There are hotels in the world in which you stay to see the city and area in which they are located, and then there are hotels in the world that are a destination in and of themselves. The Rimonim Galei Kinnereth is one of the latter. Despite all of the great tourist sites and striking, beautiful landscape of the Galilee and Golan regions of Israel, we never wanted to leave the hotel. That, of course, would have been crazy, as there is so much to see and do in the area, but it would be an equal mistake to come here and not leave yourself one day at the hotel when you don’t leave the grounds.
We (husband, wife, three-year old, and a baby) stayed here for three days and three nights in September 2010 right before the Sukkot holiday. We put a lot of thought into where we should stay in Tiberias, spending hours on TripAdvisor and other travel sites, as staying in nice, clean hotels is important to us, and there did not seem to be a lot to choose from if one is used to good solid four star American hotels like Hyatts and Westins and occasionally stays in REAL 5 star hotels (the term is overused) like Peninsulas, Four Seasons and Ritzes.
Smaller than the large, tour-bus centric alternatives in Tiberias, the Rimonim has a boutique vibe with a feel that reminds one of a cross of Key West Caribbean and Middle Eastern exotic with the class of an earlier era. The lobby is warm and inviting with plenty of comfortable couches, leather chairs and seating areas. It is a great place to sit with a coffee in the morning, a glass of wine in the afternoon or a beer at night. It overlooks the beautifully landscaped garden, pool and patio area, which in turn overlooks the Sea of Galilee. The view is amazing.
The pool is a nice size. Not too big, but more than adequate for the size of the hotel and the number of guests. The kiddie pool, connected to the main pool at the north end, is one of the nicest kids’ areas we’ve seen, sufficiently close to be in the same area, but tastefully divided from the adults. A large canopy covers half the pool so that the one can enjoy the water even during the middle of the day when the blazing sun bakes Tiberius with stifling heat and strong rays.
The green lawns surrounding the pool area were full of hammocks, swings and lounge beds and varied areas from which to relax and look out at the Galilee and Golan mountains. Right next to the pool is a staffed kids play room filled with a plastic ball pit, arts and crafts, and toys in which our young children happily spent at least two hours each day.
The spa area, free to all guests, includes saunas and a hot-tub as well as a decent gym – a couple of treadmills, bikes, a Universal-type weight machine, and some free-weights. We used the gym, and appreciate the full-time trainer on-staff that helps everyone with their workout. The spa itself is lovely, with a full gamut of treatments at reasonable prices. We received an exceptional reflexology treatment.
But the best part of the Rimonim Galei Kinnereth is the food. If you book this hotel in Israel, it is almost impossible to get a reservation that does not include half-board (which means that breakfast and dinner are included). As an American or booking through some of the American travel websites (hotels.com, Orbitz, etc.) you are often given the option of either half-board or only having breakfast included. MAKE SURE YOU CHOOSE HALF-BOARD. Missing dinner at the Rimonim would be a big mistake. The $65 more per night per couple was more than worth it; it was a bargain.
The quality and variety of the selections were of the highest level – fish, chicken and beef dishes, rices, salads, exotic vegetables, deserts. Everything was good (and kosher too, if that’s important to you). After the first night we were looking forward to dinner number two, expecting the same line-up. Except for the salad bar, everything was new and different. In the three nights we were there, despite the plethora of choices, they didn’t once repeat the same dish. Breakfast was equally good. We concur with some of the other reviews that the food here is as good as you will find anywhere.
Finally the rooms. They were fine. They were clean. They could be better. They all have a beautiful view of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). Prior reviewers have commented that there is a difference between the rooms in the newer “tower” and the older “spa area”. While there may have been at one time, there doesn’t seem to be so now. We requested to look at rooms in both locations, and they have all been renovated to the same standard.
Our room in the spa area was large, fitting a “king” bed (two twins pushed together) and a double sized couch that opened into a sleep-sofa futon. The bathroom was small, but clean. There was a large terrace overlooking the lake. True, everything’s been renovated from 1940. But it is time to be renovated again. Like some of the more critical reviews, we can confirm that the sheets and towels, and mattress and furnishings, while adequate, are below par. They could use new carpets too. For a hotel that is otherwise first rate in all respects, the rooms, while clean, are not what you would expect from a hotel of this caliber. We almost labeled this review: "Very good hotel, could be great." An upgrade of the rooms, towels and sheets, mattresses and carpets would catapult this hotel into the truly great category.
As an aside, we also spent some time at the Leonardo Plaza next door (as we were travelling with family that chose to stay there as it was a little less expensive). The rooms there were nicer, furnished with mattresses, sheets and towels at an American standard. From a room point-of-view, we would recommend that hotel too. However, the Leonardo is a tourist factory – geared towards the tour buses. While not immune to the tour-busses that are the lifeblood of many a Tiberias hotel, the crowd at the Rimonim was definitely more local and more upscale than that of the bulk of the Tiberias hotel scene.
So despite the slightly disappointing rooms, in our opinion the Rimonim Galei Kinnereth is the place to stay in Tiberias. It is a hotel where memories are made.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Facing the Golan Heights, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, The Rimonim Galei Kinnereth Luxury hotel combines pampering vacation and well being with a unique location and private beach. Spa facilities include well equipped spa with 13 varied treatment rooms, mineral water pool with jet water streams, saunas and gym. Also available dining room, lobby, outdoor pool, private beach, pool snack bar. The hotel offers many attractions, active vacations and water sports. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Rimonim Galei Kinnereth Tiberias