The Plum Guide comes to Tel Aviv

THE SAM&BLONDI Hotel in Tel Aviv has been recently renovated.  (photo credit: ASAF PINTZUK/LIOR AVITAN)
THE SAM&BLONDI Hotel in Tel Aviv has been recently renovated.
If you’re looking for a quality Airbnb but are worried that what you see on the Internet may be far from reality, then The Plum Guide may be just for you. It’ll save you time, heartache and money. At least that’s what they’d probably want me to write here. I had to find out for myself about this addition to Tel Aviv’s hospitality landscape. The Plum Guide is a short-term booking platform – a self-proclaimed “Michelin Guide for Homes” – that sets itself from the others by selecting and offering only the top 1% of properties in its select cities.
Since it appeared in 2015, it has experienced explosive growth to include 10 of the world’s coolest cities, including San Francisco, New York, London, Paris, Berlin – and as of this summer, Tel Aviv. “The ambition of The Plum Guide is to create a shop front – a market place for the world’s best holiday homes,” said Doron Meyassed, an Israeli-British entrepreneur in a telephone interview from London.
“It sounds like a tag line or a market line, but it is not. Our goal is to come to a city and within 18 months vet every single home available in that city for short-term rentals and accept the top 1%.”
The Plum Guide claims to take away all the doubt after not only selecting the top properties in Tel Aviv, but vetting them before featuring them on their site. The Plum Guide isn’t just for expensive luxury properties, but for top homes in every key price point, Meyassed said.
“We measure 500 things about the home, ranging from the shower pressure, the WIFI speed, the mattresses the decibel levels. If it has a volume above 40 decibels it doesn’t get through.”
But he says his property evaluators are looking for more than just the physical. “We look for homes with emotive beautiful design. We look for homes with ‘superpowers.’ We say that every home has to have at least one thing about it that creates a peak experience in your stay. It may be a beautiful balcony or great living room or an amazing book collection, something along those lines,” Meyassed said.
THE PLUM Guide grew out of a drive from a passionate and growing fan base of people whom Meyassed describes as “culture vultures” from “mega-cities.”
“They tend to be aged 35-55. They are typically into design and quality, culture vultures. They like to travel,” he said.
He describes two of the biggest problems people face when seeking to book an Airbnb: risk of disappointment and the unbearable booking experience.
“We have very few holiday days. They are such meaningful moments to spend with our families and friends. It is so often that we get it wrong. The number one need is to know that what you see is what you get, has been inspected and there is no chance of getting it wrong,” he said.
Secondly, when booking, you toil over filtering through reviews, etcetera and that takes time.
“We are trying to take an expert approach and choose the best homes in the city and then provide it in a very easy digestible format for the customer to make that final decision,” Meyassed said.
Tel Aviv has a reputation of being an expensive city, particularly for tourists who stay in hotels. Mark Feldman, the CEO of Ziontours, says that the hotels are aggressive in making sure their prices remain high. Even the boutique hotels, of which Israel has a plethora, are also kept high, he said. But then Airbnb happened.
“There the market is extremely competitive,” Feldman said “We have quite a lot and the prices are much cheaper and people are voting with their tushes and are sleeping at Airbnbs rather than paying outrageous prices in the hotels.”
ENTER THE Plum Guide. Meyassed said that after flourishing in the top cities of the world, the demand was ripe to start in Tel Aviv. “The big driver for the decision is we are simply following our customers,” he said. “We are permanently monitoring what are the big trending destinations for these urban creatives. Tel Aviv is an incredibly fast-rising popular destination for this group. It is starting to rival places like New York and London, Paris and Milan. It is a real hub for our customers,” he claimed.
So what’s in it for an owner of an Airbnb to be included in The Plum Guide? Meyassed said it increases their revenues dramatically. He said that having a “Plum Star” is becoming a brand and that also boosts their bookings on other platforms.
The Plum Guide started offering properties this summer and hopes that within 18 months they will have completed their vetting process and offer some 500 properties, (1% of the market) “One of my favorite things about our collection in Tel Aviv is the creativity of these home owners. A lot of the buildings in Tel Aviv are not historic beautiful buildings. There are a handful of those, and people are managing to turn buildings built in quite a rush in to beautiful, soulful places,” Meyassed said.
WITH ALL this hype, I had to check it out. I was offered a few amazing places and chose The Star-Crossed Lovers – a really cool, restored single family home in the urber-trendy Neve Tzedek neighborhood of Tel Aviv.
Not much from the outside, but enter and it’s a sunny, intimate getaway with concrete floors and delicate floor-to-ceiling windows that separate the bedroom from the spacious living room, all surrounding a private patio.
The bathroom was behind a hidden door that matched the wall of cupboards. The fridge was filled with complimentary champagne, San Benedetto water, orange juice, bread and jam.
It was clear a lot of effort was put into the interior design, from the Bauhaus-style chairs, to the sleek bar and funky lights and colorful original art.
The “A house,” as it is also called, was special, too, because of its prime location in Neve Tzedek. Liza & Martin, the property managers, have done a lot of the legwork and provide a list of what to do and places to eat and drink for guests. My favorite part was coming back (I won’t say the exact hour I dragged myself in from a night on the town) and relaxing in the romantically lit private patio gazing at the Mediterranean stars.
So, will and when The Plum Guide expand to, say, Jerusalem?
“We very much would like to do that. At the moment we are very focused on Tel Aviv, but obviously a contender after that is Jerusalem and I would be surprised if we don’t make a move there soon after Tel Aviv,” Meyassed said.
The author was a guest of The Plum Guide.