Attention to detail: Waldorf Astoria Head Chef Itzik Barak with Chef JJ
Attention to detail: Waldorf Astoria Head Chef Itzik Barak with Chef JJSarka Babicka

Set in an old building full of character and history in the center of bustling Jerusalem, the Waldorf Astoria is worlds apart from any of its surrounding competitors. As the only international hotel in Jerusalem proudly holding the name and reputation of the Waldorf Astoria brand, this hotel certainly does not disappoint.

Guy Klaiman, General Manager at the Waldorf Astoria, spent some time with Arutz Sheva Food and Lifestyle to discuss how and why the Waldorf Astoria, Jerusalem, has gained its stellar reputation and in turn won the Conde Nast Travellers Award for the 7th best Middle East hotel for 2015. This is in addition to the First Place award for excellence in human resources for 2015.

This comes as no surprise to anyone who has visited or stayed at the hotel. With an average visit of five days and the smallest rooms available considerably bigger then the largest rooms of its competitors, you may think the luxury stay is what won the hotel it’s prestigious awards. But your Waldorf experience starts a while before entering the doors to its lavish and stylish lobby - it starts with contact from the personal concierge service two weeks before your visit. The staff at the Waldorf want to do whatever they can to ensure your stay is perfect. You want red apples and not green? Synthetic pillows and not feather? No problem, it’ll be ready when you arrive as long as you leave your email address with your booking.

This young hotel has fought hard to be put on the international luxury hotel map. It feels a responsibility to alter the service reputation in Israel and constantly strives to be better. Klaiman, born in Israel, said he always preferred to be a “small fish in a big sea,” and since joining the Hilton brand he has worked his way from the bottom up, specializing in food and beverage, gaining inspiration from his global placements during his 27 years with the Hilton brand, and is keen to make his mark as the hotel that proved that Israelis can open luxury hotels with luxury service in Israel.

Guy’s background in food and beverage means that the food served at the Waldorf is exemplary. They have the most successful restaurant in Jerusalem’s hotel industry, largely due to the fact that it is not typical to a hotel restaurant. It is a fine dining restaurant and not a dining room; everything is fresh and personalized - there’s no buffet queuing in the Waldorf! The reputation the Waldorf has gained for its delicious food means that the restaurant serves at least 80 covers a night, mostly people who are not guests at the hotel. It has become a destination in and of itself. This is largely thanks to the executive chef, Yitzchak "Itzik" Mizrachi Barak.

Chef Itzik Barak combines traditional Israeli cuisine with a luxury global culinary experience to create a modern Middle Eastern menu at Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem's two restaurants. In fact, Barak is being flown to the final of a “Taste of Waldorf Astoria” competition taking place in February, to enter his kosher dish as one of 5 finalists out of the original 27 contestants.

This is why the Waldorf is so successful. Every member of staff is specially selected to contribute the best they have to offer to their department.

Klaiman climbed his way up from the bottom and is therefore familiar with the intricacies involved in a every department. He is very much in touch with his staff and is there to ensure that every guest at the Waldorf enjoys a stay which more than justifies its status as Best Hotel in the Middle East in 2015.