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Dec 8, 2011

Say Yes to Tel Aviv

A curated guide to a cool weekend in Tel Aviv.

News broadcasts and headlines have been terribly unfair to Israel, especially regarding the white hot city of Tel Aviv. Of course, terrorist attacks are not to be taken lightly but virgin-tight Israeli security helps to create a surprisingly comfortable environment. Dubbed the “capital of Mediterranean Cool,” Tel Aviv, which is just over a century old, serves up so much city Time-Out has an edition there. Since Tel Aviv is an emerging global tech hub, it’s very possible that a business trip will take you there very soon and here are some tips to make the most of mixing business and pleasure.

Headquarters/Crash Pad: Striking that work/play balance is easy at the David InterContinental, where even Madonna has laid her head. The best of both worlds, the David is located at the beach, a winning feature in a city prone to 300 days of sunshine with winter temps ranging from the mid-60s to the high 70s and blistering hot summers, as well as in the hipster hood, Neve Zedek, home to the city’s top gastro haunts and retail shops. Inside, rooms have been spruced up to stylishly mod plus there are large windows capturing awesome city views as well as the Mediterranean Sea. Downstairs, the newly-renovated atrium gives reaching-towards-heaven new meaning. Food offerings are good, especially the breakfast buffet which offers everything from a Greek salad to a traditional American breakfast. The David’s quaint cigar lounge Inca sells authentic Cuban Cohibas. At the spa, masseuses beat relaxation into you and in case you want to seriously bling, there’s an on-site H. Stern.

Eat/Lounge: A few of Tel Aviv’s brightest culinary stars are also the David’s neighbors. Literally down the street is Herbert Samuel, celebrated Chef Jonathan Roshfeld’s popular casual cool eatery, where the tomato salad and black ink risotto are highly-recommended along with the flip-flopping fresh seafood. Grab tapas and fun at the sexy Vicky half of Vicky Cristina, the Spanish tapas and wine bar located in The Station (or Hatachana in Hebrew), the tricked-out, hipster version of an old train station that’s just a stroll away. Take it a tad bit more upscale at nearby Dallal where the bread is amazing and so are the salads, the pasta entrees and desserts, well, everything. And to get that 24-hour breakfast fix, the Rothschild location of Benedict is always buzzing.

Day Trip/Explore: If time permits, Jerusalem should be your pilgrimage du jour. A little over an hour’s drive away, this bucket-list cross-out should include a tour of the Old City, which has an adjacent mall that surprisingly works. Overall it’s a truly interactive experience that will make you swear that the centuries-old buildings are speaking to your soul, especially in the bustling Arab market in the Muslim Quarter where keeping your heart in your chest will be challenging and keeping your valuables close are highly advisable. Walking along Via Dolorosa (The Way of Sorrows) where Jesus is said to have carried the cross during his crucifixion is truly other-worldly. Drive a little more to experience the Dead Sea. There are no words for entering the sea on a bed of mud and floating in salty water. Should you have to stay close to the David, touring the beauty of nearby Old Jaffa where the llana Goor Museum, housed in a stone home 250 years old, will dazzle those artistic senses. Just consult the David’s chief concierge Ronen Alkelai to make dreams, near and far, an unforgettable reality.

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