Room at the inn

Suraida Nasser & her grandfather

A word of congratulation for the wonderful Fauzi Azar Inn, a guesthouse in the Old City of Nazareth, in northern Israel.

Already lauded by every guidebook out there (Lonely Planet author pick: “One of the highlights of a stay in the region.” Bradt: “By far the best midrange option in town.” Jesus Trail: “The perfect base…Best budget accommodation in the region.” Frommers: “Lots of atmosphere…friendly and personal” etc etc) – this week the Fauzi added a major new award to its trophy cabinet.

It was named global winner of the ‘Best Accommodation for Local Communities’ at the Virgin Holidays Responsible Tourism Awards 2011, held during the annual World Travel Market trade event in London.

Can’t tell you how delighted I am for Suraida Nasser, Maoz Inon and everyone associated with the Fauzi. I’ve been there twice, most recently only a few weeks ago, researching a story for Britain’s Wanderlust magazine. It’s a truly inspiring place to stay.

And the story of how the inn came into being is a model example of how this kind of carefully thought-through, low-key, grassroots, community-focused tourism initiative can transform an entire city – not just shape the image of a place, but actually inject money into the local economy, refocus businesses citywide, drive growth and create jobs far beyond the limits of its own four walls.

As for responsible tourism, well, just take a look.

There’s a couple of other reasons to visit Nazareth, true – but the Fauzi brings it all together. Book well ahead to make sure you get a room at this particular inn.

Disclosure: nobody has paid me a penny to write this post. All from the heart.

UPDATE: Soon after posting, I found this nice little short video made by vlogger Daniel Baylis during his stay at the Fauzi in September (2011). Credit to him. Enjoy: