Brut isn’t necessarily a word you’d associate with a family hotel. And online, the Brown Brut hotel — one of the rapidly expanding Brown group’s most recent openings— seemed more funky than family hotel.
In fact, the name is inspired by the building it sits within; a former office block designed in the Brutalist style. Equally, the “brut” could have been a tribute to the plentiful prosecco that sits in a frosty-sided ice bucket in the hotel’s reception — the free fizz and library-look, lobby wallpaper are trademarks of the estate.
Fans of the boutique group will already expect pleasingly sleek contemporary designs, and here the starkly modern architecture is particularly fierce — much metal and concrete, sharp lines and corners with a notable absence of frilly furnishings. Very much in keeping with Tel Aviv’s Bauhaus building vibe.
Arriving at 2am to a deserted lobby looking more like a nightclub than a hotel and walking down dimly lit corridors, I was concerned this might be more party place than family friendly. I needn’t have worried though.
A smiling receptionist plus a huge basket of sweets, popcorn, Kinder eggs and locally made babka sitting in the children’s room brought smiles to their faces before they collapsed into bed.
Our shiny Nespresso machine in our room, super-soft sheets and top-notch mattress — other welcome Brown touches — plus a cold bottle of wine evoked a similarly warm reaction from the adults.
Sitting on the front line of buildings on the seafront opposite Charles Clore Park, all 225 bedrooms have a full or partial view of the sea with the building’s angular, sloping windows turning each one into a picture-postcard scene.
The angled glass, leaning into the room, is designed to reduce the direct penetration of sun rays, while still leaving the spaces light and bright. Look down and you also have a bird’s eye view of the ground below; a vertigo sufferer’s nightmare, but not a problem for us.
The hotel also scores well on the food front. Israeli hotel breakfasts are always going to be special, but this one over-exceeded expectation.
In the centre of the restaurant, a huge square area doubled as a buffet — laden with next level colourful salads and crunchy fresh vegetables; cheeses of all sorts, from yellow slices, flavoured schmears and the nation’s favourite, cottage to soft, white, lactic labneh.
My favourites were the mini dishes of glossy, Japanese-style cured fish — tiny flavour bombs so addictive I built a tower of empties on our table. On hotplates, shiny steel balti-style dishes offered two different types of shakshuka.
There was also a range of fruits; freshly baked babka and a table of bagels, challah rolls and sliced sourdough.
At a separate counter, a chef in front of a taboon oven prepared eggs to order but had also laid out platters of strips of oven-blackened focaccia topped with roasted vegetables and other toppings. By night, the room is taken over by chef Idan Boushari’s Kilometrage restaurant.
A former drug addict himself, Boushari set up the Middle Eastern/Levantine restaurant as a social project to train up and employ high-risk youths. We didn’t have time to try it out, but with a 20 per cent discount for guests, it’s well worth a visit.
With only three days in the city, we didn’t plan to spend much time in our rooms and happily we were based well for walks into both Tel Aviv and Jaffa, although do expect some traffic noise in the mornings as a result.
Only ten minutes’ stroll from Carmel Market, where we squeezed in a food tour by Shai Shvalb for Tours by Locals, it’s also just a few minutes from the boutique shops and restaurants of picturesque Neve Tzedek.
Even our beginner’s surf lesson at Galim Surf School on Gordon Beach, at the other end of the Tayelet, was a manageable — if challenging — 40-minute walk in April’s more temperate sun, or a short taxi ride on hotter days.
Returning to chill each day, we had the huge sun deck on the third floor almost to ourselves. Insta-friendly whirlpool baths and four-poster sunbeds facing the sea offered a grown-up, glam spot for my teenage daughter to take her selfies while I gazed at the sea and sipped more of that freebie fizz.
The building style may be harsh but life at Brown Brut is anything but.
Rates: Doubles at Brown Brut cost from £203 per night.