With its panoramic views of Jerusalem, cushiony seating area and decorative elements, this could be almost any other room at the Inbal Jerusalem Hotel. Except the floor is made of AstroTurf, the walls are made of transparent cloth and the roof is a bamboo mat.
Welcome to one of a dozen private sukkahs built on the porches of the five-star hotel’s Penthouse Suites.
These hotel sukkahs represent the vanguard of holiday hotel luxury in Jerusalem. The sukkah suites carry a price tag of approximately $50,000 for a family of four for the eight-day holiday, including three meals a day. The seating area in the 430-square-foot sukkah includes a wide red couch, two matching armchairs and a glass coffee table with a polished wood frame. There’s also a dining area and walls decorated with faux grapes hanging from a wooden weave.
All 12 private sukkah suites on offer at the Inbal are already booked for the holiday.
Like most hotels in Israel, the Inbal also builds two huge sukkahs for the regular folks: huts that together can accommodate 600 guests at mealtime. But those who can afford a more intimate experience need not leave their penthouses during the holiday.
Waiters serve hot meals from a kitchen set up on an annex on the top floor. Guests dine with sterling silverware on a starched, white tablecloth. When the meal is over, waiters clean the table and bring in cots for guests who want to sleep in the sukkah at night.
Most Jews who build their own sukkahs start thinking about design and decoration a few days before the holiday, if that. At the Inbal, sukkah design began three months ago. Guests chose the color schemes and layout of their personal sukkahs: Some are green with roll-up windows, others red with a clear plastic window all around. The fake fruit design changes accordingly.
The whole enterprise costs the hotel around $100,000, including dozens of extra staff for the penthouse floor, according to Alex Herman, Inbal’s vice president of sales and marketing.
“It’s having people sitting here with a lot of demands,” he said. “They’re expecting a lot. It’s a long stay. I’ve learned to live without sleeping.”