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Tel Aviv Trilogy | To Stay: Luxurious Hotels | ICONIC LIFE

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Tel Aviv Trilogy | To Stay: Luxurious Hotels

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These Luxurious Hotels in Tel Aviv Merge History and Modernity.

From boutique accommodations tucked away in leafy, residential Bauhaus neighborhoods, high-rise chain hotels basking in the sun along Tel Aviv’s 4.3 mile ICONIC waterfront promenade, and new luxurious hotel properties sprouting up throughout Tel Aviv, from the over 500 options to choose from here’s three superb, uniquely varied, places to stay.

The David Kempinski – A League of Its Own 

For decades a sea-view room in Tel Aviv meant checking into one of the lackluster chain hotels hogging the seafront. However, this luxurious Tel Aviv hotel opened in 2022, the David Kempinski Hotel is a shimmering, modernist steel and glass hotel with 250 rooms and suites. The David Kempinski  reigns supreme over its jejune neighbors.

As soon as I walked through the door  a Lady in Red—one of Kempinski’s ICONIC concierges—introduces herself and tells me not to hesitate to ask if I need anything. Ushered into a glass elevator, we whoosh skyward as the sweeping view of Tel Aviv spreads below and then halts at the 22nd floor. The luxury Tel Aviv hotel has a horizon lounge with private check-in reserved for Signature Suite guests. The view of the Mediterranean from the terrace is breathtaking; from far below I hear the distinctive tok-tok of wooden paddles whacking the balls of the quintessentially Israeli beach game of matkot.

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My corner suite—styled in pewter blues, creams and rich wood, with a bedroom that ingeniously closes off from the salon with sliding corner pocket doors—is all a traveler could ask for. The luxury Tel Aviv hotel goes above and beyond with presentation, wine, chocolates, an array of pastel macaroons and a myriad of treats await my indulgence. The most alluring feature—indeed throughout the Kempinski—is the drama of floor-to-ceiling French balconies seamlessly merging sky and sea into the room. 

If you’re impressed with my accommodation, there’s even more to aspire to at the David Kempinski.  On the 34th floor, and arguably the epitome of luxury in a Tel Aviv hotel,  is the David Penthouse Suite, a three-floor aerie sanctuary boasting of over 6000 sq. ft. of indoor and outdoor living space, highlighted with a bedazzling 32-foot infinity pool. There’s two master bedrooms, two living rooms, a dining room, a dry sauna with a sea view, and even a grand piano; the Lady in Red can hire a pianist for your private soiree and there is a private butler at your beck and call. 

The view of the Mediterranean from the terrace is breathtaking; from far below I hear the distinctive tok-tok of wooden paddles whacking the balls of the quintessentially Israeli beach game of matkot.

My biggest pleasure at a fine hotel is indulging myself with The New York Times over breakfast consumed at a leisurely pace. In the sun-dappled bistro of Sereia I am shown what this luxurious Tel Aviv hotel has to offer. Sereia is one of the hotel’s two kosher restaurants. I start with fresh beet and carrot juice followed by berries with yogurt. I then indulge in boulangerie breads and pastries with smears of honey served oozing from the comb. The pace picks up with chopped Israeli salad, tabbouleh, cheeses, olive and walnut breads, shakshuka (eggs in spicy tomato sauce) and three types of salmon. Though I’m stuffed, the halvah crème brulee still beckons me. 

Often, luxury hotel guests seem ensconced in their bubble of family, wedding or business, but here at the luxurious  David Kempinski Tel Aviv hotel, guests seem friendlier and chattier; I had no problem striking a conversation with a couple visiting from Australia. The staff and service of  The David Kempinski is unparalleled. When my niece arrived for lunch and a dip in the pool, the Lady in Red appeared and presented my delighted grandniece with a lovely stuffed toy.

The Norman — Heart of Old Tel Aviv

Arguably the city’s most sophisticated and luxurious Tel Aviv  boutique property, The Norman plays homage to Tel Aviv’s 1920’s style and opulence. The facade retains the original Art Deco detailing as if plucked out of Miami’s South Beach. The bright and airy interior design was dreamed up by David d’Almada of Sagrada—the firm behind Coya Restaurant in Riyadh and The Arts Club in London—to update and enhance the original heritage building. Vintage furniture thrifted from around the world vie for attention alongside sleek, custom-made settees and chairs. The avant-garde contemporary paintings, sculptures and photos by Israeli artists displayed throughout the luxury Tel Aviv hotel are all for sale. 

