Israel’s standout fall getaways
The ultimate weekend escape plans
It takes no more than a quick scan of popular local Facebook groups like Secret Jerusalem or Secret Tel Aviv to conclude that the Land of Milk and Honey is notorious for high-priced destination hotels with mediocre service and less than five-star amenities. Rest assured, however, that this isn’t always the case and it’s a stereotype that’s swiftly changing.
A new crop of hotels has been popping up, from the North to the South, offering true value for money – and we’re not only talking about expensive options; trend-driven, affordable boutique hotels are also sweeping the country, making being impulsive about a quick weekend getaway all the more appealing.
Here’s a look at standout spots all across Israel, all of which are perfect for fall getaways.
Re-opened in May after a $25 million renovation, this modern resort couldn’t have a more apt tagline: Happiness Is Around. Dan Caesarea is arguably the best destination hotel for families, especially those with young children. Not only is there a playroom with sitters to watch your children throughout the day, they have a huge kids pool area, playground, multiple tree houses, faux BMW cars for kids to “drive” around in and endless space for running and playing. They also have Israel’s only pool table located in an actual pool. While there isn’t really any reason to leave the hotel, they have a shuttle, should you wish to leave, that can take you to town or to the beach, which is located five minutes away. If you decide to venture out, go to the Old Town just before sunset to take in jaw-dropping views. There, you’ll also find a well-known restaurant favored by local celebrities like Gal Gadot and Helena. Speaking of Gadot, she’s among the many Israeli celebrities to have recently stayed at the renovated resort.
1 Rothschild St., Caesarea, (04) 626-9111; danhotels. com. Kosher.
Milos Hotel Dead Sea
This newbie hotel still has some kinks to work out when it comes to service (read: don’t expect much), but when it comes to value for money, it’s hard to beat. While many competing hotels haven’t been renovated in years (though it can feel like decades), Milos is brand new, meaning everything is still glisteningly clean while being comparable in price to the area’s other leading hotels. While the main attraction is obviously the beach area, the hotel also offers an attractive pool. Non-kosher visitors will be happy to know, should you be traveling on Shabbat, that Milos is not kosher, meaning you can enjoy that Saturday morning pre-Dead Sea soak cappuccino. On the topic of food, skip the half-board option and instead go exploring. The Taj Mahal Restaurant in particular is highly recommended.
Dead Sea, Ein Bokek, (08) 668-8100; herbertsamuel. com. Not Kosher.
Something funny happens when you ask people around Israel for hotel recommendations. In my experience, at least one out of three times they’ll steer the conversation away from whatever area you’re inquiring about and tell you to beeline for Beresheet. When you go to Beresheet, located on the edge of the Ramon Crater, you’ll quickly see why. Though it’s easily one of the priciest destinations in Israel, it’s an unforgettable one. In fact, even the worst photographer would inspire Instagram envy when posting a shot from their outdoor pool area, which overlooks a primeval desert landscape complete with all kinds of wild (but harmless) animals. While it’s very much an escape perfect for a couple, it’s also family-friendly. All of the rooms are spacious and feature either their own private pool or large balconies with sweeping views.
1 Beresheet Rd., Mitzpe Ramon; (08) 659-8000; isrotel.com. Kosher.
The Efendi Hotel
You might not know the Efendi Hotel, but every true foodie knows Uri Jeremias and his restaurant Uri Buri. Run and owned by the world-renowned bearded chef, Uri Jeremias, it’s widely considered one of the best fish and seafood restaurants in Israel and chefs from all over the world have come to dine there. More recently, Jeremias bought up ancient properties a few minutes away from his restaurant, and spent millions – and eight years – transforming them into a luxury boutique hotel – we’re talking artists especially flown in from Italy. The details are unparalleled and while it’s too small of a hotel to be dripping in amenities, the Efendi offers a unique breakfast served on a knight’s table in a centuries-old room that dates back to the early Ottoman Empire. They also have a gorgeous cellar level wine bar. The cherry on the cake is a spa with a nearly 400-year-old Turkish bath.
Louis HaTshi’i Street, Acre, 074-729-9799; efendi-hotel.com. Not Kosher
Gordonia Private Hotel
If you follow local Israeli celebrities on social media, odds are you’re familiar with the stunning Gordonia Private Hotel. It’s where the likes of actress Agam Rudberg and model Nataly Dadon go to celebrate special occasions like birthdays, bachelorettes, baby shower, and other similar events. The adult-only boutique hotel features well-appointed suites, some of which even have a private pool with mountain views. The hotel itself is located in the heart of the Jerusalem Hills, on the northwestern slope of Mount Ruach, 10 km. from Jerusalem. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all served on premise, so there’s no need to leave the pampering hotel, which comes complete with inroom spa services.
Ma’aleh Hahamisha, Kiryat Anavim, (02) 533-1342; gordoniahotel.com. Kosher.
As a tourist, when you think of Jerusalem you think of the Old City with the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and other unrivaled sites – you don’t necessarily think of modern amenities and luxury shopping, but that’s just what you get at Mamilla. While it might not be the ideal destination for someone’s first trip to Jerusalem, it couldn’t be more fantastic for those living in Israel looking to see Jerusalem in a new light. It’s located in the Mamilla area, which is known for designer shops, cafés and restaurants; you almost feel like you’re in a European city strolling around, and yet you’re just moments away from all the famous sites, like Mahaneh Yehuda, and classic restaurants. The hotel itself is contemporary while offering sweeping Old City views (their Rooftop restaurant/bar is a must!). Unlike many competitors, they also have fantastic service and one of the best breakfasts.
11 Shlomo Hamelech St., Jerusalem, (02) 548-2222; mamillahotel.com. Kosher.
Trend-driven and budget-conscious are the two factors that make the the Dave Levinsky, part of the Brown Hotels’ growing empire, a standout choice. Opened this fall, you get low-cost, boutique accommodations (fancy speak for small) in a central location that’s especially great for dinning and nightlife. Given that this hotel is new-new, it’s about as good as you can hope to get for bargain prices in Tel Aviv – and with only 27 rooms, there’s enough attention to go around for all visitors. They also have a communal rooftop terrace playing host to a rotating series of pop-ups and performances. In keeping with the fun, upbeat vibes, there’s a pink and beige color palette throughout. This might not be a family destination, but for a couple looking to have a fun weekend in Tel Aviv, it’s hard to beat. Note: the hotel does not have a food and beverage program.
85 Nahalat Binyamin St., Tel Aviv; (03) 717-3200; brownhotels.com. Not Kosher.
The Ritz-Carlton, Herzliya
One thing is for sure: when it comes to hotels, there’s no going wrong with a Ritz. The mega-chain’s Herzliya location is just as perfect for couples or friends’ trips as it is for families since it has an ideal marina location, rooftop pool and bar and a fantastic spa. While you could easily spend a weekend not leaving the hotel – food included thanks to their wonderful Herbert Samuel restaurant – there is plenty to do just seconds from the hotel lobby, from shopping to chartering a yacht.
4 Hashunit St., Herzliya, (09) 373-5555; ritzcarlton. com. Kosher.
THE KID in you will rejoice at the Dan Caesarea’s treehouses.
RELAX ON a raft at the edge of the Ramon Crater, at Beresheet.
GRAB YOUR swimsuit and cue for a game at Israel’s only pool table in an actual pool, at the Dan.
THE ROOFTOP restaurant/bar offers contemporary cuisine and unparalleled Old City views.
FUN AND upbeat: That’s the vibe at Dave Levinsky.
HAVE A relaxing cup of coffee or a comforting spot of tea in Mamilla’s peaceful inner courtyard.