One of the joys of walking around central Tel Aviv is to the city’s respect for history.
To a Jerusalemite who cringes every time a real estate developer destroys a building dating back to early 20th or late 19th century, it is sheer bliss to wander through what was Tel Aviv prior to the urban sprawl.
Bearing in mind that Tel Aviv was established in 1909, it is a delight to see the many buildings designated for preservation which have been beautifully restored.
Many such buildings are apartment blocs, sometimes with shops and restaurants on the ground floor. Others have been converted into boutique hotels, which are part of a growing trend all over Israel.
Among the relatively new boutique hotels in Tel Aviv is the Renoma, which in its original incarnation was known as the house of the arches in keeping with its striking three-story multi-arched façade dating back to the 1930s.
Rising up behind it is a totally modern apartment tower, which is an integrated yet separate apartment complex, the interior design of which is almost identical to that of the hotel.
All the tenants renting apartments can avail themselves of the hotel’s various services, one of the most welcome of which is the robotic valet service, which brings your car into the building, leading to an underground parking area, which the driver and passengers do not enter. They simply exit the car in the doorway to the parking bay, and the robot takes care of the rest. When they want to use the car again, the robot brings it back.
Hotels, like anything else related to real estate, are location oriented. Most are built within easy walking distance of public transport, shops, historic sites, museums – and in the case of Tel Aviv, the beach.
The total Renoma complex of hotel and apartments is situated on the corner of Trumpeldor and Hayarkon streets, literally a hop, skip and a jump from Ben-Yehuda Street, where there are buses to all over Tel Aviv and neighboring cities, a bus to the train station, a multiple-hire taxi (sherut) and regular taxis. The colorful Carmel Market is less than a ten-minutes’ walk away.
Despite the number of tall buildings in the immediate vicinity, and the fact that Trumpeldor is not a particularly wide street, Renoma is suffused with light – well not exactly in the small reception area or the corridors leading to the guest rooms, but once inside the room it is amazing to see the extent to which natural daylight makes an impact.
The $700-a-night suite that was assigned to me has been furnished with large overhead lamps, standing lamps and very bright bed lamps to allow for plenty of light once the sun goes down.
In most of the larger, well-known beachfront hotels, the uniformed staff, though often amicable, exude an air of formality by virtue of their attire. Not so at Renoma where just about everyone including the super friendly owner Michael Rottenberg, opted for jeans and sweatshirts.
Rottenberg is the vice president of Acropolis Ventures, a contracting company which has projects in Israel and Latin America.
The suite included what looked like a kitchenette, but without a stove or sink. But it did have a coffee maker, electric jug, an exquisite white tea and coffee set, a tray with a bottle of kosher Israeli wine, a bottle of Italian mineral water, and a small package of Belgian chocolates.
A very large, ultra-modern television screen was on the wall, and came equipped with a remote control for technological dummies like yours truly. I can seldom get the television in any hotel, be it in Israel or abroad, to work properly. At best, I can get the hotel’s own commercial. But here, I had no problem getting local and international channels. It was almost like winning the lottery.
On a writing table near the entrance to the balcony was a brass clip holding the business cards of 20 Tel Aviv eateries – not a single one of which was kosher.
When this was pointed out to Rottenberg, he admitted that he hadn’t thought about it, but said that he would add the business cards of several kosher restaurants.
I also discovered that the coffee shop downstairs was likewise not kosher. So I googled “kosher Tel Aviv,” but the list was not very long, and none of the places listed were in the immediate vicinity.
But as the Carmel Market was not that far away, I decided to walk in that direction in the hope that something kosher would materialize. I actually missed a French kosher dairy restaurant in one of the side streets, which I discovered the following morning, only because it was the day of the Tel Aviv Marathon and I had to walk most of the way to the Central Bus Station before I was able to get a taxi.
Walking all the way through the market on the day that I arrived in Tel Aviv, I didn’t see any restaurant with kosher certification, so simply kept going till I reached Ahad Ha’am Street, and came across L’Entrecote, which is under Yore De’ah Badatz kashrut supervision. It would have been tempting to eat the entrecôte steak for which this restaurant is highly reputed, but there were also lamb chops on the menu, and my Australian palate was already salivating at the thought.
Most restaurants will serve between one and three chops, but usually stop at two. L’Entrecote served five on a bed of gnocchi flavored with a tasty sauce, but it was difficult to discern exactly what it was because it was sandwiched under the very meaty chops. The meal cost NIS 143 and was worth every shekel.
Walking through side streets on the way back, it was interesting to see how many hotels there are in renovated buildings. Tel Aviv is definitely a hotel city ranging all the way from inexpensive hostels and small boutique hotels to very tall towers.
There was no bath in the suite, just a very long wall-to-wall shower stall which had both an overhead shower and a handheld shower, each with strong water pressure.
The large, double bed had six pillows in three different sizes to suit the sleeping habits of different guests, the mattress was thick and comfortable and the bed linen was pristine white.
Taking it for granted that guests would go to the beach, there is a basket that contains a tote bag, two towels and two bottles of water. It’s a nice considerate touch.
The overall color scheme throughout the hotel is black, white, silver, gray and turquoise.
The hotel is named for French trend-setting fashion designer and photographer Maurice Renoma, who rose to fame in the 1960s by defying conservative fashion conventions. He designed the interior of the hotel and the apartment complex. His impressive black and white photographs hang in every corridor and on the walls of the suites. His signature appears on the furniture, on the photographs and just about everywhere. In addition, there are books with his biography and his fashion designs in every suite. It’s sufficiently over the top but, according to Rottenberg, most guests actually like it, and he personally doesn’t see anything wrong with it.
Rottenberg’s father is a photographer in addition to being an international businessman. He met Renoma when they were both photographing in South America. The relationship clicked with the upshot that Renoma was invited to design the interior of the project on the Tel Aviv beachfront.
Rottenberg took me to see the apartment complex, which is really gorgeous. The apartments have two bedrooms, a nicely furnished balcony area, plus lounge-dining, and a fully equipped kitchen with a family-size refrigerator, a stove and a sink. Here too, the apartment is full of light.
Reservations for Eurovision have already begun to arrive and if the hotel is full, two couples or four friends could easily rent one of the apartments for the duration and maybe even longer.The writer was a guest of the hotel.
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