I try to visit Tel Aviv regularly but unfortunately, I hadn’t been for quite some time. No further delay as it was high time for an update because the city has undergone something of a metamorphosis.
The old and sometimes run-down 1920s and ‘30s Bauhaus architecture and other historic buildings are being transformed into beautiful places with fresh pastel shades or entirely in white. They are often taken over by boutique hotels with inspiring interiors.
Some of my tried and tested hotspots are no more but a few have remained and are better than ever.
On top of that, much, much more has been added to the city.
Here is my new list:
The famous Rothschild 12 Café has had to make space for what will, after a few years of thorough renovating, become the Ritz Carlton hotel. No need to be melancholic, however, they have now moved to Herzl 16 under its new name.
Here you find the same vibe and the crème de la crème of hip and happening Tel Avivians. Also on the same location, I found Disco Tokyo. The name perhaps raises suspicions of factory-style sushi, but nothing could be less true.
It serves delicious Japanese cuisine. Also at Herzl 16, Nununu Dirty Dining is the most talked-about street food spot at the moment.
The chef has personally designed their signature sandwich. It looks like a brioche, but lighter, enriched with a butter sauce and stuffed and topped with all sorts of things. The Mac & Cheese is the most popular variant, but my eyes naturally fell on the Amsterdam Roll with herring, red onions, and sour cream.
In the little hours of the night, I found myself back at Herzl 16 for a concert by a swinging local band. The bar was filled to the brim, and that on a Monday evening. Tel Aviv comes alive every single day.
Tel Aviv is justifiably proud of being a welcoming destination for the LGBTQ+ community. Luckily, my favorite bar Shpagat has remained throughout the city’s transformation.
It has been redecorated since my last visit to expand its doors to even more lovely people and with an all-new shop front, neon-lit rainbows naturally included.
Every Saturday night, Brown Urban Hotel hosts a straight-friendly networking event for people over 30.
During the Summer months, you’ll find them up on the roof and in the Winter in the garden in the back. This weekly party is called “Skyline” and it’s really the place to be!
The accessible gay beach is just by the Hilton Hotel, easily found by looking for the rainbow colors.
Hoteliers in Israel, like my good friend Leon Avigad of Brown Hotels, are raising the bar worldwide for the development of boutique hotels. Here are a few of his new gems I visited in Tel Aviv:
The Poli House
An iconic 1930s Bauhaus building transformed into an interesting and exciting design hotel. It reflects the diversity of Tel Aviv with its eccentric and eclectic sides really well, thanks in part to architect Karim Rashid.
Street art has been brought inside and on the roof, you find a spa, pool, and bar.
The other recent developments by Brown Hotels are The Lighthouse and The Townhouse.
Different hotels in diverse price ranges, but all equally unique. The Vera, Fabric, and Lily & Bloom.
In August of 2018, The Jaffa – a Luxury Collection Hotel – opened its doors after years of renovations, excavations, and construction work. This is a 5-star hotel in a restored 19th Century compound that once served as the French hospital in Jaffa.
Under the watchful eyes of the Vatican and local bishops, the chapel has been “de-churched” and now serves as a bar.
The luxury of this hotel connects the centuries-old history of this place and the port town of Jaffa with modern art and architecture.
Want to stay in luxury but prefer to be closer to the center of Tel Aviv? The Norman is a luxury boutique hotel perfectly situated next to Rothschild Boulevard.
Food and Drink
Tel Aviv is bursting at the seams with restaurants and bars. A Valhalla for foodies.
It’s generally not very cheap so whenever I want to enjoy a night of good food but stay on a budget I go to Pasta Basta next to the bustling Carmel market. I choose my own pasta, the sauce, and vegetables. All that for a tenner. I’m grateful they are still here, I’ve been coming for years.
Another old favorite of mine is Port Saïd. It’s still hard, after all these years, to get a table but it is always worth the wait. Hip guests and dishes that make you want to lick your fingers afterward. There’s a truly bustling atmosphere on the terrace right next to the synagogue.
Romano is Port Saïd’s new sister. Situated on the second floor of the Romano House, a historic building in the Southern part of Tel Aviv, this place creates exactly the right atmosphere for another magical spot that combines music and food.
The menu changes daily, based on seasonal, fresh and local vegetables and seafood. The chefs, but also the DJs and their ‘vinyl’ record collections, make Romano a special place to dine and drink from the early evening into the night.
And don’t forget about Herzl 16.
Brown Urban Hotel has a popular rooftop bar and its sisters, the Poli House and the Lighthouse, now also provide the newest hotspots in the sky. The Poli House Rooftop even has a swimming pool and the bar is a relaxed hangout to rest for a bit, right in the middle of the lively but admittedly hectic neighborhood around the Carmel market.
On the 18th floor, atop the Lighthouse hotel, you are immediately embraced by the luxurious environment of the Haiku Sky Bar offering ample opportunity to enjoy the view. They open from 8 in the afternoon and getting a reservation in advance appears to be a golden tip.
The Morning After
After these long nights, a good cup of coffee the next day is indispensable. Luckily, I discovered Mazeh Coffee.
Opened in 2019 by friendly brothers who go through life as excellent baristas.
Need a little more than coffee? Fortunately, the most famous breakfast restaurant, Benedict, is still right on Rothschild Boulevard.
Tel Aviv offers the ultimate combination between city and beach life, all within walking or rental bike distance. Hilton Bay Beach has also been entirely renewed, boasting good food and a great spot to enjoy the sunset at the end of a sunny day – hanging around just a little longer for that last bottle of wine, a beer or a cocktail.
Banana Beach is a little closer to the center and also a fine spot to enjoy the sun, sea, and beach.
Tel Aviv and Jaffa, together, form a bustling city and are both in full motion.
Discover it for yourself!
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