Tel Aviv is bursting with new luxe hotels, and the latest to open in the ancient city is a historic stunner. The Drisco, a member of the Leading Hotels of the World, opened in early June just outside the old city walls of Jaffa in the developing American Colony neighbourhood—a calm respite from central Tel Aviv’s buzzy see-and-be-seen atmosphere.
Unfortunately, the Drisco brothers ran out of funds before completion and sold the hotel to Ernst Hardegg, a German Templar hotelier who finished it and named it the Jerusalem Hotel, due to its location as a rest stop for well-heeled travellers of the day disembarking at Jaffa Port and journeying on to Jerusalem. Between 1870 and 1940, the Jerusalem Hotel was renowned for being one of the most lavish in the region and was frequented by guests including Thomas Cook and Mark Twain. By the 1960s, though—post British rule and the War of Independence—the building lay dormant, its storied past relegated to ancient history.
The building itself is made of limestone and features stone arches, wrought-iron details, and an ornate facade. The entrance of the hotel maintains original German text on the grand arch as well as painted patterns and murals from the 1860s that were uncovered along the entrance walls, in the lobby, and in the cellar and then painstakingly restored. An ancient stone staircase has also been preserved in glass so guests can climb safely while still appreciating the original handiwork.
Carrara marble bathrooms feature delicately patterned tiles, roomy glass-enclosed showers, and fluffy robes, and spacious, original wood balconies offer sweeping views of the Mediterranean Sea, Jaffa, and Tel Aviv or the hotel’s inner courtyard.
For ultimate privacy, guests can book the historic Villa Drisco, a stand-alone building next door to the main property composed of five rooms, including the charming Norton Suite.
Located in a basement space that was once home to the Jerusalem Hotel’s bar, the restaurant features an Ottoman-leaning menu that’s complimented by restored wall and ceiling murals depicting classic German alehouse themes.