Jaffa’s First Luxury Hotel comes to life...

The Drisco Hotel Tel Aviv - History

  • 1866
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    The Drisco brothers decided
    to build a luxury hotel
    On September 22, 1866, a group of 40 American families arrived at the shores of Jaffa, bringing supplies, agricultural equipment and pre-fabricated wooden homes, just like those they left behind in their home state of Maine.
    The colonists were led by George J. Adams, a self-proclaimed prophet, and founder of the New England Church of the Messiah. The group arrived in Palestine with a mission to prepare the land for the second coming, as detailed in the Church’s scriptures. Among these early colonists were two brothers, John and George Drisco, who unlike their fellow colonists who turned to farming, decided they wanted to build a hotel.
  • 1870
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    Templar Ernst Hardegg bought the hotel and naming it “Jerusalem hotel”.
    The brothers though weren’t quite cut out for living the life of a colonist and after a few years they ended up broke and having to sell to Ernst Hardegg, a Templar hotelier who bought both the hotel and the neighboring property and re-named it the Jerusalem Hotel, as it primarily functioned as a stop for those who landed in the Port of Jaffa and on their pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
  • 1870-1940
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    Jerusalem hotel became one of the most prestigious hotels in the region
    Between the years of 1870-1940 the hotel became one of the most prestigious destinations in the region and was frequented by the likes of Thomas Cook and Mark Twain. The Jerusalem Hotel was not only the first luxury hotel of the region, but possibly also the first concept hotel - as Hardegg brilliantly decorated and aptly named the rooms after the 12 tribes of Israel, different prophets and key Biblical figures. Hardegg also managed to maintain a curious yet fine balance between the original American decor of the Drisco brothers while adding European elements of luxury and grandeur. This helped bring in an exclusive European clientele without alienating the American travellers for whom the hotel was originally built and who continued to frequent the land on their pilgrimages.
  • 1958
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    From a luxury hotel through British Headquarters to The Ministry of Education
    An early 20th century postcard shows “Hardegg’s Jerusalem Hotel” addressing both German and English speaking travellers with an American flag raised high.
    In 1940, with WW2 raging and tensions between citizens of German descent and the British reaching a climax in mandatory Palestine, the hotel was seized by the British who turned it into their military headquarters.
    After the Templers were expelled from the country, the hotel was handed over to a Swiss hotel management company.
    In 1958, as the young state of Israel neared its first decade of existence, the hotel was used to house Jewish refugees and soon thereafter it became the home for the Ministry of Education for a short period.
    Starting from the early 60’s the building increasingly became abandoned and neglected, until it stood like a ghost, a mere memory of its glorious past.
  • 2006
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    Restoration
    of a landmark hotel
    In 2006, the building began undergoing a lengthy reconstruction process, focusing on the restoration and preservation of its original architecture and its unique murals that recount in vivid color the stories of both the hotel and colony.
  • 2018
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    History repeats itself
    After a massive investment, more than a decade of intensive work led by Architect and Interior Designer Mr. Ari Shaltiel, the hotel is set to open its doors in early 2018 and present a unique mixture of old world elegance and new world comforts.
    We found it only fitting to name the hotel after the Drisco brothers, a tribute to the two American brothers who arrived on the shores of Jaffa over a century and a half ago with a dream yet never quite managed to see it through.