Luxurious Magazine’s Henry McIntosh explores Tel Aviv and discovers a bustling metropolis providing divine cuisine, iconic architecture, a vibrant nightlife and plenty of culture
Tel Aviv cultivates an ambience as blissful as any Mediterranean destination. It’s a paradise for the luxury traveller and whether you plan to party all night, enjoy culinary delights, soak up the sun or while the hours away exploring cultural gems, the city boasts something for everyone. With Jerusalem merely an hour to the south-east and the stunning city of Haifa not too far north, Tel Aviv acts as a superb base from which to explore Israel. Still, with so much to do and see within the ‘White City’, the only problem with being based there is how hard you will find it to leave.
Art & Museums
Nowhere is the diversity of Tel Aviv’s appeal more pronounced than the city’s fascinating art and architectural scene. Bauhaus architecture reigns supreme in a city where the buildings are absolutely revered. The Design Museum Holon is a fine example, as is Preston Scott Cohen’s elegant blueprint for Tel Aviv’s Museum of Art, which is as beautiful as many of the wonderful works inside. Among them, domestic and international displays abound and exhibitions range from highly politicised works by the likes of David Tartakover to ethereal displays akin to the Growth Engines exhibition by Eli Gur Arie. Alongside the contemporary works, the museum boasts an impressive array of classic art by the likes of Van Gogh, Pollock, Picasso and Ernst to name but a few.
Whilst they are a must-visit, you don’t need a museum to experience art in Tel Aviv. Buildings boasting Bauhaus design are prevalent on most streets and it’s easy to see why this simplistic and stunning movement inspired Steve Jobs’ work at Apple. Many structures also play host to another, equally, entertaining form of art that is born on the street.
Strolling through the Florentin district you will encounter the abstract, political and downright humorous work of graffiti artists adorning the walls and shutters of bars, shops and domiciles alike. It’s not a bad place to stop for a drink if you’re feeling adventurous.
Where To Stay
At barely a century, old Tel Aviv’s curation of culture is mightily impressive and the city’s artistic flair is not lost on the hotels either. Other than a plethora of fine five-star hotels, boutique hotels dot the city. A lovely example is the jazzy Hotel Montefiore, a chic 1920s style accommodation with a hip vibe. The beach-themed Yam Hotel is another gem, with its convenient proximity to the port and beach it’s in an ideal location too.
For a more refined luxury look no further than the medley of classic five-star hotels, from the Sheraton and The Ritz-Carlton to Hilton. The latter of which is perched imperiously atop a beautiful beach by the same name. That said, if you leave your choice to me, opt for The Norman. Aside from the stylish suites available (the Penthouse is particularly sublime), The Norman also boasts a dazzling rooftop infinity pool with a beautiful view over the city, whilst two top class restaurants and a classy cocktail bar make this the perfect retreat after a day of exploration.
Tel Aviv isn’t a sprawling expanse of a city which means any of these hotels offers a fine location. Getting around is more pleasant if you have a driver. During my stay, which covered a weekend and a national holiday, we experienced little traffic and seamless journeys to all our city-wide destinations.
Old Jaffa & Illana Goor
There’s plenty to visit too. One excursion I would urge any visitor to make is the pilgrimage up to Old Jaffa. Jaffa existed as a port until the British Mandate and its history as a natural harbour can be traced back four thousand years. The winding, cobbled streets offer a magnanimous sense of history and a melting pot of cultures exist within its confines. Wander its breadth exploring the various sites before diving into the many highlights. If you’re still thirsty for art, Jaffa’s the place to be. Call in on the world-renowned Illana Goor Museum, which actually doubles up as the artist’s residence. If you’re lucky, you might see the eighty-year-old pottering around the 500-strong collection of global art, which she has accumulated during her fascinating life.
You will struggle to leave Ilana Goor’s without eyeing a purchase. Stunning necklaces, sculptures, rings and earrings, with precious stones, gold and silver base materials and a world-renowned artist as their creator, make this a meaningful place to spend freely. If Goor’s metallurgy isn’t your piece, rest assured, many of Israel’s finest artists reside within Jaffa and there are 50 different galleries to explore; it’s an art connoisseur paradise. To fuel your mission you may need a caffeine hit and in a city saturated with independent coffee shops you’re spoilt for choice. Just across the road from Ilana Goor’s museum lies my favourite, Basma Coffee, an Arabic shop serving sublime ‘mud’.