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Saturday, 01 March 2014 00:00

What’s New in Tel Aviv & Jerusalem

Written by  Monique Burns

Africa-Israel

Blending the hip and the historic, Israel constantly reinvents itself. In Jerusalem, new luxury hotels-including the country’s first Waldorf Astoria-are joining family-friendly attractions like The First Station, a stylish restaurant-and-entertainment complex in a restored Ottoman-era rail station. Along the coast, in and around high-energy Tel Aviv, discover another vintage train station, with hip restaurants and shops, plus the new Ritz-Carlton Herzliya, and trendy boutique hotels nestled in the White City’s 1930s Bauhaus buildings and ancient stone manors.

Jazzing Up Jerusalem
All roads lead to Jerusalem with storied attractions like the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and the Dome of the Rock. These days, the talk of the town is The First Station (www.firststation.co.il), with restaurants and shops in Jerusalem’s restored 1892 train station, steps from the 19th-century German Colony, with Germanic houses built from Jerusalem’s golden stone.
At the Visitor’s Center, arrange guided tours on foot, or by Segway or electronic bike. Inside the station, enjoy seven restaurants, including the Adom Restaurant & Wine Bar for Italian, French and seafood dishes, Landwer Café for Italian-Mediterranean cuisine, The Culinary Bazaar, a kosher covered market, and Fresh Kitchen for healthy choices.
Rotating bazaars keep The First Station eternally fresh. On Mondays, A Matter of Design sells handmade glass, paper, clay and gold items by top local artisans. On Thursday and Fridays, visit the Farmer’s Market at the Station (for organic fruits, vegetables, cheeses and breads) and D Station Urban Fashion (for trendy clothing, shoes and jewelry). Kid Space offers daily activities for children. Events like sing-alongs, concerts and dance parties round out the fun.
Train Track Park, modeled on Manhattan’s High Line park, follows the station’s old rail lines south through an intriguing cross section of neighborhoods to the bucolic Jerusalem hills. The four-mile park features tree-lined pedestrian, bike and jogging paths adorned with preserved railroad signs and poles.
In Jerusalem’s center, recently opened Teddy Park (www.jerusalemfoundation.com), named after late longtime mayor Teddy Kollek, has landscaped squares, paths and waterways donated by prominent Jewish families like the Federmanns, who opened Israel’s Dan Hotels in 1947. The centerpiece is the Sylvia Hassenfeld Family Fountain, a grid of 256 water jets and 1,800 light fixtures, where a free sound-light-water show is held twice nightly. During the day, children in bathing suits dart through the water jets.
There are several options within the Dan Hotels portfolio in Jerusalem. The Dan King David is a true classic, built in 1920 and offering incredible views of the walls, minarets and domes of the old city. Other options are the Dan Jerusalem, the Dan Panorama Jerusalem and the Dan Boutique Hotel. New CEO, Raffi Sadeh, promises to ensure the very best hospitality experience for all guests, including free wifi in the 14 Dan Hotels throughout Israel.   
This spring, the 226-room Waldorf Astoria Jerusalem (www.waldorfastoria.hilton.com) debuts in a graceful 1930s landmark with two lavish spas, an art-filled lounge, and The Palace, an elegant restaurant for locally sourced Mediterranean cuisine.
For an intimate experience, consider Alegra Hotel (www.hotelalegra.co.il) in Ein Kerem, a village on Jerusalem’s southwest fringe surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. Though his passion was forbidden, an Arab-Christian built the 1920s Ottoman-style stone house for the love of his life, Alegra Bella, a Jewish girl he later married. Seven sumptuous suites, in blacks, whites and dark woods, are named after famous lovers who also endured hardships like Lancelot and Guinevere, and Heloise and Abelard. Surrounded by an orchard, are an outdoor lounge, steam room and splash pool.  

The Talk of Tel Aviv
With new hot spots like Africa, the Imperial Craft Cocktail Bar and Main Bazaar, Tel Aviv nightlife keeps going strong. To keep visitors plugged in, the Tel Aviv-Yafo Municipality recently installed 60 Wi-Fi hot spots (http://gisn.tel-aviv.gov.il) throughout the city.
Like Jerusalem, Tel Aviv has rediscovered its vintage train station. At The Tachana (www.hatachana.co.il), opened as a rail station in 1892 and reopened in 2010 as an entertainment venue, there are eight new restaurants-including Vicky Cristina tapas and wine bar-along with ice-cream shops, bars and coffee houses. Shops include Made in TLV and SOHO 100% Design Shop, both stocked with innovative items by local designers.
Visitors awaiting the December 2015 opening of the W Hotel (www.starwoodhotels.com) can check into two new luxury properties now. At the 228-room Royal Beach Tel Aviv (www.isrotel.com) on Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv’s glitzy Mediterranean hotel strip, enjoy elegant kosher-Mediterranean dining at West Side or luxuriate in the extensive spa.
Just 15 minutes’ drive north of Tel Aviv, overlooking a yacht-filled marina in tony seaside Herzliya, the 197-room Ritz-Carlton Herzliya (www.ritzcarlton.com), opened in December 2013, and includes a branch of Tel Aviv’s Herbert Samuel restaurant where Chef Yonatan Roshfeld prepares trend-setting kosher-Mediterranean specialties.
Since the Hotel Montefiore (www.hotelmontefiore.co.il) debuted about four years ago, there’s been a spate of elegant boutique hotels in Tel Aviv. Now also on Montefiore Street, between the Bauhaus landmarks of Rothschild Boulevard and the boutiques of Neve Tzedek, 11-room AL Hotel (www.altlv.com) charms with clubby light and dark wood decor, a stylish lounge where breakfast, light meals and Israeli wines are served, and a lush garden patio, all a six-minute stroll from the Mediterranean.
In a 1925 landmark, the Alma Hotel (www.almahotel.co.il) features eight rooms and seven balconied junior suites done up in brightly colored and mirrored bohemian chic, and baths with walk-in showers or deep soaking tubs. Overseen by star chef Yonatan Roshfeld, the Alma Lounge serves up breakfast, weekend brunch and 24-hour room service. Guests also can stroll to Tapas 1 Ha’am for Catalonian-style nibbles or take a cab to Herbert Samuel, both owned, like the hotel, by brother-sister team Adi and Irit Strauss.
In a restored bank building, five minutes’ walk from the beach, chic Brown TLV Urban Hotel (www.browntlv.com) has 30 rooms in shades of tans and browns with sumptuous black-marble baths. There’s also a book-lined lobby “living room,” a rooftop solarium, and popular indoor-outdoor Brown
Cocktail Lounge.
For flights to Israel, contact El Al Airlines, at www.elal.com  Visit www.goisrael.com 

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