Hotelier Leon Avigad has dusted off a 19th-century villa in the Russian Compound district of Jerusalem to transform it into Villa Brown. Unlike his Tel Aviv properties, this one does not tap into the 1970s disco or Miami Beach vibe, but instead takes its cues from the late Ottoman Empire period, a cultural pinnacle of Jerusalem, and its former owner, a storied doctor at the Rothschild Hospital, whose own soirées were legendary.
Local architects Galit Shifman Bar-Natan and Michal Cohen Magen have quietly restored the villa, adding two new floors, including a rooftop terrace that looks onto the neighbouring Ethiopian Church. The building’s golden Jerusalem stone, that gives the city its visual harmony, is a striking background for the subtle Ottoman décor; the front desk is a prayer stand from Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox Mea Shearim neighbourhood, ornate golden trays are from the Muslim quarter in East Jerusalem, while the 24 guestrooms are done up in jewel-coloured velvet textiles
The Cave Bar has been dug out of the villa’s old well and an arched courtyard, overlooking the hills of Jerusalem is the perfect spot for high tea.