These Are The 3 Most Creative And Luxurious Hotels In Israel

There is no place in the world like Israel. Although the country is relatively small—it’s roughly the same size as the state of New Jersey—its global and historical impact is tremendous. Israel’s unique location, on the borders of Asia, Africa, and Europe, have made it an essential destination since the beginning of time. Like a glittering jewel that shines from a million facets, Israel has many distinct aspects. It is a place of deep religious faith where devout Muslims, Jews, and Christians perform prayer ceremonies throughout the day. It is a place of intense, complicated politics, but also one with a vibrant, thriving nightlife and an innovative art scene. This diversity translates into a dizzying array of enticing pursuits for the jet-setter.

Photo Credit: Assaf Pinchuk

Embark on a spiritual journey that follows in the footsteps of Jesus or Jewish pilgrims. Sunbath on the pristine beaches of the Mediterranean. Experience the wellness benefits of the Dead Sea’s mineral-rich mud and salty soothing waters. Sip wine made from old vines in Galilee, hike through ancient ruins in the Negev desert, devour delicious hummus in Haifa, or wander the stunning museums in Tel Aviv. Whatever you decide to do, make sure that you book a room in one of the country’s most creative and luxurious places—hotels like Efendi, The Setai Sea of Galilee, or The Setai Tel Aviv. 

Efendi Hotel is located in Northern Israel in Acre, a coastal city on the Mediterranean Sea that is 5,300 years old. The 12-room hotel, which opened seven years ago, was originally two neighboring Ottoman-era palatial mansions. A famed local chef Uri Jeremias purchased the run-down homes and painstakingly renovated them, restoring Byzantine details like intricate ceiling frescos. He combined the two houses into one building and successfully transformed them into a luxe boutique lodging complete with Turkish hammam and rooftop cocktail bar. 

Efendi Hotel in Acco (Acre) Israel

Photo Credit: Assaf Pinchuk

Although it’s a somewhat new hotel, everything about Efendi is steeped in fascinating history. The property’s wine cellar is made with 1,500-year-old bricks from the Byzantine era of Akko. The foundation of the lobby dates back 900 years to the Crusader era, and the restored walls throughout are over 400 years old. Artwork from two modern Israeli artists, Bianca Severijns and Maya Cohen Levy, provides a contemporary counterpoint to the age-old structure. No room is the same, but most offer gorgeous views that vary from the sparkling sea to the ancient city’s skyline. The rooms are spread out over three levels with four rooms on each floor that share a grand central salon. Egyptian linens, marble bathrooms, and wildly comfortable king-size beds with plush goose down pillows are featured in all of the rooms. 

Efendi Hotel in Acco (Acre) Israel

Photo Credit: Assaf Pinchuk

Guests are invited to Efendi’s spa and hammam, which offers couple treatments and a traditional Turkish bath ritual. This super relaxing hammam experience is for softening and cleansing the skin and takes place in a marble room. Hammam goers relax on a warm marble platform while indulging in a body peel, scrub, and massage. Hot and cold water is sprinkled on the body during the treatment, a method that is meant to release toxins and calm the mind. The spa’s other offerings are more common. Think Swedish, Thai, or hot stone massages, but equally as revitalizing. 

No stay at Efendi is complete without a visit to Jeremias’ iconic restaurant, Uri Buri. The 30-year old institution is a five-minute walk from the hotel and is known for sensational seafood. With a long grey beard and welcoming smile, Jeremias is a local legend whose culinary style is minimalist. He prefers to let the flavor of super fresh fish shine. Diners can look forward to delicate salmon fillets, rich sauteed scallops, and plump poached octopus. 

Inside famous Uri Buri restaurant in Acco (Acre), Israel

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Uri Buri

The Setai Sea of Galilee is also located in Northern Israel, but it is next to the eastern shore of “Kinneret” lake. With 158 villas that overlook the pastoral Sea of Galilee, the splendid two-year-old hotel is a marvel of modern luxuries. All of the villas boast private infinity plunge pools or hot tubs, living rooms, king-sized beds, and spacious bathrooms with rain forest showers. The service is unparalleled, and the staff is incredibly accommodating. The Setai’s restaurant serves fine cuts of meat and hand-crafted cocktails. 

The Setai Sea of Galilee

Photo Credit: Courtesy of The Setai Sea of Galilee

What the villas genuinely offer is a peaceful escape into a region that is filled with beautiful nature reserves and magnificent archaeological ruins. Guests are invited to hop on a complimentary bicycle and explore the heritage sites of the area. Israel’s Biblical Galilee region is known for its highest peak, Mount Hermon, nature reserves, Hula and Magarsa, and the Napa Valley-like wine tasting region, Golan Heights. 

The hotel is home to Israel’s largest spa complex. The state-of-the-art wellness center has an indoor mineral pool, dry saunas, traditional hammam, fitness center that is open 24/7, and 12 treatment rooms. With a wide range of experiences including many types of massage and anti-aging facials, spa-goers will walk in, but float out feeling refreshed, pampered, and alive. 

The Setai Sea of Galilee

Photo Credit: Courtesy of The Setai Sea of Galilee

Down in Tel Aviv is its sister resort, The Setai Tel Aviv. The sophisticated hotel perfectly combines aspects of ancient Jaffa with contemporary opulence. Once an Ottoman prison, The Setai Tel Aviv is a 12-century property that opened in 2018. The 120 guest rooms are housed in a five-building complex that features original stone corridors and inner courtyards. During an intense 25-year restoration and preservation effort, many ancient artifacts were discovered. All of these other-worldly items are currently on display in the hotel’s lobby. 

The Setai Tel Aviv.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of The Setai Tel Aviv

The rooms have a variety of views, including the historic Jaffa Clock Tower and Square, the Mediterranean Sea, and an orange and olive tree-lined inner courtyard. Middle Eastern fabrics, hand-woven Turkish rugs, custom brass fixtures, and walnut wood furnishings in an earth tone color palette make up the room’s polished and pretty decor. 

With seven treatment rooms, the Setai Tel Aviv spa is an oasis in the middle of the urban jungle. The extensive menu includes Eastern-inspired massages and classic Hamman experiences. Manicures, pedicures, and hair salon services are also available by appointment. The rooftop infinity pool is a place to see and be seen, while the restaurant, Jaya, celebrates the best of Israeli’s culinary culture. Enjoy kada pastries stuffed with lamb and spicy tomato sauce, whole roasted sea bass with turmeric lemon sauce, or beef filled with roasted eggplant cream. The Setai Tel Aviv has three other dining options: the Mediterranee Lounge serves wine and beer all day; the Kishle Bar where cocktails are sipped around a custom Brazilian blue marble bar; and the Sushi Bar, which offers spicy tuna rolls and salmon nigiri. 

Loader