The Setai Tel Aviv

David Razi'el St 22, Tel Aviv-Yafo, 6802919, Israel

Why we love it: A 900-year-old fortress-cum-prison reimagined as a luxurious getaway

The Highlights:
- Historical details like artifacts, original ironwork, and a stone arch bearing the seal of Abdul Hamid II
- A fourth-floor infinity pool with uninterrupted views of the Mediterranean Sea
- A full-service spa with a Turkish hammam

The Review:
Located right on the main square in the old city of Jaffa, The Setai Tel Aviv is steeped in history. Built by the Crusaders as a fortress in the 12th century, the property later served as a kishle (jailhouse) under the Ottoman Empire, then a British command post during Israel’s War of Independence. When it became a hotel, the original building, with its stone corridors and inner courtyards, underwent a meticulous restoration that included archaeological digs to uncover several artifacts, which guests can now see in the lobby. Those eager to learn more about the hotel’s history can also walk through the large entry arch, crowned by the seal of Abdul Hamid II, or check out the stone-and-iron prison cells behind the grotto-like lobby bar.

Spread over three newly created floors, the 120 rooms and suites feature an Ottoman-inspired design, complete with richly colored Turkish rugs, laser-cut pendant lamps, dark wood furniture, and sleek, textured headboards. Spacious bathrooms further the luxurious vibe with granite sinks, large bathtubs, and separate rain showers. Elsewhere on property is Jaya, where guests can indulge in an ample breakfast buffet and new-Mediterranean kosher food for lunch and dinner; former prison yards that serve as the hotel’s stunning front and rear courtyards, with comfy seating among verdant lemon trees; and a basement spa, which boasts a traditional Turkish hammam. Still, the hotel’s principal amenity has to be the fabulous infinity pool with panoramic views of the Mediterranean and downtown Tel Aviv—sunsets here are nothing short of spectacular.

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