The Hedonist: Tel Aviv
What to see and where to be seen
Checking into one of the apartment suites at Tel Aviv's Nina Café Hotel (00 972 52 508 4141; ninacafehotel.com) on Shabazi Street in Neve Tzedek, I let the cool, discreet ambiance of the property soothe my travel-battered chi. She demanded more, though, leaving me for the alleyways and tile-roofed houses of the Neve Tzedek neighbourhood, en route to her favourite spa cradled within the majestic Suzan Dellal centre for dance (00 972 3 510 9876; spanevetzedek.co.il)
With both body and soul tuned up and ready to receive the night, we started off at tastebud treasure Catit (00 972 3 510 7001; catit.co.il) on Heichal HaTalmud Street. Inhabiting a wonderfully preserved villa in the heart of Tel Aviv, chef Meir Adoni offers local variations of contemporary French cuisine, spiced up with molecular gastronomy and native flavours.
A brisk post-dinner walk led us to 12 Rothschild (00 972 3 510 6430) a café-bar in Jaffa, where the beautiful people of Tel Aviv graced us alongside local DJs and live acts. Next, it was onwards to Clara at 1 Koifman (00 972 3 510 2060), which boasts a massive deck that straddles the seaside, where we fulfilled our Mediterranean shore-side club fantasy. As night merged with morning, we moved to The Cat & Dog, at 23 Carlebach, for darker, deep electronic sounds in a black-walled space.
Nourishment needs took us by Brasserie (00 972 3 696 7111; brasserie.co.il) at 70 Ibn Gabirol – the only restaurant to offer an haute Parisian menu 24 hours a day, before we fell back to the embraces of our hotel.
The next day commenced with a couple of painkillers, a strong hafuch (Israeli cappuccino) and a pair of dark sunglasses. I rented a long-board at Topsea (00 972 50 432 9001; topsea.co.il) at 165 Hayarkon Street, opposite the marina and headed out on to the beach, which is flanked by the ancient Jaffa walls and the Tel Aviv coastline. Meanwhile, she wandered the Tel Aviv Museum of Art (00 972 3 607 7020; tamuseum.com) on Shaul Hamelech Boulevard.
We commemorated our final night with absolute decadence. Our first destination was Mul-Yam (00 972 3 546 9920; mulyam.com) at Hangar 24, Tel Aviv Port. It's the only restaurant in the Middle East selected for Les Grandes Tables du Monde.
Then, making our way through the throngs of families on sedate outings, we sampled dessert at Shushu (00 972 54 221 9722) at 221 Ben Yehuda, a dance-bar hidden behind a yogurt shop. The absinthe and vanilla yoghurt were a strangely ethereal pairing.
Walking back south towards central Tel Aviv, we kept our eyes peeled for a rooftop party. The local authorities are relaxed about open-air events, and the flat-top construction in this city of Bauhaus buildings makes Tel Aviv a haven for elevated festivities. We followed the metallic sounds of house music echoing off the sides of the rotting constructions in Nachalat Binyamin, but the party was in its dying moments as crowds disbanded for the next thing.
We found it at Deli (00 972 3 642 5738), 47 Allenby, part of the recent trend in speakeasys. We passed by the sandwich counter, she flashed the bouncer a quick smile, and we were in. Halogen lights gave way to Edison bulbs and a New York lounge decor. Sophisticated cocktails, a gratifying sound system, and a nonchalant attitude make for an essential stop.
I had a New York-bound flight to catch at 1am. She was slated for Buenos Aires an hour later. We shared beautiful lies about a future rendezvous in neutral territory. Perhaps Berlin, or maybe Timbuktu.
Memories of her lips, and half a bottle of Israeli cabernet led me on to a red-eye of American dreams and Tel-Avivian laments.
A Hedonist's Guide to... (Hg2) is a luxury city guide series for the more decadent traveller. For more information, see hg2.com
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