Naama Barak
March 28

A Jaffa boutique hotel, The Drisco, and its onsite restaurant, George & John, are the first Israeli establishments to be admitted to the Relais & Châteaux association that bands together luxury hospitality properties and top-end restaurants from around the world.

“Finally, there is a place in Israel which adheres to our hospitality culture and a chef which serves gourmet food, while promoting seasonality, localism, and creativity,” says Relais & Châteaux president Laurent Gardinier. “It is about time that our organization will include representation from this area, and this makes us feel proud.”

The Drisco Hotel was originally built in the 19th century by brothers George and John Drisco for the American pioneering community that had immigrated to Jaffa in the 19th century. It was later turned into the Jerusalem Hotel by the German Templers who had moved in to the area, and was used to host famous guests such as literary icon Mark Twain.

Israeli hotel and eatery make history by joining elite Relais club
A view of Bar Hoffman and Auerbach streets in Tel Aviv’s American Colony, showing Maine Friendship House and Immanuel Church on left, Beit Immanuel on right. Photo by Dmitriy Feldman Svarshik/

For years, it stood in disrepair in the run-down American Colony neighborhood before it was refurbished together withs its surroundings to create one of Jaffa’s most exclusive areas. The modern-day Drisco Hotel includes 42 rooms and suites, a bar, a sea-facing rooftop, spa rooms, a gym, a garden and decorative murals dating back to 1925.

The George & John restaurant situated in the hotel and headed by chef Tomer Tal has become a top culinary destination that’s graded among the 50 best restaurants in the Middle East, according to “50 BEST.” Its evening menu includes, for example, crab pasta, roasted lamb, roasted and smoked kohlrabi and a pine nut and za’atar risotto. 

Relais & Châteaux, meanwhile, was founded in 1954 as an association of hotels, hospitality properties and luxury restaurants. It gathers almost 600 properties, 80 hotels and 340 Michelin stars in 65 countries around the world.

“My team and I are proud to be the first restaurant in Israel joining the organization of Relais & Châteaux,” adds chef Tomer Tal. “This could not have been achieved without our hard work, insistence and our aspiration to provide our guests with a top-standard culinary experience — one that puts our heart on the plate every single time.”

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