I was long overdue for a relaxing getaway with my girlfriend.
Spending one night in Haifa and two days and nights in picturesque B&Bs sequestered in the mountains of the Western Galilee, we were not disappointed.
The Dan Carmel
After renting a car in Jerusalem, we hit the highway and headed for Haifa to start our sojourn in style. The elegant ﬁve-star Dan Carmel is perched atop a picturesque hill with stunning views of Haifa’s harbor, the Carmel region, the Galilee and the Mediterranean Sea.
The Dan Hotel chain dates back to 1947, when brothers Yekutiel and Shmuel Federmann purchased a 21-room guest house called the Kaete Dan on Tel Aviv’s shoreline. Since then, it has become the largest luxury-hotel group in Israel, with 14 hotels across the country.
The Dan Carmel may be among the chain’s crown jewels.
Fully renovated last year, it features 224 rooms, panoramic views and easy access to Haifa’s vibrant cultural scene.
Upon being welcomed by a warm staff, we were escorted to our suite on the eighth ﬂoor, which far exceeded our expectations.
The room was elegantly designed and meticulously appointed with a king-size bed, large-screen LCD television, oak bureau, desk, private balcony with panoramic views and a luxurious marble bathroom that included a Jacuzzi and glass-enclosed shower.
Hotel guests have access to the chic Palache Bar in the lobby, the Gan Dan Room, which offers snacks and beverages late into the night, a ﬁtness center, an outdoor swimming pool (during the warmer months), full-service spa, business center featuring conference rooms, and breakfast and dinner buffets.
Furthermore, just steps outside the Dan Carmel’s doors are world-class museums, parks, shops and ﬁne restaurants.
Indeed, Haifa, the third-largest city in Israel, is considered by many to be the cultural epicenter of the North.
The city has more than a dozen museums nearby, such as the world-famous Israel National Museum of Science, Technology, and Space; the Haifa Museum of Art; and the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art , the only museum in the Middle East dedicated to Japanese art.
Compounded with nearby Mount Carmel National Park, the spectacular Bahai Gardens and dozens of alluring restaurants, the Dan Carmel is more than elegant and luxurious – it is a gateway to the arts, ﬁne dining and nature.
Dan Carmel, 85-87 Sderot Hanassi, Haifa. (04) 830-3030, www.danhotels.com
The Indigo B&B can best be described as “fairytale-like.”
Located in Mitzpe Abirim on a mountaintop and surrounded by evergreens and beautiful brooks and streams, our two-level, Mediterranean-style guest house made us feel as if we were in a Disney ﬁlm.
And it didn’t hurt that it was equipped with a wood-burning ﬁreplace, windows overlooking the surrounding mountains and sea, an enormous Jacuzzi, a patio, country-style kitchen, home-theater system and a comfortable bed that awaited us in a charming loft upstairs.
All the rooms are decorated in a tasteful, bucolic fashion, with walls adorned in colorful yet soothing romantic tones. To our delight, our guest house also featured a rooftop balcony with spectacular views.
The following morning, our host and co-owner Ella Yungman delivered a spectacular country breakfast to our door, featuring olive-oil rolls, cheeses, homemade jams, warm pastries, fresh fruits and vegetables straight from the garden.
Yungman, an architect who also spearheads a number of area projects promoting the Western Galilee’s culture and tourism, operates Indigo with her husband, Pablo, who runs a local theater called Zikit. Warm, gracious and accommodating, the Yungmans could not have been more kind and hospitable.
Ella and Pablo Yungman, Indigo B&B, 050-486-3055.
For dinner, we ate at the nearby Aluma Restaurant in the Arab village of Tarshiha in the Western Galilee. Aluma has a seasonal menu of reasonably priced Jewish and Arab cuisine featuring local produce prepared by head chef Dari Ben-Nabat . Owned and operated by Alaa Sweetart , the restaurant offers a romantic, candle-lit experience, seating for about 40, an impressive region ally produced wine list (by the glass or bottle) and a friendly staff.
After nibbling on fresh- baked bread dipped in olive oil and sipping an excellent red wine produced in the Galilee, we reserved several courses of small portions to sample Aluma’s delicious and extensive menu .
We started with mouth-watering appetizers , followed by a huge selection of me at , ﬁsh and sea food .
For dessert , we savored the dark chocolate praline and ktayef (traditional pancakes) stuffed with pecan syrup, capping a symphony of a meal.
Aluma. Not kosher. Hours: Sunday to Thursday 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Tel: (04) 957-4477.
Meshek Hefer (horseback riding and goat cheese farm)
After checking out of Indigo the fol lowing morning , we met local horse trainer and goat cheese connoisseur Eyal Hefer who, with his wife, Edna , owns and operates a stable of horses for guided tours, impressive goat-cheese farm and coffee shop in the small village of Mitzpe Abirim .
A master horse man, Hefer also specializes in running therapeutic horseback riding workshops for individuals, groups, companies and organizations.
He took us on a beautiful trail a long the mountain side, atop his well- trained horses .
After our ride, he introduced us to the well- tended family of goats responsible for producing the award -winning cheeses and yogurts made by Edna . We then enjoyed a rich variety of the cheeses with crackers and wine.
Eyal and Edna Hefer, Meshek Hefer, Mitzpe Abirim, 052-5832532 http://makombalev.com
You & Me B&B
You and Me, the aptly named ﬁnal destination on our romantic journey, ended our trip in true style. Owned and operated by husband - and -wife team of Mirale and Yuval Telemin Mitzpe Matat , You & Me offers far more than your typical B&B .
Indeed, Yuval, an internationally celebrated blacksmith whose work is displayed throughout the country, a swell as in his private gallery on the premises, frequently teaches popular work shops in his near by iron studio, attracting men, women and children of all ages . Mirale, a gifted chef, runs the adjacent Rushka Café, which offers full-course meals , a well-stocked bar and delicious pastries .
Following a brief tour of Yuval’s collect ion of iron-inspired sculptures, Mirale prepared a delicious home cooked meal for us , which included quiche , soup, salad , salmon and fresh-baked bread .
For dessert, she delighted us with a sumptuous chocolate mousse and white chocolate cheesecake.
After dinner with the congenial couple, we were escorted to their nearby guesthouse, which took our breath away.
Featuring two spacious rooms and a fully stocked kitchen, ﬁre place, large Jacuzzi, dozens of romantic candles and four terraces with expansive views , by any standard , the Telems offer a world - class B&B .
Add to that a big- screen TV with cable, an impressive DVD collection, a cozy sofa , an enormous bed adjacent to the hot tub and a stylish, rustic interior featuring many of Yuval’s sculptures.
The next morning, Mirale brought us an extraordinary home - cooked breakfast in a basket, which included omelets, fresh bread, jams, cheeses and fresh- squeezed orange juice.
Mirale and Yuval Telem, You & Me B&B, 054-4371414/5, www.hapisga.co.il/site/64
The writer was a guest of the places mentioned.