FOR THOSE WHO LOVE QUALITY WINING AND DINING, CHIC SHOPPING, HISTORY AND BREATHTAKING LANDSCAPES, ISRAEL HAS IT ALL TO SATISFY THE MOST DEMANDING STANDARDS OF TRAVEL OR LIVING. FROM NICE CONDOS TO LUXURY HOTELS, ISRAEL IS DOTTED WITH QUALITY ACCOMMODATION AND GASTRONOMY FROM NORTH TO SOUTH.
By Ross Belfer
Imagine waking up in a chic five-star hotel with millennia-old historical sites and designer shopping boutiques just outside your window. Following a bountiful breakfast of freshly baked bread, locally sourced cheese, colorful salads and some of the world’s best coffee, you stroll outside past a beautiful contemporary bridge and into a state-of-the-art museum showcasing world-renowned Israeli and local artists. Building up an appetite, you head into a bustling marketplace teeming with the freshest produce, dairy and dessert vendors, generations-old culinary specialty shops and new boutique restaurants frequented by travelers and locals alike. No, you are not in Rome or Istanbul — you’re in Jerusalem!
Life in Israel is far different from that which is often portrayed in global media. From the picturesque Galilee region in the north to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, the Dead Sea and south through the Negev Desert, life in Israel is full of modern attractions amidst breathtaking natural landscapes that inspire and enlighten locals and travelers of all tastes and interests.
In Israel’s northern Galilee region, travelers can experience a selection of newly opened boutique hotels, including Acre’s Efendi Hotel, an Ottoman architecture-inspired property boasting artfully designed rooms, a subterranean wine bar, Turkish Hammam and rooftop lounge featuring sweeping views of the Mediterranean Sea. The hotel is just a moment’s walk from Acre’s collection of historic sites, including the Crusader Underground Prison, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as the famed Uri Buri seafood restaurant.
Wine-loving locals and travelers can also explore the collection of more than 100 boutique wineries located across northern Israel, including Tishbi, Binyamina and Rimon, all of which offer wine tastings, master classes and vineyard tours. Foodies in northern Israel can also experience cooking classes in Mizpe Matat with celebrated Chef Erez Komorovsky and high-end restaurants including Muscat in Mizpe Hayamim, as well as home-cooked meals with EatWith, a new culinary experience allowing gourmets to dine in the homes of Israeli families.
Just fifteen minutes north of Tel Aviv, the luxurious seaside city of Herzliya boasts Israel’s first-ever Ritz Carlton property, which opened in December 2013 and features 197 designer rooms and suites, a gourmet kosher restaurant created by Israeli Chef Yonatan Roshfeld and a world-class spa. The hotel is located directly on Herzliya’s picturesque marina, which boasts high-end restaurants and shopping centers and from which travelers can embark on guided sailing tours across the Mediterranean.
In Tel Aviv, Israel’s modern capital of art and culture, travelers and locals alike can explore the city’s stunning collection of museums and art galleries, including the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, a stunning architectural marvel boasting a wide range of collections by contemporary Israeli and international artists. In the neighboring city of Holon, design enthusiasts can visit the Design Museum Holon, a bronze wire-like structure created by Israeli architect Ron Arad and boasting fashion and contemporary art-focused exhibitions.
In Tel Aviv, Israel’s modern capital of art and culture, travelers and locals alike can explore the city’s stunning collection of museums and art galleries…
For gourmets, Tel Aviv is an ideal travel destination, where generations-old Moroccan, Yemeni, Persian and Turkish eateries sit adjacent to innovative restaurants created by Israel’s homegrown collection of internationally acclaimed chefs. The culinary trend in Tel Aviv today is based on the emergence of informal, hip and lively restaurants serving genre-bending, high-quality dishes, such as Chef Eyal Shani’s Port Sa’id; Hahalutizym 3 in the Levinsky Market; Mizlala and the Carmel Market-adjacent HaBasta, voted one of the top 101 Restaurants in the World by Newsweek magazine.
Driving east from Tel Aviv through the Judean Hills is Jerusalem, Israel’s capital and a melting pot of culture, history, religion, and—as of late—inspiring modern attractions, restaurants and chic, new hotels. For those travelers looking to combine ancient touring with modern attractions, Jerusalem is home to unique art and cultural sites, including the world-renowned Israel Museum, Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, First Station entertainment complex and the art galleries, shops and restaurants in the city’s buzzing Machne Yehuda, German Colony and Nahlat Shiva neighborhoods—all of which can be explored by traveling along the city’s new light rail transportation system.
This April, the long-awaited Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem will open just a minute’s walk from the Jaffa Gate to the Old City of Jerusalem. In addition to its original Ottoman-era architecture and 200+ designer rooms, the hotel will feature a fitness suite and two full-service spas, as well as two restaurants and a chic lobby bar.
And in southern Israel, travelers can check in to one of the region’s unique luxury hotels options followed by an array of awe-inspiring excursions, including: a hike up Masada, a 2,300-year-old mountaintop fortress built by King Herod that features 360-degree panoramic views of the Dead Sea and the Judean Desert; a float in the Dead Sea, the lowest place on Earth; a trek through the Ramon Crater, the world’s largest geological crater; or a hike through Ein Avdat National Park, a massive canyon outside of Sde Boker boasting hiking trails and a natural waterfall. A