I have been to Tel Aviv many times in my life and I remember one thing that always stood out: the rainbow-looking façade of the Dan Tel Aviv Hotel, designed in 1986 by Ya’acov Agam. On the city’s beautiful seafront promenade, facing one of Tel Aviv’s famous beaches, perfectly matched the city’s style as a landmark that me, my friends and countless tourists have used as a reference point for a long time.
On the different occasions that I been to Israel, I’ve always stayed at friends or rented apartments, so I have never got the chance to stay at this luxury hotel.
Since I came to live in Israel, Jerusalem – the city that sometimes sleeps – is where I prefer to rent and rest. So the reasons to visit the Dan became fewer and fewer, at least until recently.
A few days ago, as my 28th birthday was around the corner, I got an invitation to have a one-night stay at the hotel and a delicious dinner with whomever I choose – so I chose my girlfriend, of course.
My expectations were high. I have a degree in architecture and I knew that the hotel was in the middle of renovation work for most of its rooms. But the restaurants of the Dan chain of hotels are known for their exquisite dinners, and the promise of a full day at the beach was flying through my head.
The original building was built in the 1930s, but the new hotel as it is known today was opened in 1953. Over the years, many celebrities – such as Bill and Hillary Clinton, Paul McCartney, Michael Jackson, the Dalai Lama, the Rolling Stones, U2, Lady Gaga and Madonna – have been guests of the Dan Tel Aviv, leaving their signatures on the floor of the main entrance. I thought they might want my name too, but that was not the case.
The façade is an icon of the city but does not reflect the newly redesigned interior, which captivates the senses with the array of sounds from the fountains while your eyes are being dazzled by the carefully crafted lighting fixtures.
There’s a nice decorated lounge façade that people told us to visit. It has a magnificent view of the beach, offering snacks, light meals and drinks. The access to the business lounge is available to selected rooms and all suites. Entrance is limited to adults above the age of 18.
The suite we were given was the newly remodeled Executive Sea View Room with its blue and beige contrast, blending perfectly to form a calm and soothing environment. The white curtains brought a soft light into the room that became yellowish and later orange at sunset. The bathroom, with its carefully cut marble pieces, makes for an experience in itself. It is divided by a sliding door that offers privacy and intimacy.
AS SOON as we arrived in the room, we were greeted with a bottle of kosher Israeli wine, Petite Castel and two glass boxes with exquisite chocolates and pâtisserie. Boy, they were heavenly – and lasted for a total of six seconds.
We went for a leisurely walk to the beach, but you know how to do that yourselves, so I’ll come back to our main subject.
As soon as we were back, we wasted no time before jumping into the swimming pool. The hotel has an outdoor salty water pool and indoor chlorinated water pool both with gorgeous views to the Mediterranean seafront.
At night, we got a reservation at Hayarkon 99 – not the street, but a cozy and exclusive restaurant downstairs, where the ambiance, food and service were of the highest order!
The next morning, we woke up early. Breakfast was a buffet with a wide variety of cheeses, eggs, types of fish, cereals, dips, breads and lots fresh veggies arranged in gorgeous wooden boxes and different teas, coffee, milk and juices for a good morning start.
The renovation that they’re doing says that they have a respect for history, trying to keep elements from old-fashion design mixing it with classy and modern design.
We loved our stay at the hotel, enjoyed the luxurious design, the amazing views, the comfortable room, the fresh-style food, and all the comforts. And most of all, we were very impressed by the staff, who all expressed they love working at the Dan Tel Aviv Hotel. For sure, there’s much to see and enjoy in the hotel that we didn’t see. But for us was another great experience that added value to our time together.
Hayarkon 99, the renowned restaurant of the Dan Tel Aviv Hotel, was designed with classic and traditional motifs, creating a classy and intimate atmosphere with limited seating capacity. It can accommodate 25 guests comfortably in a cozy ambiance, which is one of the reasons you need to make reservations in advance.
A restaurant that offers a mehadrin kosher gourmet experience, it is under the professional guidance of executive chef Oved Alfia, who has created a contemporary meat menu using the best local ingredients with a solid personal touch, which flawlessly combines European and Mediterranean flavors.
Pini, the restaurant manager, made our time there a lovely and enjoyable experience, providing us with an exclusive and stylish hospitality and personal service. I even wanted to take a photograph with him. We made a new acquaintance and, in turn, the service from our waiter resulted in his hosting us in his home. Believe me, we really felt at home thanks to Pini, who was honored with the Gault Millau prestigious guide by winning the best service award for 2018.
So there we were, having a romantic date by candlelight at the most exclusive restaurant in the city, capturing memorable moments in honor of my birthday and having a wonderful time with my lovely companion.
While we perused the menu, baked sliced bread and dips were brought to our table. A bottle of the house wine – a King David Cabernet Sauvignon – was given to us to taste, and it did not fail to impress our taste-buds. That’s how this special culinary experience started.
As an opening dish, we got a taste of the chef’s choice and his artistry: A small beef steak with a few different fresh sprouts of parsley, and a garabato of Teriyaki sauce and what I guess were grains of sea salt, which tasted heavenly. I even asked my partner to give me hers – she would rather not eat meat anyway.
For starters, we ordered a sirloin carpaccio with aioli sauce, capers, mustard and a variety of green and purple leaves that gave it a unique taste that I enjoyed mostly myself again – although my partner did try a bit of it. Yes, this is also meat, not fish, but in my defense, she chose it.
After another glass of wine, our main course arrived. I played it safe and ordered meat again, a beef fillet served with mushroom truffles, while my girlfriend had a sea bar fillet with carrot sauce in a bed of saffron risotto and baby leeks that, in her words, was perfectly cooked, soft and delicious.
All of our dishes were certainly made with the finest ingredients, perfectly balanced, looked just fabulous and tasted great.
Desserts were recommended by Pini. Given that we had eaten so much and drank already our third glass the best options were a light apple gratin and a white coconut panna cotta, which came with soft dough. My girlfriend doesn’t eat bread or gluten, but Pini had the great idea to take out the bottom of it, so we could taste the rest of the delicacy that was so beautifully crafted!
The most interesting part came at the end, when we got to talk to Oved, the chef. He has been working in the kitchen for over 30 years, 20 of them as executive chef at the Dan.
We asked him about his vision and how he prepared his delightful plates. “I believe in fresh products and don’t touch them too much,” he said. “I can do a lot with local products, but I like to mix different cuisines, not too much, but one or another item.”
He continued: “I don’t like too much taste in the plate, I like to keep it simple, to give a special touch to enhance the flavors.”
He emphasize he would spend what is necessary to get the best products to make his beautifully presented dishes and manage to make it as natural and fresh as possible.
He was super funny, making jokes and telling us about his life. “If people like what I do, I’m happy and satisfied,” he said.
The writer was a guest of the hotel.
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