In the land of milk and honey, there is no doubt that Tel Aviv is one of the sweetest destinations. Progressive in spirit and alive with Mediterranean vivacity, Israel’s coastal city buzzes with a creative, relaxed energy—with plenty of room for R&R. The city has been invigorated in part by UNESCO’s 2003 designation of Tel Aviv’s White City as a World Heritage Site—the area has the largest concentration of Bauhaus-style architecture in the world, a result of Jewish-German architects who, after seeking refuge in the early 19th century, brought their designs to the desert terrain. Tel Aviv’s historic architecture is the bedrock for smaller accommodations that have popped up over the past decade. Here, a look at five darling boutique hotels in Tel Aviv.
The Poli House
The fact that guests of the Poli House receive complimentary tickets to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art during their stay hints at this hotel’s character. Originally built in the heart of the city in 1934, the Bauhaus beauty was reimagined by Israeli architect Nitza Szmuk (renowned for her work in preserving the White City) and Egyptian-born, Canadian-raised designer Karim Rashid just a few years ago. Funky, futuristic design elements include egg-shaped chairs in the lobby with hot-pink cushions, electric pink stools at the rooftop infinity pool, and pops of yellows and turquoise throughout the white-walled rooms.
The Norman Tel Aviv doubles down on history; guest rooms and suites are split between two Bauhaus buildings near the popular Rothschild Boulevard. Restored by Israeli architect Yoav Messer, the 1920s buildings are now elegantly conjoined, and surrounded by a citrus orchard. Of all the hotels noted here, the Norman has the most gravitas with a contemporary art collection, an ongoing series of cultural performances, and three fine dining options. At the recently opened Alena, chef Barak Aharoni lends local flavour to French and Italian cuisine for dishes like charred aubergine and ricotta tortellini with za’atar. Sophisticated and stylish, this Bauhaus institution is the place to be seen in Tel Aviv.
Just around the corner from the Norman, Hotel Montefiore is an elegant and intimate 12-key hotel. At the time of Tel Aviv’s turn of the century founding, long before Bauhaus flourished, the Eclectic style reigned (a little bit European, and a touch Oriental). Hotel Montefiore is an original in two key ways: it’s located inside a restored Eclectic-style 1922 residence, and when it opened in 2008, it was Tel Aviv’s first boutique hotel. Paving the way for others to follow, the property has a dozen rooms in mostly neutral palettes, anchored with dark wood furnishing, black marble bathrooms, and leather armchairs. In a nod to Tel Aviv’s storied history, each room—the best of which come with fringed balconies—features a well-stocked library.
The Setai, Tel Aviv
Jaffa, a southern stretch of Tel Aviv (and an ancient port city so old, it’s even referenced in the Bible), was once a neglected area, full of timeworn, Ottoman-era architecture. Now, after decades of investments, key landmarks have been restored—along with the bustle. The Setai, Tel Aviv is perhaps the most monolithic rebirth. Following more than a decade of reconstruction, the former 12th-century fortress is now a contemporary 120-room retreat. Restored cobblestone corridors and vaulted ceilings recall the hotel’s rich heritage, while a hammam spa and rooftop infinity pool satisfy modern comforts.
The Dave – West
Not even a year old, The Dave – West shows its age in all the right ways—the boutique is, in fact, the first iteration of a new line of hotels designed for young travellers. Low-cost but high-style, it’s a stone’s throw from the sea on a block bursting with Bauhaus gems. Taking design cues from the 1970s, the lobby walls are a deep crimson, faux animal skin rugs are used as decor, and it’s all stocked with stylish wall-to-floor vintage swagger. The bulk of 35 rooms are hip with retro touches (from green and orange rotary phones to old-school radios), while the rooftop features a jacuzzi tub.
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