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The Levee Hotel.(Photo by: Courtesy)
The Levee – a new concept in hospitality
By ARIEH O’SULLIVAN
05/12/2019
It’s actually much more groundbreaking than that. It’s a new concept in hospitality.
I guess you could say this unique boutique hotel/Airbnb is off a side street on the borders between funky Rothschild Boulevard, artsy Neveh Tzedek and south Tel Aviv, situated in a house built at the turn of the century (1913) and its best feature is its location.

Or that apartments are a luxurious 140-280 sq.m. with porches front and back, furnished in designer furniture and 400-thread Egyptian cotton towels and Milton Brown accessories, dripping in modern art and brutalist exposed concrete interiors.

Or that each of its eight “rooms” for rent have massive salons (ours with an exquisite, Italian-made teal Baxter leather button couch) and open kitchens to host even the most discreet guests in the style they have been accustomed to.

But that would be superficial.

It’s actually much more groundbreaking than that. It’s a new concept in hospitality.

The Levee Hotel is located at 16 Yehuda Halevi Street. Originally called the Gurevitch House, it was one of the original homes in Ahuzat Bayit, the original founders of Tel Aviv who joined another 59 Zionist pioneer families in 1909 to buy the first plots in the sand dunes that would become Tel Aviv. It was/is of neoclassical style, two stories with large shuttered windows and iron railing porches.

Fast forward a century, and the owner added three cubic, metal-clad floors and a back extension, and turned it into eight luxury apartments. But instead of selling them, he decided to make it into a boutique hotel.

“In the middle of the renovations, he changed his mind,” says Golan Tambor, the CEO.  “Everyone wants to be part of the hospitality business, and he said ‘let’s do something outrageous.’ He’s always thinking outside of the box. ‘Let’s do it a different way.’”

And that concept is, in Tambor’s words: “Very high end, fully serviced apartments.”

“That’s the thing. We are not a hotel. We are not an Airbnb. We are in a category that is not there yet,” he says.

Okay, it’s pricey. A night in the regular rooms goes for about $950 a night, three-night minimum. Our apartment had a front porch where you can watch the urbanites and the huge back master bedroom also opened to a porch, but this one overlooks the current excavations for Tel Aviv’s light rail. Close the door, it seals out the noise.

And the penthouse. That’s a 280 sq.m., two-story affair with loads of rooms, including a room for the nanny, with top floor wrap around a terrace and Jacuzzi, of course, giving you a view of the sea and central Tel Aviv. It goes for $7,000 a night (Also three-night minimum, but some have even taken it for three weeks already).

“The location sells itself,” says the CEO. “We are offering the pampering you get at a hotel, but we are also offering something that the hotels don’t have, and that is space. And privacy. Lots and lots of privacy. We don’t even have one camera in the building.”

He says this is the perfect place for discreet business and other meetings. The clientele? High-end tourists, used to a different level of standard not offered by the hotels.

“There are the natural clients who are the Americans, the British, the French, the Russians and Italians. But you are going to be surprised. We had a few Chinese businesspeople who came here to close a high profile deal. People who need the space,” Tambor says, demonstrating how with the flip of a switch, all the window blinds can be lowered.

 

GENERAL MANAGER Hadar Ben-Dov walks in smiling with a beautiful bouquet of fresh flowers for out room. The Levee is currently wrapping up its “soft opening.”

So with all this room, the question is: Can you bring over friends and have them spend the night?

Tambor is careful with his words.

“Whatever you booked, that’s who you can have sleep over, but if you have people over, well… we want you to feel at home, we want you to feel comfortable. We want you to feel like this is your base, so that the next time you are going to come, you are going to come to us, because this is where you feel like home,” he says. “I’ll tell you a secret. We have a storage room for our clients. We have a locker room for guests who come often.”

It’s clear that once the word gets out, this place, the Levee, will be very much in demand… for a certain clientele.

“There is no project in Tel Aviv like this today. I am sure that once everyone sees how we are thinking outside the box, I am sure, like every good Jewish idea, there will be duplicates,” Tambor says.

Let’s face it; this is a place for oligarchs, Chinese diamond merchants and rock stars. If you are one of these, or a wannabe, this is the place for you.

Its drawbacks: Not a hotel, so no dining room, but the management will invite a chef at your whim. No helipad, but there is parking. It’s really nothing but a great apartment with warm wooden floors, design-savvy accessories and signature furnishings from Moroso, Paola Lenti and Baxter, etc. with total room service.

They have six staff for eight rooms. Not a bad ratio.

What I liked best about the Levee is its location. We walked to the best restaurants and strolled down the boulevards.

“This whole building is for people who understand quality and service,” says Tambor. Every client who leaves this house in the end will say ‘Wow, this is my next home in Tel Aviv.”

The writer was a guest of the hotel.

The owner of the Levee wishes to remain anonymous.

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