A room with a heart
beaches. Locals have their favourite eateries, often small, unpretentious neighbourhood bars which serve as a kind of kitchen extension, summer and winter, and sometimes don’t even run to a name. The sheer choice of Tel Aviv restaurants is sometimes overwhelming, from fantastic Italian cooking (and, let it be said, at about a third of current Italian prices), to wonderful fish — especially in north Tel Aviv, in the newly gentrified Port, and in Old Jaffa — and, of course, exceptional meat.
Kosher tourists might like to try a different sort of dining at Pasha, a Turkish restaurant with a sister outlet in Jerusalem, in Rehov Ha’arba’a, just off Ibn Gvirol. The delicately spiced food ensures a consistent clientele with plenty of fans. Make sure to book.
Also very popular, though not supervised (although its meat is kosher), is A Place To Meat in Shabazi Street, in the renovated southern neighbourhood of Neve Tzedek. One of the first residential neighbourhoods of modern Tel Aviv, Neve Tzedek is a rabbit warren of winding streets in which boutiques and bistros jostle for space. At the heart of the area is the Suzanne Dellal arts centre, whose restaurant, Bellini, has been delighting customers for 15 years (but be warned, it is not kosher.)
Hard-core Tel Aviv visitors may discover a flourishing new series of hotels in the city which are attracting tourists from the UK for the first time. Just steps from the beach on Ben-Yehuda Street is the Art + Hotel, with 62 rooms and breakfast served in the library.
For somewhere different to stay — especially, perhaps, during the winter months, when the beach is not sending out siren calls — try the Sheraton City Tower, on the edge of Tel Aviv and Ramat Gan. It’s just near the Diamond Exchange and was built 10 years ago specifically as a business hotel.
For anyone attending football matches at the Ramat Gan Stadium — or even concerts; this is where Leonard Cohen played — the City Tower is the ideal location. It has 167 rooms, 100 of which are designated “Smart Rooms” with state-of-the-art technology and secretarial and office services on call.
Manager Dov Rakia oversees the City Tower, which features a really good spa with long opening hours — 6.30am to 10pm — where guests can unwind with a wide range of treatments.
The other side of the City Tower is its “romance” packages. Couples of whatever stripe can book a room, dinner and a spa treatment, and if a bed scattered with rose petals in the shape of a heart is not your thing, ponder on this story from Dov Rakia.
“We were asked by one man if we could close the restaurant and reserve it specially for him and his girlfriend. He wanted a singer, and he wanted to propose.”
The hotel was happy to oblige. And, happily, the lady said yes.
A room laid out for love at the Sheraton City Tower in Ramat Gan