On Friday morning the scene along Rothschild Boulevard is picturesque: Young parents push their kids along in strollers; beautiful women ride by on Tel-O-Fun rental bikes; kiosks on the street corners serve orange juice squeezed to order; people drink coffee and beer in sidewalk cafes; a group of men play pétanque under the looming ficus trees. The weather is in the 80s and sunny with a breeze. Stretching from Neve Tzedek (Tel Aviv’s first neighborhood) by the Mediterranean to Habima Square in the heart of the city, Rothschild Boulevard is a slice of paradise in the Holy Land, and if you’re not paying attention you could walk right by The Rothschild 71, a new boutique hotel tucked back a few yards from the leafy street.
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The best way to see a vibrant city like Tel Aviv is through the eyes of a local. Don’t know one? We didn’t either, so we met with Ross Belfer, a well-connected American living in Tel Aviv. Belfer just launched his own travel company called Eager Tourist that provides custom itineraries for visitors. Want to visit a local chef’s home kitchen? See the studios of up-and-coming artists? Go for a running tour of the city? This guy has you covered. eagertourist.com
Housed in an International-Style building built in 1934, The Rothschild has 25 suites and five levels of accommodation, ranging from a studio to the largest suite, which takes up the better part of the top floor and includes a roof deck capable of hosting a reception for you and a few dozen new friends. Each of the suites has the obvious amenities (large flat-screen HD TV, complimentary wireless internet) plus some thoughtful details (rain showerhead, espresso machine, Goldstar beer and Lambrusco in the fridge) that give a welcoming and contemporary feel. Rather than a formal entryway, the ground floor is a lounge-slash-library stocked with fresh juice, more espresso and the latest FT or Monocle. Check-in is more like a one-on-one welcome appointment. Staff are friendly and attentive, but the hotel also feels like your own private apartment building.
In contrast to the Rothschild 71, most of Tel Aviv’s accommodations are in the gargantuan chain hotels due west on the Mediterranean: The Hilton, The Carlton, The Crowne Plaza. Tel Aviv is a beach town, after all, and a popular destination for tourists coming from all directions, especially the U.S., Russia and Europe. If what you want is a beach view, go for it; otherwise, boutique hotels throughout the city offer more personalized service, better rooms for the money and ready access to Tel Aviv’s cultural life. Besides, with eight miles of coastline, the beach isn’t hard to find.
Unlike most of the Western world, the workweek in Israel begins on Sunday and ends on Thursday to accommodate Shabbat, which lasts from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday; for visitors, this makes Fridays an uncommonly early weekend. Embrace this gift and grab a bike from one of the docking stations (there’s one right near the hotel) to explore. It’s just a quick spin to the popular Gordon Beach, down to the ancient port city of Jaffa, or to Levinsky Market in the Florentin neighborhood for the best kebabs and pastries you’ve ever had.
Tel Aviv is one of the greatest beach towns on earth, precisely because it brings much more to the table than its beaches and the resorts that line them. For visitors who want to experience both sides of the city and avoid the vacationing masses, a walk along the Rothschild Boulevard is a great start — and The Rothschild 71 is an ideal accommodation.