Debrah Brown, Tel Aviv: a perfect party pad for Israel’s second city

The Debrah’s 89 bedrooms all share an Art Deco design aesthetic (Max Kovalsky)
The Debrah’s 89 bedrooms all share an Art Deco design aesthetic (Max Kovalsky)

Tel Aviv is often described by travel journalists – somewhat lazily, in our opinion – as a Middle-Eastern version of Miami.

It’s true that Israel’s second city does share some similarities with the US’s beach-party capital. Both benefit from a lengthy stretch of picturesque, boardwalked beach where bodies beautiful can be found all day long in varying stages of undress. Both cities are home to some of the best examples of Art Deco and Bauhaus architecture on the planet. And both really come alive when the sun goes down.

But to compare Tel Aviv to anywhere else is to miss the point. Almost every global metropolis can lay claim to melting pot status in one form or another, but the way in which so many different cultures and nationalities have successfully fused together in Tel Aviv is staggering. The result is a place with its own, highly recognisable DNA – and with an energy that’s palpable.

Few hotels encapsulate this better than the Debrah Brown. Opened in 2021 and part of the rapidly growing portfolio of Brown Hotels – without a doubt the most exciting homegrown hospitality brand to be found here – this smart 89-room, city crashpad combines lavish, neo-classical influences with a hint of New York swagger in a way that is also unmistakably Tel Avivian.

Where is it?

Located at the intersection of Ben Yehuda and Gordon streets, the Debrah is just a few minutes’ walk from Gordon beach, and only a little further from Dizengoff Square, where you’ll find a cluster of Tel Aviv’s liveliest bars and restaurants. The chic boutiques, galleries and cafes of the Paris-like neighbourhood of Neve Tzedek, are about half an hour away on foot, but still eminently walkable. Indeed, Tel Aviv is a city tailor-made for clocking up the step count on your iPhone.

The Debrah’s lobby makes an impressive architectural statement (Max Kovalsky)
The Debrah’s lobby makes an impressive architectural statement (Max Kovalsky)

Style

Even under a smart lick of paint, you can still recognise the Brutalist lines of the Debrah’s towering exterior. This building was once home to the original Deborah Hotel, Tel Aviv’s first high-end kosher hotel, which opened in 1964 at a time when this architectural style was having a moment in the city.

Venture inside the Debrah, however, and little remains of the former aesthetic. Local architect Yossi Friedman has combined classic European notes (think opulent Art-Deco and Italianate fixtures and furnishings) with the boldness of an uptown Big Apple bolthole. The lobby, in particular, makes an impressive statement with its gold chandelier hanging over a large, teal-green velvet sofa, eye-catching geometric patterns on the wall. This stylistic tone is continued in the bedrooms where velvet headboards and sofas accent the dark wood floors, punchy greens and gold contrasting the monochromatic colour scheme.

With its theatrical open kitchen, Dvora is one of the hottest restaurant tickets in town right now (Max Kovalsky)
With its theatrical open kitchen, Dvora is one of the hottest restaurant tickets in town right now (Max Kovalsky)

Food & drink

Dining out in London, it’s now almost impossible to avoid finding a whole, roasted cauliflower on a menu. Much of the credit for this trend lies with Eyal Shani. Without a doubt Tel Aviv’s best-known chef, he popularised this dish as part of a culinary philosophy that gives vegetables equal billing to meat and fish. That philosophy is in delightful play on the menu of Dvora, the Debrah’s laid-back, achingly hip small-plates restaurant, which Shani helms.

From Sunday to Thursday night, a seriously good-looking local crowd can be found tucking into dishes such as beetroot carpaccio, seared entrecote steak and Arabic cabbage roasted in lamb jus, all prepared theatrically in an open kitchen.

Breakfast, too, is something rather special. Tel Aviv is famous for its morning fast-breaker, and the Debrah’s is a fantastic exemplar. There is no menu. You are asked how you like your eggs, and whether you fancy a freshly squeezed fruit juice or coffee. Formalities disposed of, they then bring out to you a two-tiered stand filled with an assortment of mezze: breads, pastries, olives, baba ganouch, tuna salad, smoked salmon, various cheeses. We could go on. All of it is fresh and delicious – proof that when it comes to choice at breakfast-time, less is most certainly more.

Facilities

With sweeping views of the city and nearby coast, the spacious rooftop provides a fantastic spot to end a day of exploring, either lying prostrate on a sunlounger, or in one of the three jacuzzi baths, glass of fizz in hand. A decent-sized gym and excellent spa – which offers extremely well-priced massages – complete the package. There isn’t a swimming pool, but it’s not a big loss.

Extracurricular

The Carmel Market is the largest marketplace, or shuk, in Tel Aviv and is a must-visit. Here, the European feel of neighbourhoods such as nearby Neve Tzedek is notably absent amidst the sensory assault that comes as traders curry for your custom, selling everything from clothing to spices.

Then to the ancient port of Jaffa, which pre-dates modern Tel Aviv by thousands of years, its cobblestones and crumbling stone buildings, Ottoman mosques and grand, Byzantine churches standing virtually side by side, a fascinating reminder of the history to be found here.

Today, Jaffa is increasingly gentrified and on its labyrinthine streets, you’ll find art galleries, brik-a-brak shops, hip restaurants and sidewalk cafes, all thrumming with life. In particular, the area around Rab Hanina Street is famed for its coffee shops, and many locals will tell you that Ada Hanina café is the best in town.

Elsewhere, we’d recommend a stop at Herzl 16 – a shabby-chic café-bar situated in a crumbling courtyard, that also lays claim to Tel Aviv’s oldest elevator. As with many spots in Israel’s second city, it’s charming, laid back and extremely cool.

There’s nothing understated about the bathrooms at the Debrah Brown (Max Kovalsky)
There’s nothing understated about the bathrooms at the Debrah Brown (Max Kovalsky)

Which room?

There are 89 rooms at the Debrah, ranging from the cosy Urban category – which is still a decent 172 sq.ft - all the way to the Executive Suite on the 11th floor, which comes in at a very spacious 441 sq.ft and includes separate bedroom and living area.

All rooms pop with the same Insta-friendly Art Deco design style – think charcoal black walls, green marbled bathroom with oval mirrors and a large, very comfortable bed – while the bathrooms include a rainfall shower, Molton Brown toiletries and plush towels and bathrobes.

Best for…

A go-for-broke city break. The Debrah is a brilliantly located, and eminently comfortable launch pad from which to explore this high-energy destination.

Details

Stays start from £132 per night in an Urban Room. For more information or to book, please visit brownhotels.com/debrah