(December 27, 2016 / JNS)
Although the bus ride from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv is just about one hour, stepping off the bus seems like stepping into a completely different country—a little warmer, more humid, and lots of palm trees. Tel Aviv is different from Jerusalem in more ways than the weather. The crowd is different—more young café-goers with dogs on leashes, and fewer yarmulkes and Anglos. It kind of doesn’t feel like Israel anymore, perhaps more of a European city. For a Jerusalemite, Tel Aviv is a great place for a “staycation,” somewhere to have a vacation experience not far from home.
My boyfriend and I spent just 24 hours in Tel Aviv for a much-deserved staycation before Shabbat. We arrived to our hotel, Dizengoff Avenue Hotel, on the happening street of (you guessed it) Dizengoff. This hotel, along with one of my new favorite spots in Tel Aviv, Sarona Market, made our staycation unique and simply amazing.
The hotel itself is a microcosm of Israel—welcoming, inventive, and diverse. It has even continued to do its thing after feeling the physical effects of Israel’s less-than-welcoming neighbors.
As we checked in, we sat for a glass of wine with the hotel manager, who told us about the hotel and some recommendations for dinner and entertainment. She told us that the hotel opened during Tzuk Eitan, the summer 2014 conflict between Israel and Hamas, a terrorist group that sent 4,564 rockets towards Israeli civilians during the war. A piece of one of those rockets fell into the hotel—an unexpected welcome present from Israel’s Palestinian neighbors.
Each of the 29 rooms in the hotel is named after a Tel Aviv locale, and decorated as such. The manager explained how she feels like an ambassador not only of the hotel, but also Tel Aviv and Israel. She chooses receptionists who are new immigrants like myself, as we are the ones most excited about Israel—and perhaps we understand the concept of good customer service better than sabras (native-born Israelis).