I’d love to tell you more about the architects responsible for the 5 star Isrotel overlooking Ramon crater, but it’s impossible to get them to return calls and there’s no information online. As for the communications person, either she wasn’t given the skinny on the design or her English is as good as my Hebrew (which is virtually nonexistent.)
Nonetheless, the place is so beautiful that I had to show off my photographs. Located in the Negev desert and a comfortable distance from Israel’s busiest cities, the hotel offers eight different kinds of rooms and a range of beautification options that cost as much as renting a houseboat in Cairo – for a month.
In case it isn’t already clear, Isrotel Beresheet is not for everyone; the rooms alone go for up to $500 per night, not to mention the inevitable add-ons!
But if you’re a trustfund greenie with a pile of cash to burn, or you’re looking for a special location to spend a honeymoon night or two, then this might be for you.
My 45 minute visit coincided with sunset, so the stone cladding was saturated with the most glorious light, and gaping at the 500 meter deep erosion crater below, also called a makhtesh, is a soul-soothing experience worth far more than even the best foot soak.
The lobby decor is exceptionally tasteful – even for a peace-loving hippie like me – and sensitive to both the cultural and natural surroundings. Especially impressive were bespoke lamps made with twisted branches and an antique black-and-white photograph of a Bedouin man and his proud horse.
Semi-nomadic Arabs with a long history in the Negev desert, the Bedouins are largely marginalized in modern Israel, but it is possible to experience their famously warm hospitality through visits arranged by hotel staff. Although we’re not certain how frequently guests make use of this opportunity, said tours have the potential to salvage the Bedouins’ cultural heritage and provide a source of income.
A fleet of good-looking mountain bikes parked outside the front door can mean only one thing: wicked mountain biking for the more intrepid guests. Which is great news for guests as there are a host of places to use them in the Ramon Nature Reserve.
Fortunate explorers who venture out during cooler hours might run across a wild ass or an ibex, which are doing quite well thanks to concerted conservation efforts and despite a local solar farm, and hyenas and leopards are said to be roaming the desert as well (so says Wikipedia.)
Since 2005, the Israeli government has made a concerted effort to accommodate tourists in the Negev region but some complaints on Trip Advisor show that the Isrotel Beeresheet is not the friendliest location of them all. One man claims that a dearth of signs makes finding the hotel unnecessarily difficult, but bear in mind that he was also offended by having a sensor-operated mini bar in his room and no wash cloth (the horror!)
If you have more beans in your pocket than I and a matching spirit of adventure, why not head to this expensive hilltop hotel and fill in the blanks. Is the food as good as it looks? Does anyone actually rent those pretty bikes? And how well does a glass of house red go down with that spectacular view?
All images via Tafline Laylin