Tel Aviv’s new beachfront glass tower hotels may get all the buzz and crowds, but there is a sophisticated, deluxe boutique property on tiny Auerbach Street, on the border of Tel Aviv and Jaffa, that has become a quiet oasis for visitors looking for a connection to the city’s 19th-century history, a location within Tel Aviv’s trendiest neighborhood, and an on-site restaurant so casual and comfortable it is difficult to leave the property for the nearby attractions.
The stone building, originally constructed in 1866 by Evangelist pilgrims from the U.S. state of Maine, John and George Drisco, marked the first luxury hotel property in the area and quickly lived up to its purpose, receiving guests like early tourism business tycoon Thomas Cook and author Mark Twain. However, during decades of political and social changes in the neighborhood, the building was eventually abandoned, 1958–2010, when new owners began an eight-year restoration project to reopen as a 5-star boutique hotel. The present 35-room, five-suite The Drisco Hotel Tel Aviv, with its stunning exterior and lovingly recreated Ottoman-influenced interior, all by architect and interior designer Ari Shaltiel, opened to the public in June 2018.
All guest accommodations are equipped with upscale amenities, state-of-the art technology and Carrara marble bathrooms with extra-large walk-in showers. Bedrooms include handmade wood headboards, tear-drop shaped lamps and elegant mirrors. Most rooms offer spacious balconies with views of Tel Aviv-Jaffa or the Mediterranean Sea. In some parts of the hotel, small, hidden staircases lead to cozy attic suites. A smaller, restored stone house, known as Villa Drisco, lies adjacent to the main building, where an additional five guestrooms and the Norton Suite overlook the Villa’s inner piazza and garden courtyard.
Breakfast at The Drisco offers a buffet with a variety of seasonal fruits, muesli, yogurt, granola, hard cheeses, olives, various breads, cakes, cookies and pastries. Eggs and other hot breakfast items are made to order for each guest. An outdoor breakfast patio is available year-round.
The hotel’s signature restaurant, George & John (named for the Drisco brothers), sits on the ground floor of the hotel, serving breakfast and dinner daily. Head chef Tomer Tal provides a contemporary menu, corresponding with locality and seasonality, serving creative dishes combining the rich history of the hotel with the vibrant and young Tel Aviv scene. In 2022, George & John was voted ninth-best restaurant in the Middle East and North Africa by the website World’s Fifty Best Restaurants.
Some of chef Tal’s dinner menu items include red tuna tartare with cumquat sauce, fresh turmeric and crispy tapioca seasoned with dashi; fish tataki with Jaffa bagel, garlic salsa, sour kefir cream and black eggplant cream; lamb tartare and sirloin, leek and sourdough twill, pistachio tahini, burnt tomatoes vinaigrette and yogurt stone; and roasted lamb short ribs slowly cooked, with socca bread, tzatziki, onions and herbs.
The restaurant’s Drisco Bar offers a wood-paneled ceiling, marble columns and oversized armchairs relating to the period of British rule in Palestine. In the early evening, the small rooftop lounge and bar allows guests to relax by watching the sunset over the Mediterranean with wine and appetizers.
Drisco Tel Aviv lies in the middle of the historic American Colony district in south Tel Aviv. The hotel is within walking distance of Mediterranean beaches, the revitalized Neve Tzedek district (one of Tel Aviv’s oldest neighborhoods), Carmel Market, the restored HaTachana (historic train station retail and cultural complex), and the busy eateries and art galleries of Old Jaffa. February rates at Drisco Hotel start at $421 per night; July rates start at $617.
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