitors.