There’s a reason The Carlton Tel Aviv has stood the test of time, attracting so many back year after year — and it’s not just the five-star restaurants overseen by Israeli celeb chef, Meir Adoni.
I’ll be honest, my mood dipped a little on arrival. I’m a boutique hotel kind of girl. Lining up to check in, my heart was in my Havaianas. A lacklustre welcome with a polite, but tired receptionist didn’t help, and I was unimpressed as I schlepped my own bag to the lift up to my room on the 13th floor.
Once in my room — a Royal Executive full sea view room to give it its correct name — this big hotel started to work its charm though.
Beyond my king-sized bed and past the fruit plate and welcome macarons, the sliding doors onto my balcony offered a full view of the sparkling Med and the promenade — or Tayelet as locals call it.
Even rooms with ‘partial’ sea view (those on the sides of the tall, white block) offer plenty of sea — with the added benefit of Tel Aviv’s growing cityscape to remind you where you are. Taking it in on my small balcony my spirits instantly lifted.
But it’s more than just the location, spectacular as it is, the only large hotel right on the beach. There are not one but two top class (and kosher) restaurants from celebrity chef Meir Adoni. The 15th floor Blue Sky with its fabulous views, and its milky sibling Lumina on the hotel’s first floor are big draws to this Shabbat-friendly venue.
On the floor above me, the executive lounge offers guests in executive rooms (on the 12th to 14th floors) business facilities plus free drinks and snacks at any time of day. God forbid anyone should go hungry.
To work off some of the fressing, there’s a gym with huge screens live-casting the waves crashing on the beach below, plus a spa next door and 15th floor rooftop pool — all of which had a facelift in the £9 million renovation finished in 2016.
The hotel’s duty manager had boasted to me that the Carlton’s breakfast is the best on the strip. I was sceptical — Israeli hotel breakfasts are renowned, so what could be so special?
For starters, the location was perfect, across the Tayelet in what looks like a wooden shack, right over the water. A genius move. The room feels like you are on the beach.
Once I’d bagged an al fresco table — if you want, you could stay in their air conditioned dining room — I took in the jaw-dropping selection.
Endless bowls of chopped vegetables and salads; racks of freshly baked breads and Viennoiserie; an entire Grana Padano cheese wheel; rows of halva; a vegan station; cheese, fish, fruits and cooked foods. The choice seemed endless.
Front of house manager, Channa, personally asked every guest if they were happy, and waiters were super attentive.
Outside the breakfast room, trendy bar Esperanto serves drinks to up to 400 locals and guests each Sunday to Thursday night. Again, you are right on the water with the sun setting over your cocktail.
For the observant, every Shabbat need is catered for too, with a weekly Kiddush and Shabbat dinner.
I left the hotel reluctantly — and a total convert to the larger hotel experience.
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