The story goes that in 1909, 66 Jewish families, wanting to break away from their homes in the ancient port city of Jaffa, bought up a huge swathe of land to the north of Jaffa. The coastal strip was barren desert, sand dunes as far as the eye could see. The founding families that went on to create this new city, cast lots for the marked out land using sea shells and started work on the land that would soon evolve into the sprawling, fifty two kilometer Mediterranean metropolis that is modern day Tel Aviv.
Today, Tel Aviv feels part Miami, due to is 1930’s Bauhaus architecture and costal location. Part New York, due to its multicultural, buzzy, city that doesn’t sleep atmosphere. Some more spots feel like Havana in their crumbling glory. Whatever the city is… it is also permissive, surprising, friendly, civilized and welcoming and very, very cool.
A stay at the Vera Hotel will put you in the perfect place to discover all the different facets of this fascinatingly unique and different city. It’s located on the next street to the Rothschild boulevard a central and no more than a ten minute walk from the interesting hot spots of Neve Tzedek, Florentin and Lev Ha’Ir. Nowhere feels like it’s more than a short walk away and the city is very easy to get about on by foot, bike or even electric scooter.
Each of the hotels 39 rooms are decorated in the minimalist Manhattan loft style, with plastered walls, and concrete finishes. But the pared back aesthetic belies the comfort of the room with large walk in showers and super large, comfortable beds. There is a large, double level roof terrace with loungers and exotic planting that overlooks the city and is the perfect spot for sampling a glass of Israeli rose, offered complementary from their varied cellar of local wines. There is a small spa area offering world class, deep tissue massages among other treatments: the perfect antidote when your exploration of the city has left you weary and foot sore!
The buffet breakfast (eaten on the chic, flower scented outdoor patio) would surely be the a highlight of any stay at the Vera hotel. The counter top groans with everything you might expect from a classic breakfast array, but is made unique by the addition of local Israeli cheeses, breads, piles of roasted vegetables and not forgetting tahini with just about everything.
Culturally Tel Aviv is hard to beat, with World class art galleries and opera, theatre, contemporary dance, and film festivals. Even the ubiquitous graffiti has been taken to an art form here. And then there is the food scene. The beating heart of this city is surely the food. From tiny hole in the wall hummus spots served with pillowy flat breads served to the queuing masses to more gentrified, fine dining offerings in the Neve Tzedek area. The one constant is how delicious it all is. This cities food is as inclusive as its population, the carnivore catered for just as well as the vegan and don’t even get me started on the cocktails and nightlife. Just have a wander down Levinski street (a real hipster hotspot) on an evening and soak up the street party atmosphere and enjoy some top-notch people watching!
And then there is a the sea, while you are enjoying a wander through a gallery or shopping up a storm in the boutiques and markets, its easy to forget that you are never that far away from the Mediterranean. The beach scene is huge, particularly on Sundays; the skies above the the Gordon and Jerusalem beaches are filled with balls and as swathes of handsome locals hone their skills on the waters edge.
So to surmise, it might lack the splendor of Paris, the beauty of Venice, the history of Athens, but if you are looking for a beach holiday with a twist. A city on the sea, a brush with the unfamiliar and the exotic, might we recommend Tel Aviv? One thing is for sure, you will be made very welcome here.