These properties in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and other stops around Israel are shaping the country’s new reputation as a luxury destination.
Located just fifteen minutes north of Tel Aviv, Herzilyza is Israel’s poshest city. The Ritz Carlton Herzilya overlooks the Mediterranean Sea, the marina and an uncrowded white sand beach. You can expect soothing and elegant sea-inspired palettes in the 197 luxurious rooms and suites. The rooftop pool is pretty wonderful, too. The hotel is just 25 minutes from the Caesarea Golf Course, Israel’s first 18-hole course. Meanwhile, flawless service by a staff largely trained abroad helped paved the way for a new kind of luxury hotel experience in Israel.
The Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem is just a minute’s walk from the Jaffa Gate to the Old City, and the more present-minded outdoor Alrov Mamilla Mall. The hotel is on the former site of the legendary Palace Hotel. Its sumptuous Ottoman architecture exterior is replicated in design details on the inside such as chic brass lamps and archways. The show stopper is the huge lobby atrium with its retractable roof. You can’t miss it.
The Setai Tel Aviv, in the historic Jaffa neighborhood, is housed within one of Israel’s most important historical buildings. Known as the Kishle, it was a 12th century Crusader fortress and coveted asset of the Napoleonic, Byzantine and Ottoman empires. A painstaking restoration process transformed the building into its new incarnation. Those familiar with the Setai Miami will know that design is a key feature. The Turkish-inspired interiors were designed by ARA Design and feature hand-woven Turkish rugs to step onto in the morning.
The Setai Tel Aviv is not the only historic building in Jaffa to be meticulously restored and repurposed as a luxury hotel. The just opened The Jaffa is a mixed-use hotel and residence built from the restored remains of an Ottoman-era French hospice. Arched ceilings, beautiful stucco work, original stained glass, and fragments of stonework dating back to the 12th century are now mixed with the ultra-contemporary, curated design. The restoration lasted almost a decade, and the Jaffa opened this fall. The Jaffa is part of Marriott’s luxury brand The Luxury Collection.
The Efendi Hotel, a 12-room luxury property, is accessed through the picturesque alleyways of Old Akko. The hotel is the passion project of Uri Jeremias, owner of Uri Buri, a legendary fish restaurant often considered the best in Israel. His restoration of an 1860 palace near the port took eight years (and six interior designers). The decor is hip Ottoman chic, with colorful low seating and ornate decorated ceilings in an otherwise minimal vibe. Guests tan themselves on the roof top terrace, while the muezzin’s call to prayer at the neighboring mosque sounds.
Zichron Ya’akov, a village in Israel’s Carmel valley, some 60 kilometers up the coastline from Tel Aviv, was founded by Baron Rothschild in the 19th century. It would not look out of place in Provence, with its rolling hills, boutique wineries, cafes, and small galleries. The Elma Luxury Resort and Arts Complex has added even more luster to the area. The Elma is a modernist architecture icon, an accordion-shaped building designed in the 1960s by Israel-prize winning architect Yaacov Rechter. Later abandoned and on the verge of demolition, the building was rescued by a philanthropist and art collector. Now it houses valuable art works and one of Israel’s most cutting-edge concert halls. Art and luxury meet in this wonderful place.
This hotel is a pastoral cousin to the Setai Jaffa. Here’s a spa-resort situated on the eastern shore of the historic Sea of Galilee, set amidst the verdant vistas of Northern Israel. The hotel features 157 villas and suites including 47 new standalone “Kinneret Villas,” each with a private garden and an infinity pool, while standard suites offer exquisite views of the hotel’s lush gardens. Surrounded by archaeological ruins and nature reserves, and mere steps from the biblical body of water, The Setai Sea of Galilee is the perfect perch for exploring Northern Israel’s many natural marvels. ■