After a record year in tourism to Israel last year, 2018 is offering jet-setters even more to look forward to with exciting new hotels opening across the country. There will be two long-anticipated luxury hotels in Jaffa opening their doors in time for Passover visitors; several boutique hotels in Tel Aviv offering a “live like a local” experience; and a desert spa for enjoying sunsets over the Arava Valley.
Whether you’re looking to relax, explore, or blend in with the local crowd, keep an eye on this list of anticipated new hotel openings as you plan your Israel travels this year.
Walking into the Setai, located in the heart of the ancient port city of Jaffa, is like walking into another era. More than 20 years of preservation work, led by the Israel Antiquities Authority, helped maintain the building’s original Ottoman-era stone work and features. Workers even found artifacts dating back to the Crusader period (12thcentury) during the digs.
The structure was built as a fortress in 1886 but also served as a prison and police station throughout its history. Today, stone and marble corridors connect the property’s five buildings, featuring 120 luxury rooms situated around a central courtyard. Other facilities include a restored Turkish hamam and an infinity rooftop pool overlooking the Tel Aviv skyline.
The site remains a significant monument to the area, known for its history, culture and architectural heritage. When The Setai opens in mid-February, it will be the second Setai location in Israel. The hotel group also has a property at the Sea of Galilee.
- THE VERA
Known for its Bauhaus buildings and flourishing nightlife, Tel Aviv’s Rothschild Boulevard is a staple on the itineraries of visitors to the White City. Several boutique hotels have popped up along the iconic tree-lined street in recent years. The Vera, opening this winter, is the newest on the block and the first property by entrepreneur Danny Tamari, formerly regional general manager for the Brown Hotels Collection.
With a focus on collaborating with local designers and brands, the hotel aims to expose guests to Israel’s unique creative talent and craftsmanship. The Vera Magazine, a collaboration with local lifestyle magazine Telavivian, replaces traditional concierge service by offering insider tips and recommendations for guests who want to experience the city like a local. A lobby vending machine dispenses cocktails created by local mixologists, who also operate the hotel bar.
The interior, designed by Yaron Tal Studio, combines the industrial style and roughness of the original 1950s office building, its raw floors and unplastered walls, with high-end design sensibility and an abundance of indoor and outdoor greenery. Custom furniture by local designer Tomer Nachshon and light fixtures by Ohad Benit adorn the hotel’s 39 guest rooms.
The arrival of The Jaffa, operated by Manhattan-based real estate company RFR Holding, this spring adds further proof that historic Jaffa is going through a luxury revival. The property, designed by world-renowned architect John Pawson in collaboration with local architect Ramy Gill, is set within a new building as well as a 19th century building that once housed Jaffa’s French hospital.
The transformation took more than three years, with the help of dozens of restoration experts who carefully preserved architectural features from the original building, like vaulted ceilings and stained-glass windows. Located beside the Old City’s winding alleys filled with art galleries, boutiques and antiques shops, the hotel will have 127 rooms, a spa, private beach and outside deck with a pool. Guests will dine underneath Crusader-era arches in the hotel’s signature restaurant. The property also includes a separate six-story wing that houses 32 private residences designed by Pawson.
Nestled into a cliff in the Negev’s Arava Valley, a desert landscape bordered on the west by the Negev highlands and on the east by the Edom Mountains of Jordan, the Six Senses Shaharut is scheduled to open in late 2018. With a focus on sustainability and wellness, the 58 suites and villas, many with private pools, are designed to blend in with the desert topography and preserve the terrain.
Built from local rocks and drawing color inspiration from the surroundings, the accommodations will feature furnishings sourced from local community artisans. To maintain the tranquility of the desert, the hotel’s exterior lighting was carefully considered to protect the clarity of the Negev’s famed night sky, prized by stargazers.
Fresh ingredients are to be harvested seasonally from the resort’s own gardens and local farmers to supply the all-day restaurant and poolside bar and grill. At the Six Senses Spa, guests can practice yoga with desert views and receive personalized spa treatments, fitness and nutritional advice. Other facilities include a camel stable, offering morning and twilight camel rides, an open-air amphitheater beneath the stars, and a tented Bedouin dining experience.
With a collection of popular boutique hotels in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, the Brown Hotels group is targeting a younger, urban traveler in 2018 with the launch of its “Sons of a Brown” chain. The first in the new line of “affordable” hotels was the Dave West, which opened early this year.
If the second, Dave South, is anything like its sibling, it will combine the eccentric soul of the city with the standards of a luxury hotel and the familiarity of a local bar. The hotel is scheduled to open in August 2018 and the price, according to the Dave TLV website, “will leave plenty of cash in your wallet to eat, drink, party and whatever else tickles your fancy in our amazing city.”
Originally opened in 1870 as the region’s first luxury hotel, this historic property will reopen in April as The Drisco, part of the Leading Hotels of the World group. Situated in southern Tel Aviv in a neighborhood known as the American-German Colony, The Drisco will have 42 rooms, with some offering views of the waterfront and others overlooking Jaffa or the hotel’s courtyard.
Historically, the property was known as the Jerusalem Hotel and was built by two American colonists, John and George Drisco. When the hotel closed in 1940, it was used as a British military headquarters, and later housed Jewish refugees arriving in the newly formed country. After being abandoned and neglected for decades, a $35 million investment and 10-year restoration project has brought the hotel back to life.
- SEA OF GALILEE
Developer Avihu Tal, owner of the Restel Hotel in Tiberias, is one of several developers working to build up the tourist infrastructure on the Migdal Shore of the Galilee. His new hotel, Sea of Galilee, is scheduled to open in late 2018 and will have 200 rooms, each with a balcony facing the Sea of Galilee and Mount Arbel.
The town of Migdal, located northwest of Tiberias, is known as the native town of Mary Magdalene, and attracts many groups of Christian pilgrims.
“Within the span of a few years, the Migdal shore is becoming the leading tourist area in the Galilee, located between Nazareth and Tiberias, next to Kfar Nahum and the Mount of Beatitudes,” said Migdal Local Council head Israel Amrosi. “We are now paving a ₪20 million road that will connect all the planned hotels.”
A lack of access roads has been said to be one of the reasons for the delay of construction of some of the 3,000 approved hotel rooms in the area.
In late 2018, the Rimonim hotel chain is slated to reopen the Kedma hotel in Sde Boker, a kibbutz in the Negev desert best known for the home of David Ben-Gurion. The boutique hotel’s 140 rooms and suites, designed by architect Lea Rubanenko and interior designer Ruth Arad, will incorporate materials, fabrics and colors that capture the spirit of the desert and the ancient Spice Route.
The hotel aims to provide tourists with an experience that combines peace and quiet with unique experiences that only the desert can offer, said CEO of Rimonim Hotels Assaf Shalev. Its regional tour center will offer activities for guests including hikes, camel rides, bike rides, off-road tours, and ideas for those looking to enjoy desert tranquility.