Gali Kinneret Hotel: A surprising vacation in Tiberias – Israel

In 1946, something happened in the field of vacations in Israel: Lotte Eisenberg decided to open a European-style hotel on the shores of the Sea of ​​Galilee, which she remembered from family vacations as a child. Its hotel, Gali Kinneret, opened its doors in the winter of that year. It was the first hotel to be built next to the Sea of ​​Galilee, in an area that in those days was a considerable distance from the houses of Tiberias, which climbed the mountain. The decor was strictly European, with soft rugs in the public areas, comfortable sofas and armchairs in the lobby and ceramic decorations in the lounge and bar. Lotte’s fondness for art is reflected in the antique items she found in Jaffa and Jerusalem and in her art collection that adorned the hotel walls. Large glass doors led from the central space to a spacious balcony overlooking the Sea of ​​Galilee. The hotel had a private pier with a boat at guests’ disposal.

Gali Kinneret Hotel today

then and today. Gali Kinneret Hotel in the Fifties and Today Top photo courtesy of Gali Kinneret, bottom photo: Amit Giron

The name of the quality hotel spread far and wide and soon leaders from Israel and abroad, including Zalman Shazar, Haim Herzog, Levi Eshkol, Shimon Peres, Tzameret Tzahal and also kings and foreign presidents who came to visit Israel, soon began to be hosted there. Ben-Gurion and his wife Paula used to be hosted on Gali Kinneret on a regular basis, their room was no different from other rooms, but a telephone was specially installed to allow Ben-Gurion to continue managing state affairs even during the vacation. It is said that when Ben-Gurion would go up to his room for lunch, Paula used to sit on a chair in the hallway, in front of the door, and silence the passing guests so that they would not make noise and disturb his rest.

A little more nostalgia.  Guests at the Gali Kinneret Hotel at the beginning of its journey

A little more nostalgia. Guests at Gali Kinneret Hotel at the beginning of its journey Photo courtesy of Gali Kinneret Hotel

Ben Gurion Suite and Dream Spa

The historical motifs are still evident today in the Gali Kinneret Hotel, which was transferred to Israel Canada Hotels and NIS 70 million was invested in its renovation, and recently reopened. The current design was entrusted to Saar Tzafrir, an Israeli designer who works mainly in the international arena. Among other things, he has signed on to design hotels in London, Amsterdam, Brussels and Berlin. Tzafrir took care to maintain the original design line, adding special items that refer to the historical past. For example, wooden fans adorn the ceilings and porcelain plates with examples of yesteryear displayed in shop windows.

Peace on the shores of the Sea of ​​Galilee.  Hemed corner at Gali Kinneret Hotel

Peace on the shores of the Sea of ​​Galilee. Cute corner at Gali Kinneret Hotel Photo: Rotem Bar Cohen

As in the old days, today the hotel also has a private beach with a boat available to guests, who can enjoy a cruise along the shores of the Sea of ​​Galilee, experience water skiing and more. The hotel pool is decorated with Roman motifs, reminiscent of Tiberias, the pool overlooks the Sea of ​​Galilee and the Golan Heights, and there is also an amazing spa that includes a huge Jacuzzi in front of the Sea of ​​Galilee, a dry and wet sauna, a gym and a unique treatment and massage center. In order for guests to enjoy a particularly relaxing holiday, it was decided to limit the accommodation to ages 16 and up.

The hotel pool overlooks the Sea of ​​Galilee

The hotel pool overlooks the Sea of ​​Galilee Photo: Rotem Bar Cohen

Gali Kinneret has 123 rooms in two adjacent buildings, which retain the original architectural concept, with the straight and minimalist lines. There are several types of rooms, including garden rooms with a huge Jacuzzi on the balcony, rooms with a balcony overlooking the Sea of ​​Galilee, suites and more. A special suite is the one named after Ben-Gurion, and although it is luxurious and comfortable, it also maintains the modernist and clean design line. One can almost imagine Paula chasing away the guests passing in the hallway near the room….

Room overlooking the Sea of ​​Galilee.  The design corresponds with the first days of the hotel

Room overlooking the Sea of ​​Galilee. The contemporary design corresponds with the first days of the hotel Photo: Amit Giron

Lotte, Assaf Granit’s new restaurant

Food, as is well known, is an integral part of the enjoyment of the holiday, and in this section Gali Kinneret is particularly outstanding. Assaf Granit opened his new restaurant here, Lotte, named after the founder, Lotte Eisenberg. The menu was built slowly and with deep thought for seven months before opening. Special attention was paid to everything, from the design of the plates and serving utensils to the open kitchen that allows diners to see the chef and cooks pass between the pots, taste, season and dish the dishes.

Kitchen open gland.  The diners share the energy that emanates from the kitchen

Kitchen open gland. The diners share the energy that emanates from the kitchen Photo: Rotem Bar Cohen

As with other Granite restaurants, whose Parisian restaurant, “Broken”, won a Michelin star in January 2021, Lotte also bridges the gap between Jerusalem, where the Mahniuda group’s first restaurants were born, and where the restaurant is located – in this case Tiberias. Before building the menu, an in-depth research was conducted on the Tiberian cuisine over the years, and so for example a dish called Maimonides was born – a celery root and confit celery stalks. The link to Jerusalem can be found in dishes like Kegel Cabbage which contains black pepper, goose fat, salted cashew cream and chicken stock.

A portion of fish from the Sea of ​​Galilee.  The menu emphasizes local flavors and Tiberian cooking

A portion of fish from the Sea of ​​Galilee. The menu highlights local flavors and Tiberian cooking Photo: Rotem Bar Cohen

The products that make up the dishes in the gland come from the Sea of ​​Galilee, the Galilee and the Golan Heights. For example, in the aging refrigerator, chunks of meat from the Golan Heights hang, and in the morning, cheeses from the Barkanit dairy in Kfar Yehezkel are served. The restaurant is kosher and is therefore closed on Saturdays. In the evenings, even outsiders can book a table, based on availability. Assaf Granit, together with chef Eliad Danon, make the meal at Lotte a happy and lively experience, no less than it is delicious, which makes the meal here a real celebration.

Chef Eliad Danon in action

Chef Eliad Danon in action Photo by Noam Frisman

• Gali Kinneret Hotel, 1 Elazar Kaplan Street, Tiberias. phone: 04-6707070, site. Accommodation from the age of 16 and up. Double room starting at NIS 1,215.

Opening photo: The view from the balcony of a room in Gali Kinneret, photo by Rotem Bar Cohen

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