The Setai Tel Aviv
David Razi'el St 22, Tel Aviv-Yafo, 6802919, Israel
| +972 3-601-6000
Photo by Assaf Pinchuk / The Setai
The Setai Tel AvivWhy we love it: A 900-year-old fortress-cum-prison gets a luxe makeover
- Artifacts, original ironwork, and a stone arch bearing the seal of Abdul Hamid II are all on view
- A fourth-floor infinity pool with an uninterrupted view of the Mediterranean Sea
- A full-service spa with hammam
Perched on the edge of the Mediterranean Sea in the old city of Jaffa’s main square, the Setai Tel Aviv is steeped in history. Guests walking through the large arch at the hotel’s entrance will notice the seal of Abdul Hamid II, who came to power more than 100 years ago, and they can peak at stone and iron prison cells behind the grotto-like lobby bar. Initially constructed by the Crusaders as a fortress in the 12th century, it later became a kishle (“jailhouse” in Turkish) during the Ottoman Empire and was used as a British command post during Israel’s War of Independence. The original buildings and their stone corridors that wrap around inner courtyards have undergone meticulous restoration that included archaeological digs (some uncovered artifacts are on display in the lobby) and three floors have been added.
The 120 rooms and suites feature Ottoman-inspired design details including richly colored Turkish rugs and laser-cut pendant lamps alongside dark wood furniture and a sleek textured headboard. Spacious bathrooms sport granite sinks, bathtubs, and separate rain showers. Just off the restaurant Jaya (which offers an ample kosher breakfast buffet and neo-Mediterranean kosher food for lunch and dinner) are former prison yards that now serve as the hotel’s stunning front and rear courtyards, with comfy seating among verdant lemon trees. The basement spa, which boasts a traditional Turkish hammam, is worth a visit and just try and stay away from the fabulous infinity pool with panoramic views of the Mediterranean and downtown Tel Aviv twinkling along the coastline—sunsets here are nothing short of amazing.