A Blue-Chip Hotel in Jerusalem Gets a Refresh 

Italian designer Piero Lissoni reimagines the David Citadel Hotel nearly two decades after he first dreamed it up. 

Views of the pool and Old City in the backdrop.

“My work always has a sense of continuity,” Piero Lissoni says. The Italian designer and architect recently had the opportunity to draw a direct line to a past project, with the renovation of the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem, completed earlier this year. The refurbishment of the hotel—which opened in 1988 with Lissoni’s interiors and architecture by Moshe Safdie—included public spaces, 385 guest rooms, and seven grand suites. Lissoni’s intent was to soften up the first iteration, using oak parquet floors, wood wall paneling, a palette of deep purples and grays, and custom furniture and lighting by Living Divani, Flos, and others. Serigraphed glass panels depict vintage travel scenes inspired by the work of the Scottish Orientalist artist David Roberts, who toured the Middle East in the 1830s. Another key influence: Jerusalem’s famous light, abundant throughout the hotel with its glass roof and horseshoe shape framing views of the Old City. “I introduced the warm atmosphere of Jerusalem by using natural lighting, traditional colors, and work from local artists,” says Lissoni. The overall effect is rich and cocooning, a counterpoint to Safdie’s somewhat severe limestone construction. “We often say to ourselves, I would like to return to this hotel because I feel at home there,” Lissoni says. “This is the magic—or maybe the trick—to designing good hotels. When you manage to mix the functional with the sensual, the unexpected with elegance, one feels the pulsating rhythm of life, just like in a real home.”

A guest room at David Citadel.

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