The Jerusalem Post - The Jerusalem Post Magazine
Upmarket and effortless
Urban ease at Jaffa’s Market House Hotel
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s someone who delights in travel but rarely finds the time to make it farther than Beit Hakerem, a stay at a Jaffa boutique hotel has long been on my proverbial bucket list. Well, I finally managed to get my lazy tush out of Jerusalem and into Tel Aviv’s “ancient Arabian Nights” part of town for a perfectly lovely stay at the Market House.
I can’t give all the credit to a sudden burst of energy on my part, as I was set to attend an event-of-the-year-style wedding at the gorgeous Bayit al Hayam overlooking the sea. I wanted to revel freely in what I knew would be copious cocktails and spirited partying until the wee hours without the worry of the train back home. So, encouraged by the enthusiastic TripAdvisor reviews and the location – mere minutes from the Bayit hall, next to the landmark Clock Tower and flea market – I booked the Market House Hotel.
My visit got off to a great start when, rushing over from a long day at work, I stepped into the chic, cool lobby. Built on the ruins of a Byzantine chapel, I noted the mustard leather couches, boho wood-paneled decor, glassed floor with views into the decorative wine cellar below and shelves of novels just waiting to be read, many of the trashy bodice-ripper sort perfect for the nearby beach. After being warmly greeted by the smiling staffperson at the desk – excellent service would be a hallmark of my stay – I made my way upstairs.
What a room! Though compact as befits an urban space, it was equipped with everything one could possibly need – be it safe, espresso machine, hairdryer or straw hat. The French doors opened onto an adorable balcony with an amazing view of bustling Jaffa below. A second set of doors inside the room opened into a generous-sized bathroom replete with welcoming bathtub. A complimentary bottle of wine, tray of fruit and chocolates awaited my kind attentions, but that would have to wait. I changed into my LBD (little black dress) and made my way over to the wedding.
Mazal tov, Saul and Hannah! It truly was an event to remember from the sunset beginning to the Brazilian Carnival-type dancer end. I Rockette-kicked the short way back to the Market House and sank into the insanely comfy boat of a bed. Sweet Jaffa dreams awaited.
The next morning, barur, I hustled over to my next can’t-miss event: breakfast. Despite my late start, the staff was right on top of it, immediately bringing out my requested iced coffee with oat milk (delicious) and taking my shakshuka order. Opting for health after the previous night’s free-for-all, I grabbed some colorful salad with mozzarella and debated between the fresh beet, carrot and orange juices before making the executive decision to drink them all.
I let the relaxation roll on with a second iced coffee and some quality time with my book (Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers; the bodice-ripper would have to wait), first at a table outside – against the backdrop of some very Tel Aviv-esque graffiti, often the subject of popular walking tours – then later back in bed for what morphed into a contented midday snooze.
Considering a ride on one of the complimentary bikes, I opted to walk the boardwalk to the neighboring beach, sinking into the soft sand and enjoying the view of Old Jaffa. After numerous turns in the warm waves, choppy that day, it was time for another beautiful Jaffa sunset – also enjoyed by the people specially gathering on benches and perching on walls to watch the spectacle.
A familiar sensation then cropped up: hunger. Not to worry, back to the hotel’s complimentary happy hour I went (5 p.m.8 p.m.). Nibbles, such as crudite and olive tapenade (and alcohol!), were on offer, and I was all for it (though I prudently abstained from the drink).
Sated, I was ready to face the sad truth: It was time to bid adieu to what seemed like home after only one day and night. Waving my handkerchief at the helpful-to-the-end staff, I headed for the station. While I would have liked more time in this exotic locale, it’s comforting to know that my Market House refuge is just a short train ride away.
The writer was a guest of the hotel.