The city’s new boutique hotels blend historical elements with modern design and amenities.

By Andrew Villagomez
July 24, 2015
Credit: © Sivan Askayo

Nicknamed “the City that Never Sleeps,” Tel Aviv is well known for its vibrant nightlife, booming technology industry, and stunning coastal setting. But it’s also gaining renown for innovative contemporary design, particularly when it comes to the city’s recent boom in carefully curated boutique hotels.

"Tel Aviv hotels have seen a revival in design within the boutique-hotel segment over the last decade," says Olivier Heuchenne, managing director of the Norman, which opened a year ago to universal acclaim.

Hotelier Leon Avigad, who owns the Brown TLV and the newly opened Brown Beach House, explains that Tel Aviv presents both unique challenges and opportunities to hotel designers. "It's always a fight between two important values," he says. "Authenticity on the one hand, and the desire to remain loyal to the origin of the property or to the vibe of TLV, which is so rough, creative, and unpolished—and we love it this way!"

On the other hand, hotel designers want to meet high-end international standards. "We all travel and are exposed to the highest levels of hotels,” Avigad says of Tel Aviv’s locals and visitors. New properties such as the Norman, the Brown Beach House, and the Poli bring these seemingly disparate qualities together with ease, heralding a new era of luxury design for the modern Israeli city.

The Norman

Located in the heart of the White City (a UNESCO heritage site known for its Bauhaus architecture), the Norman is made up of two historic 1920s buildings that have been restored and outfitted with state-of-the-art amenities. Interior designer David d’Almada pays tribute to the elegance of the era in sleek yet glamorous, light-filled rooms woven through with Mediterranean touches. The hotel also brings in contemporary influences; over 100 pieces of local Israeli artwork have been hung throughout the 50 hotel rooms and suites, as well as in the public spaces. Tel Aviv’s unique mix of natural beauty and modern development is brilliantly highlighted by the Norman’s rooftop infinity pool, which offers a striking juxtaposition of city and sea views. Two on-site restaurants complete the experience.

Credit: © Sivan Askayo

The Brown Beach House

One of the most eagerly anticipated openings of the year has been the Brown Beach House, a second outpost from the owners of the Brown TLV, a boutique hotel pioneer known for its retro-chic ambiance, enviable rooftop, and for being the first member of the Design Hotels brand in Israel.

Credit: © Sivan Askayo

A modern take on Tel Aviv’s 1950s-era summer resorts, the Brown Beach House is set just a block away from the water. It features 40 rooms and suites with vintage furniture hand-selected from around the world and private sun terraces with sea and city views, as well as a fish-focused gourmet kosher restaurant, bars and lounges, and even a pillow concierge. The hotel is set to be a cultural venue as well, with a Sunday residency featuring DJ sets by leading local musicians and tastemakers, and upcoming mixology workshops, pop-up art events, and other live music performances.

Credit: © Sivan Askayo

The Poli

Internationally renowned industrial designer Karim Rashid, who has designed the Semiramis Hotel in Athens, Berlin's Nhow Hotel, and the MyHotel Brighton, is making his mark in Tel Aviv at the Poli, which is set to open this October. Rashid’s vision for the boutique space was inspired as much by the city’s role as a technology hub as by its coastal setting.

"I wanted to speak about that new energy flowing through the city," he says. "You have the strip of the beach, but the mentality of Tel Aviv is very contemporary. Tel Aviv’s culture is all about the moment and about living life. I tried to embrace that spirit, energy, and love of life in the hotel." The hotel’s interiors are a warm mix of yellows, blues, greens, and clean whites. Mini bars in the rooms will also be stocked with organic snacks and drinks to reflect the city’s healthy spirit.

Rashid also wants guests to feel like they’re part of the rest of the world during their stay. "Israelis are very connected and live around the world, and are very cosmopolitan,” he says. “I wanted to make sure that connection was there, in physical form.” Instead of checking in at a downstairs lobby, guests will be “beamed up” to the rooftop via elevator, in which LED screens project the day’s weather and entertainment lineups.