At the end of June, after months of staying in Jerusalem due to COVID-19, my friend drove me to Tel Aviv to spend the night at a boutique hotel named Tal by the Beach. It was her birthday, and we were really looking forward to relaxing near the ocean.
We pushed the intercom button to the hotel parking and the gate opened to let us drive in and take the last spot in the small lot. With masks on, we then went up by the elevator (which had a gel sanitizer device in the corner) to check in.
The friendly young woman behind the desk took our temperatures and checked us in, after which we went up to the eighth floor to our suite on the corner. The room was welcoming, clean and luxurious, with a wonderful view of the city’s famous Metzitzim Beach, where Uri Zohar directed his comedy cult film starring Arik Einstein in 1972.
Each room is decorated in a modern style with wooden floors, air conditioning, and a private bathroom. Rooms feature LCD TV with international channels, free Wi-Fi, a fridge with cold drinks and a tea/coffee maker. My friend especially liked the shades in the bathroom that closed automatically, and the shower was really good (which for me, is more important than anything else).
After admiring the view for a while and taking photographs, we went up to the rooftop deck – where we found another spectacular view of the Tel Aviv beachfront, deck chairs and a bar – but, to our disappointment, there was no swimming pool.
So we did the next best thing, and went for a walk to the beach, and then across the Tel Aviv Port promenade. It was comforting to see that most people were wearing masks, but a little disheartening to notice that the stores in the port area were mostly empty, and I wondered how many would stay in business.
Then we returned to our hotel, where work kept me busy for a couple of hours while my friend caught some sun on the deck.
Tal by the Beach, which is owned by Atlas Hotels (Israel’s leading boutique hotel group), reopened on June 9, and adheres strictly to the Health Ministry’s coronavirus regulations. Newly renovated, it advertises itself as “the ultimate location for those seeking the most fun from the White City.”
“COMBINING UPSCALE style and design, the beautiful property offers guests a superb Israeli buffet breakfast, in addition to lunch and dinner options, a range of seminar halls, a breezy rooftop and also a gym and sauna,” its website boasts.
It has 123 elegant rooms, ranging in price from NIS 450 (for a room only) to NIS 1,300 per night (on a weekend, including breakfast and dinner.) On the night we were there, there was a wedding and it was quite busy. The desk clerk told me that during the weekend it fills up, but during the week about 25 rooms are occupied.
That night, we walked a few minutes down Ben-Yehuda to Nini Hachi, a kosher restaurant that has exotic cocktails, superb sushi and highly recommended Asian-fusion dishes. Diners were very good about maintaining social distancing, and the waitresses – all wearing masks – were delightful.
After a walk to the beach (where it seems to have become very trendy to sit on deck chairs at night), we returned to the hotel and chatted with the friendly young man behind the desk, who happened to be a new immigrant from the US.
He told us that after seven months in the country, he loved it here and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else in the world, especially during the corona pandemic. We could not but agree.
The bed was comfortable, and we slept well after watching TV for a bit. In the morning, the breakfast was healthy and varied, featuring a range of interesting dishes from chia seed yogurt to spinach shakshuka, breads, crackers and a plate of cheeses and fresh summer fruit. The waitresses, again all wearing masks, were attentive and friendly, and the strong coffee hit the spot.
After breakfast, we went for a long walk on the beachfront, which was not too crowded, and then cut through to 26 Gordon Street, which has a fantastic exhibition called Portrait of a Woman, displaying handmade baskets, textile items and even corona masks made by some 300 Kuchinate African women refugees living in south Tel Aviv. The exhibition features photographs of 14 of the women and a beautiful colored quilt above a basket with a bag that reads, “We were all refugees once.”
We walked back to the hotel via Dizengoff, which is slowly coming back to life, and checked out of the hotel at noon, as required, feeling like we had experienced a delightful taste of Tel Aviv. Tal by the Beach is definitely worth a visit!The writer was a guest of the hotel.