Jerusalem is filled with hotels and accommodation options but it is not so often that you can find a hotel with a history and a story that will enhance your stay.
Last month, I had the opportunity to sit down with the owners of the new Templer Inn in the German Colony – it was clear to me that the story I heard was one that I wanted to share.
The Templer Inn is an all suite family run Bed & Breakfast based in a historic Templer building across the street from the First Station and next door to the new Isrotel. With four large suites, it is an ideal place for families, couples or business travelers. The Inn has a large outdoor patio/garden area that can be used for events and is currently the location for breakfast.
I asked Alon a few questions about the history of the building and how his family was connected to it. His answers form the story and paint a picture of Jerusalem in generations past.
What is special about this building for you?
This house holds the memories of three generations of my family. My grandmother lived in this house for 61 years, from 1951 until her death in 2012. My father, who was killed in Jerusalem in the Six Day War, grew up here.
For me it was always my “second home”. When my family lived abroad I would spend entire summers here (and once I stayed for 6 months).
What did people say to your grandmother when she first moved into the house?
When my grandparents moved in 1951 their friends mocked them about moving “out of town” and living “on the frontier”, but my grandfather was very stubborn.
Today the German Colony is the center of tourism and a very popular place to live.
Who were the Templers?
The Templers were a German Protestant sect who founded several settlements in the Holy Land in the late 19th century, believing that this would hasten the second coming of Christ. During the Second World War they were defined as enemy citizens and eventually deported by the British.
The houses they left behind were grand and beautiful stone structures and the neighborhood retained its name as the German Colony until today. This house was built by Christian Jakob Messerle (1851-1941), who came to Jerusalem from Russia. Messerle was a shoemaker who manufactured most of the shoes for the residents of the Colony.
What made you decide to go into the hotel business?
We’d rather call it the “bed & breakfast business”. It is something we’ve been wanting to do for a while and this was an opportunity. We also felt this was the best way to make the most of the house, and not just financially. It enabled leaving it more or less “as is”, including much of the furniture, the carpets, even the books and records, and enabling many people to experience and enjoy it. Additionally, our daily presence ensures the house and everything in it remain “intact”.
Guests have the opportunity to feel like they are living in the past with the benefits of modern touches.
How have you retained the authentic feel of the house?
Basically by hardly changing anything about it, and focusing mostly on upgrading the facilities. The house has maintained many of its original characteristics, including the stone tiles, the arched ceilings, the doors and windows. We even refurbished and used as much of my grandmother’s furniture as we could.
(Make sure to look at the old record player…your kids will love to see how music was played in the old days.)
Can you describe the renovation experience and how historic preservation effected that?
The renovation was difficult because of the nature of the house. Everything had to be done very slowly and carefully. There were countless small decisions and choices that had to be made. We made every effort to preserve everything we could, and furthermore we even restored some of the old features, such as the green wooden shutters that had been replaced in the 70s.
Who is your ideal guest at the Templer Inn?
I believe we are attractive to families, visitors on business trips, as well as romantic couples. But the ideal guest is the one who is looking for an authentic Jerusalem experience, in a “home” rather than a hotel, who’d rather get a flavor of the history of Jerusalem than a spa or a swimming pool.
What makes this a “family run” business?
Well, it’s our house and we run the business. 🙂
The house itself has been in my family for 66 years, and for the time being Revaya and I are the only people involved in running the inn. We check in the guests and make sure they have everything they need. Revaya prepares a delicious home made Israeli breakfast using all Kosher ingredients for the guests to enjoy on the shaded patio.
What is your background? Revaya’s background?
I’m a software developer and project manager.
Revaya was a holistic therapist (massage, shiatsu) and part-time caterer/cook/baker.
How do you pass on the history of the house to your guests?
First of all, the guests have a dossier in their bedroom, with some basic information about the Templers, the German Colony and the house itself. We are working on a poster and booklet that tell the story of the house and, more importantly, its inhabitants.. And if anyone is interested to hear a bit more then we are always around to provide information.
(You can arrange a tour of the house …even if you aren’t staying in the hotel)
Can people host events in your courtyard?
We believe the courtyard is ideal for hosting small (up to 70 guests) catered events. We would love families to come for a bar mitzvah, rent all four suites, and have an event in the courtyard. We are open to bringing in outside caterers and know that it would be a memorable experience.
Where do you hope to be in a year from now?
We hope to be working very hard! We hope new guests will arrive having read and heard many good things about us, and we’d love to start having many returning or even regular guests, who have enjoyed the experience that we are striving to provide.
I am sure that the next time you walk past the Templer Inn you will see the stories in the stones & shutters of the building.
Stop in to say hello! Let them know Fun In Jerusalem sent you.
**Save 10% when you book 3 or more nights this summer. Just mention Fun In Jerusalem**Contact the Templer Inn