The properties namesake, Norman Lourie, was a larger-than-life British war correspondent who established Palestine Films Company, which produces features, documentaries, newsreels and was the principal distribution agency for Hollywood films. Since its opening in 2014, the Norman is the well-deserved recipient of numerous awards, including ‘best boutique hotel in the world’ from Jetsetter magazine, ranked in Elle’s “top 10 best decorated restaurants in Europe” and Condé Nast Travelers’ gold list of the best hotels in the world. 

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My room, themed in creams and pale blues, is in the heritage building. It includes thirty individually designed rooms. In the adjacent modern building are twenty suites and a Penthouse Duplex, which is  ideal for families where, once the kids are tucked in bed, you can enjoy a glass of Cabernet in a Jacuzzi with a view of the Mediterranean. (One room and one suite are adapted for guests with mobility challenges).  My room has smart control systems, a Nespresso machine, fresh flowers, Frette 300 thread count cotton sateen bedding, rainforest showers and plush Turkish towels. The rooms do not fail to highlight the luxury that Tel Aviv hotels have to offer.

In the evening, I take in the sunset from The Norman’s rooftop infinity pool with a 360-degree view of Tel Aviv’s skyline. Later I dine at the in-house Alena, a restaurant that is popular among the locals. Alena is an unpretentious eatery that was revamped after the COVID-19 lock downs by chef duo and lifelong friends Omer Shadmi Muller and Daniel Zur. The Tel Aviv hotel restaurant combines luxury and  Mediterranean cuisine with tastes from their home Galilean region and offers all-day dining. The signature Alena aubergine pizza is one of the most popular dishes on the menu.

The Jaffa – Past and Present Merge in Elegance

It’s not often you can lay down your head to sleep within the perimeters of a former crusader castle. a curving section of 13th-century ramparts jut up through the floor of luxury Tel Aviv hotel. The Jaffa’s otherwise thoroughly modern lobby. The Herculean task of transforming this neo-Renaissance, 19th-century French pilgrim hospital into a luxury hotel was bestowed upon local architect and conservationist Ramy Gill and the cutting-edge, minimalist British designer John Pawson—creator of the brilliant Novy Dvur Cistercian Monastery in Bohemia. The two worked together to craft a luxurious hotel in Tel Aviv that is adorned by many. The impeccable interiors are a clever melding of the historic—stone colonnades, a ferny grotto under a Crusader arch, and Arabesque trellises, with mid-century touches— Shiro Kuramata chairs upholstered in plush apricot and wine velvet. Several theatrical Damien Hirst spin paintings add a pop to the marble walls. Mere words can’t do it all justice, but the daring design miraculously pulls together to create a cloister-like, liminal space suspended in time and space. 

Both the historic and contemporary wings boast of high ceilings and tall windows. In my top floor room, I’m pleasantly surprised to open the blinds to the splendid view of the rooftops of  ancient Jaffa spilling down to the sea. A church steeple rises from a stand of trees and two boats sail across the 4000-year-old Biblical port. The location helps marry the rich history of Tel Aviv with the luxury of the hotel. The room is stylishly minimalist with a “floating” bed, accented with a settee by French designer Pierre Paulin. A single photo of a blossoming tree by Israeli artist Tal Shochat is showcased above the bed. A bedside panel controls the blinds, lights and air-conditioning, with the television integrated into the floor-to-ceiling mirror. The shower made of Travertine marble is big enough to throw a party in; alas it’s just me. All rooms feature capsule coffee machines and a stocked minibar.

After my mandatory daily nap, I head to the courtyard pool with neatly lined loungers and umbrellas. The attendants are friendly and manage to anticipate my need for water and cocktail refills. Secreted away in the depths of the hotel far from the hubbub is an expansive spa and a modest gym, which I took advantage of on my second day.

Breakfast buffet is served at the Italian Don Camillo restaurant.  The glass doors open onto the lush patio courtyard with espaliered lemon and orange trees. This luxurious Tel Aviv hotel’s breakfast selection is overwhelming, so I hone in on the tried and true: a bowl of fruit topped with Greek yogurt, slices of salmon with capers and mini-pickles. For a change, I ordered the veggie omelet from the a la carte menu. In stark contrast to the hotel’s Middle East ambiance, The Jaffa’s Golda’s Deli is incongruously soulful Brooklyn, serving up Big Apple staples like bagels and lox, tuna melts and double decker sandwiches.

One of the congenial staff leads the way across the courtyard, up the stairs and along the colonnade to a massive wooden door opening into the choir of a Neo-gothic church. Jaffa’s pièce de resistance, the Chapel, had once been exactly that; a place of worship. Sunlight streams through the leaded windows illuminating the gorgeous blush of faded turquoise walls and where the altar was, is now a cocktail bar. Until recently you could plunk yourself down in one of the Cini Boeri Botolo chairs and sip cocktails into the wee hours, but unfortunately now, the Chapel is only booked for special events.

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