Despite its young age, The Norman Tel Aviv, a five-star hotel in the heart of Tel Aviv, has already made its mark as one of the city’s Grand Dames.
It all sits inside two listed buildings, expertly restored and joined together by a buzzy, well-heeled citrus garden and flashy terrace. There’s a whiff of the Provençal, of the art-nouveau and of grand old Hollywood (no surprise seeing that the owner’s late father was filmmaker Norman Lourie).
Think of it as a touching familial, stylish nod to him and all his theatrics: rooms filled with melodic sculptures; walls full of contemporary Israeli art and the odd bit of movie memorabilia.
Elsewhere, there’s a giddy spa with private wellness terrace, and the Instagram “moment” comes courtesy of the umbrella-flecked rooftop pool (city panoramas included).
The hotel is perched in the center of all the action, too. The electric buzz of Rothschild Boulevard is two blocks away. Continue 15 minutes down the road and you’ll hit the trendy, somewhat kitsch and super shoppable Neve Tzedek neighborhood. Jaffa? A short taxi ride away, along with some of the city’s best beaches.
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The digs are chic and elegant. There’s nothing remotely showy or overtly in your face. Instead, the rooms and suites offer up a dose of mid-century suave set to the tune of a non-offensive pastel-colored palette.
In terms of size, some can be a squeeze, but there’s a Disney charm to this cocoon-festooned style luxe that makes you feel extra snug between the sheets. Speaking of, the uber comfortable bed is a triumph, as are the plush pillows and Frette linens.
Bathroom? Ours was small and made getting ready somewhat of a chore in a tight space, but the faultless lighting (especially the back-lit mirror) made up for it. All come with bespoke Norman toiletries, rain showers and if you are in a suite, free-standing bathtubs.
All the grub action currently takes place on the ground floor in the very intimate, date night-ready Alena. Menus are overseen by chef Omer Shadmi Muller and Daniel Zur whose interpretations of Galilean/Mediterranean fare please the tastebuds.
There is a lot on offer, but we gorged on all the pasta (anything with a red sauce is just lush as is the classic cacio e pepe), a plate of calamari and shrimps, plus, if your belly can handle it, some rather fine Gillardeau oysters.
Booze? Down it all in the vintage Library Bar, one of the city’s most glam and coveted cocktail hangouts. Aperitifs come with complimentary snacks during the week, and there’s the odd dash of music to set the mood. There’s also London export Dinings up on the top floor, but it was closed during our visit. Expect Instagram-approved Japanese nosh with a kick.
Hit up Jaffa for a dose of culture. The flea market is your one stop shop for local nick-nacks, from old movie cameras to vintage furniture galore.
Elsewhere, the steps leading down to St Peter’s Church provide plenty of photo opportunities, and Neve Tzedek (a sort of nearby village within the city) is a great place to snare out fashion and art steals from all the glitzy boutiques often featured in the world’s big fash mags.
Must eats? Abu Hassan for hummus; HaKosem for falafel; and Levinsky Burekas for burekas (a salty pastry made of thin, flaky dough filled with cheese).
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