Katie Drummond, The Daily Telegraph, September 10, 2013
An ancient city with a complex and fascinating history, Jerusalem is also vibrant and modern, with stylish local designers and wonderful regional cooking.
Mamilla is the smartest boutique hotel in Jerusalem, and it’s just a short stroll from the Old City. The fabulous breakfast buffet will set you up well for a day of historical exploration. From £250; mamillahotel.com
The pretty village of Ein Karem, about 20 minutes from town, is a wonderful retreat. The seven-room Alegra is chic and romantic. From £250; hotelalegra.co.il
Racha serves traditional Georgian dishes (which means walnuts in everything) in an edgy gothic setting. A klezmer band blasts bewitching tunes while diners swig spirits from ram’s horns. racha.rest-e.co.il
Hip Israelis eat at Machneyuda, named after Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda food market (itself worth a visit). Menus change regularly, but if it’s available try the tuna carpaccio with apple and fig. machneyuda.co.il
The best fashion is on Bezalel and Shatz Streets. Visit Sofia for stylish pieces by local designers, and Adi Kilav for quirky shoes and bags. Kedem Sasson, around the corner on King George Street, is the big name in draped, asymmetric jersey. kedem-sasson.com
The Jerusalem Center of Design (7 Bezalel Street) offers studio space for 20 young artists to sell their work directly to the public. The beautiful ceramics, jewellery, leather and metalwork make lovely, affordable presents.
Visit the world’s greatest natural beauty parlour, the Dead Sea, an hour away from Jerusalem across the Judean desert. In the village of Ein Bokek you can bob about in the super-salty, bath-hot seawater, then cross the road to the Isrotel for a mud-based treatment. From £45; isrotel.com
The list of historical and religious attractions is endless: the site of the Crucifixion, the Via Dolorosa (thought to be the route Jesus walked with the cross), the al-Aqsa mosque, the Wailing Wall, and so on. A good place to start is the museum at the Tower of David, which provides an excellent overview. towerofdavid.org.il
Set aside several hours for the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum: it is riveting and shattering. yadvashem.org
Fly with El Al flies to Israel from Heathrow and Luton, from £360 return ( elal.co.uk )