THE TOAST OF TEL AVIV

We look beyond the lobby of The Jaffa, a ground­break­ing ho­tel in Is­rael cre­ated by Bri­tish ar­chi­tect John Paw­son

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Escape -

LO­CA­TION

Amid the cob­bled streets, bustling mar­kets and won­der­ful artists’ stu­dios in the heart of the 4,000-year-old port city of Jaffa – around which modern Tel Aviv has risen – is The Jaffa, a new ho­tel with res­i­dences over­look­ing the his­toric port and Mediter­ranean Sea. Co-owned by The Lux­ury Col­lec­tion by Mar­riott and the Us-based prop­erty de­vel­oper and con­tem­po­rary art col­lec­tor Aby Rosen (also be­hind The Sea­gram Build­ing and Gramercy Park Ho­tel), the prop­erty, once a 19th-cen­tury French hos­pi­tal, is now an el­e­gant and sub­tly lux­u­ri­ous es­cape, cre­ated by min­i­mal­ist Bri­tish ar­chi­tect John Paw­son. Along with lo­cal ar­chi­tect Ramy Gill, Paw­son has re­stored the u-shaped venue, care­fully adding a re­cessed pent­house storey, as well as a new ad­ja­cent build­ing in which the res­i­dences, car park and sub­ter­ranean spa are now housed.

AR­CHI­TEC­TURE

As one might ex­pect with a de­sign by Paw­son, The Jaffa’s suc­cess lies as much in what the ar­chi­tect has left un­touched as in what he’s con­structed. This was a painstak­ing, but pur­posely im­per­fect restora­tion, which un­earthed a 13th-cen­tury wall from the time of the Cru­sades run­ning right through the ho­tel’s lobby, as well as Ro­man-style arched foun­da­tions, which, hav­ing been ex­posed dur­ing a five-me­tre dig, now form a mag­i­cal cen­tral court­yard. On the first floor, a de­con­se­crated chapel now houses a night­club, with re­fur­bished stained glass win­dows.

‘ We wanted to re­store the old Napoleonic hos­pi­tal, then add a wing that re­spected the view but was com­pletely modern,’ ex­plains Paw­son, who has worked on the project since 2006. ‘It’s a re­sort more than a ho­tel – there’s a pool and a court­yard, two res­tau­rants and the spa. One of the rea­sons it took so long was be­cause of the an­cient arte­facts we un­earthed – ar­chae­ol­o­gists were called in.’

‘John and I wrote the nar­ra­tive for the space be­fore we placed one brick,’ re­calls Gill. ‘ We asked our­selves how we could blend old and new. The 19th-cen­tury part was re­turned to its for­mer grandeur, then we cre­ated a ro­mance be­tween the two cen­turies.’

IN­TE­RIOR

The bed­rooms, also de­signed by Paw­son, are an­other sat­is­fy­ing mix of old and new. The pro­por­tions re­main grand, but have been hu­man­ised by the use of a ‘wet cap­sule’ – a cen­tral glass box which houses the bath­room. Con­structed by B&B Italia, the fur­ni­ture – which in­cludes a bed, up­hol­stered chairs and a chrome mini­bar – was also de­signed by Paw­son, as were many of the soft fur­nish­ings, re­alised in a pal­ette of pale, sun-faded tones.

‘It’s un­like any other ho­tel in terms of its de­sign and fit­tings,’ says Paw­son. ‘A huge amount of en­ergy has gone into cre­at­ing cus­tom pieces to en­sure it has a dif­fer­ent feel.’ The lobby, too, is a vis­ual treat. Traver­tine tiled floors through­out the ho­tel of­fer a per­fect back­drop for co-owner Rosen’s own Damien Hirst Spin Paint­ings and a min­i­mal­ist mar­ble re­cep­tion desk de­signed by Paw­son. Fur­ni­ture by Shiro Ku­ra­mata, Pierre Paulin, Preben Fabri­cius and Jør­gen Kastholm is more dec­o­ra­tive than one might ex­pect from the Bri­tish de­signer, but works per­fectly in the serene sur­round­ings.

‘There’s so much to see,’ en­thuses Paw­son. ‘Some will recog­nise cer­tain pieces or be in­trigued by oth­ers. Ar­chi­tects don’t al­ways have the chance to also do the in­te­ri­ors, but it’s great to work on both. It’s a fun place.’ From £475 per night (the­jaf­fa­ho­tel.com).

‘JOHN AND I WROTE THE NAR­RA­TIVE FOR THE HO­TEL BE­FORE WE PLACED ONE BRICK, ASK­ING OUR­SELVES HOW WE COULD BLEND OLD AND NEW’

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