For a country steeped in so much history, it may surprise you to learn that Israel is the size of only Wales.
While small in square miles, it punches above its weight with a rich culture and as a melting pot of different nationalities. It is also an innovator in both agriculture and tech - boasting a start-up that turns waste into renewable energy.
One visit to Tel Aviv or nearby Jerusalem and you’ll be hooked on their way of life. Tel Aviv itself is a relatively new city, especially when compared with the centuries-old Jerusalem. It was founded in 1909 and has since become Israel’s third-biggest city with a population of 450,000. The White City, as it is known, is a bustling metropolis with some of the best food you’ll find in the world, buzzing nightlife, beautiful beaches and a temperate, all-year climate to boot. It’s the full package.
In the heart of the city sits The Norman Tel Aviv. In a world of soulless mega hotel chains, The Norman is a breath of fresh air. The luxury hotel is one of the few boutiques with facilities to rival that of the beachfront establishments, while still maintaining a family-run feel. Opened in 2014, it has a nostalgic Art Deco aesthetic, a rooftop infinity pool, and 50 rooms — all with its signature style of exceptional luxury. No wonder A-listers flock here in their droves.
Bang in the middle of the action, in Tel Aviv’s famous Rothschild neighbourhood. It is 15 minutes from the beach on foot (and even quicker if you take one of the many electric scooters littering the pavements), a stone’s throw from the chic, European-like Neve Tzedek area and in touching distance of the renowned Carmel Market.
The tree-lined boulevard is one of the most expensive in the city. The eclectic architecture dates back to the early 1920s and is dotted with Bauhaus buildings, brutalistic structures from the socialist decades and unique structures. During the day, it’s a commercial area with office buildings, but at night, it transforms into the beating heart of the city’s club scene, especially on Thursdays, the start of the weekend for the locals.
The Norman is in a trendy residential city square and one of the few boltholes in the Unesco heritage site.
If style is what you’re looking for, The Norman has it in spades. The hotel is made up of two buildings, with a third set to open in 2024. The modernistic facade retains the original 1920s Art Deco feel and looks like it was plucked out of Miami’s South Beach. Elements within reflect this style — from the flooring to the staircases — but they are juxtaposed with a contemporary detailing that ensures this establishment doesn’t feel remotely dated. The aesthetic is a mix of old and new, with antiques placed alongside contemporary art and cutting-edge technology.
The design was headed up by David d’Almada of Sagrada — the interior design firm behind London’s Arts Club and the Italian restaurant Sartoria. It is categorised by light and bright interiors giving an expansive feel. The furniture is custom-made and is set alongside vintage pieces thrifted from around the world. Throughout the hotel, you can’t help but notice the artwork, comprising original paintings, sculptures, and photographs by contemporary Israeli artists.
While situated in the heart of the city, the designers have paid particular attention to maintaining greenery. The grapefruit tree-lined grass areas give the feel of a mid-city oasis.
Food & Drink
There are not one but two restaurants within the boutique hotel’s walls. ALENA is well-known among the locals and has had a revamp post-Covid lockdowns, with new chef duo and lifelong friends Omer Shadmi Muller and Daniel Zur at its helm. The restaurant combines food from their home Galilean region with Mediterranean cuisine. It’s an unpretentious eatery that taps into the growing trend for a more casual dining experience. It offers all-day dining and features the signature Alena aubergine pizza as one of the most popular dishes on the menu. This is closely followed by the leaf salad, a name that completely undersells the zesty lemon, orange and almond components that are a treat to the tastebuds.
The second restaurant, re-opening soon, is the Israeli version of Dinings, a globally renowned spot offering Izakaya-style Japanese tapas. Before sampling The Norman’s impeccable cuisine, stop off at The Library Bar. This is a cosy, beautifully decorated watering hole with a sizeable cocktail menu and the most extensive champagne list in Israel. It also has wine curated by the in-house sommelière Shira Tsiddon that features locally grown options that will suit those with a sweet tooth.
With a view overlooking the city skyline, there are few better places to unwind after a day of eating and sight-seeing than The Norman’s infinity rooftop pool. This is part of a wellness offering that includes a spa terrace and yoga classes.
It would be remiss to visit Tel Aviv without partaking in a food crawl as the cuisine here is some of the best you’ll ever taste. The Norman is within walking distance of the renowned Levinsky Market, where there are stalls serving up the best of Middle Eastern cuisine, from the Persian ghormeh sabzi (herb stew) to the Georgian khachapuri (cheese bread).
At the buzzing Carmel Market, you can get your hands on everything from clothing to spices. Browse Neve Tzedeck’s boutiques and grab an ice cream from legendary parlour Anita. Skip visiting on Saturdays when most shops and restaurants close for Shabbat.
A day trip to Jerusalem or nearby Jaffa is a must. When in the latter, go to Abu Hassan restaurant for the best hummus you will ever try in your life.
There are 50 rooms in The Norman, including 20 suites and two penthouse suites. The main building has the Classic, Deluxe and Grand Deluxe rooms that increase in square footage from 220 to 377 sq. ft, while the suites are found in the second building next door. The duplex penthouse is ideal for families, while the corner suites themed by colour are popular with returning guests.
All the rooms have smart control systems, rainforest showers, plush towels and The Norman’s bespoke toiletries featuring the addictive and invigorating scent of bergamot, cederwood and white flowers.
Whether you’re exploring the White City, travelling for business, or looking for ultimate relaxation on a beach break, The Norman is the chicest of retreats.
Rooms start from £600; thenorman.com