Where Everybody Knows Your Name

Sleek and Intimate, Boutique Hotels Spread in Israel

Booming Boutiques: Jerusalem’s American Colony Hotel and other boutique hotels across Israel are growing in popularity, partly because of the one-on-one attention and intimate settings they provide for guests.
wikimedia commons
Booming Boutiques: Jerusalem’s American Colony Hotel and other boutique hotels across Israel are growing in popularity, partly because of the one-on-one attention and intimate settings they provide for guests.

By Sarah Wildman

Published May 08, 2012, issue of May 11, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Once upon a time, there were only a few ways to rest your head during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. There were kibbutzim — which often required a week or month or year of volunteer work. There were campgrounds, though they required gear. There was the elderly cousin’s couch in central Tel Aviv, but that could put a serious crimp in your social life. And, of course, there were the grand dame hotels run by companies like Dan or Hilton.

Never inexpensive, you knew what you were getting in these five-star, conference-hall-sized lodges. The same couldn’t really be said of the few pensions scattered across the country. Once, during a stay in a youth hostel in Jerusalem, a fellow traveler tried to convince me that breathing in boiled vodka would kill my cold. (Don’t try it.) Another time, I slept at the YMCA on the Galilee, a marvelous early 20th-century building on the banks of the Kinneret. The 13 rooms were peaceful, if spare.

But in recent years, sleek boutique hotels have been sprouting up across Israel in increasing numbers. These crisp, gorgeously designed spaces are not large — some boast just a handful of beds — but they are chock full of the kinds of amenities world travelers have come to demand: Wi-Fi, flat-screen televisions, mid-century, modern-style furniture and fragrant toiletries you’d very much like to poach.

Boutique hotels have long been popular in Europe and the United States. Although they came a bit later to Israel, they are no less in demand. That’s because many of the global travelers who descend on Israel each year are now looking for the same type of top-notch service and intimate setting that has become a hallmark of the boutique hotel trend worldwide. “[Travelers] are looking for hotels that are not big in size, but [that are big] in personal service,” said Etty Gargir, general director of the Association for Tourism Tel Aviv/Jaffa.

The tourists attracted to these spaces are not just foreign — Israelis themselves are using them to get away for mini-breaks, according to Haim Gutin, Israel Tourism Commissioner for North America and Israel. “The Israelis are the first ones that go to taste everything that is new,” he said. The personalized service is also a draw. “In a hotel with 30 rooms, if you are there a week, they know you. They know your name. They know your habits, and they know what you are looking for,” Gutin said.


One of the small, intimate companies leading the boom in Israel is the Leopold Boutique hotel group, run by Leon Avigad, 40, and Nitzan Perry, 35 — partners in life and work. The duo opened Brown TLV (www.Browntlv.com, doubles from $215) in Tel Aviv about a year and a half ago.

The 30-room hotel offers a clubby space a stone’s throw from both the open-air Nahalat Binyamin market and the artists’ barrio of the city, Neve Tzedek. Starchy white-linen sun beds line the roof deck, and 500-thread-count, white-on-white bed linens brighten chocolate-brown and lime-green rooms. A new Israeli brand of soaps and creams, Minus 417, is in every bathroom.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • After years in storage, Toronto’s iconic red-and-white "Sam the Record Man" sign, complete with spinning discs, will return to public view near its original downtown perch. The sign came to symbolize one of Canada’s most storied and successful Jewish family businesses.
  • Is $4,000 too much to ask for a non-member to be buried in a synagogue cemetery?
  • "Let’s not fall into the simplistic us/them dichotomy of 'we were just minding our business when they started firing rockets at us.' We were not just minding our business. We were building settlements, manning checkpoints, and filling jails." What do you think?
  • PHOTOS: 10,000 Israel supporters gathered for a solidarity rally near the United Nations in New York yesterday.
  • Step into the Iron Dome with Tuvia Tenenbom.
  • What do you think of Wonder Woman's new look?
  • "She said that Ruven Barkan, a Conservative rabbi, came into her classroom, closed the door and turned out the lights. He asked the class of fourth graders to lie on the floor and relax their bodies. Then, he asked them to pray for abused children." Read Paul Berger's compelling story about a #Savannah community in turmoil:
  • “Everything around me turns orange, then a second of silence, then a bomb goes off!" First installment of Walid Abuzaid’s account of the war in #Gaza:
  • Is boredom un-Jewish?
  • Let's face it: there's really only one Katz's Delicatessen.
  • "Dear Diaspora Jews, I’m sorry to break it to you, but you can’t have it both ways. You can’t insist that every Jew is intrinsically part of the Israeli state and that Jews are also intrinsically separate from, and therefore not responsible for, the actions of the Israeli state." Do you agree?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.