One night was not enough at The Jaffa, a wonderful Marriott property in the Old Jaffa neighborhood of Tel Aviv. I have nothing but praise for this pricey but luxurious hotel.
The Jaffa Premises + Location
The hotel does not look like much from the outside. In fact, it looks like a modern, but rather ordinary apartment building. But The Jaffa sits on the former site of a beautiful French hospital and once you walk in you will quickly appreciate the new juxtaposed with the old. Walk around the corner and you can also see the old architecture from the street.
There’s plenty of greenery and open space, a modern design, but classic architecture in the restored hospital building. During construction, ruins of an old city were found. Part of that city–a wall–was incorporated into the lobby and courtyard of the hotel. You can read more about the history of the hotel here. You can also play backgammon in the lobby.
I really appreciated the tranquility of the hotel in what is a bustling enclave of Tel Aviv. Not only is the hotel nice, but you’re in a great neighborhood full of restaurants and bars that really has character. If you are so inclined, you can explore the city by bicycle rented from the hotel.
The Jaffa Guest Room
Upon check-in, the hotel front desk staff asked me to take a seat in the lobby while they “figured out” a room for us. We had little Augustine with us and the hotel proactively wanted to find a solution.
I recommend you book via American Express Fine Hotels & Resorts, which includes a room upgrade, late check-out, and free breakfast for two adults.
Concerning our upgrade, our little charmer Augustine wooed the ladies at the check-in desk and we ended up with a “junior suite” in the new building of the hotel. I wouldn’t call the room a suite, but it was oversized and had a view of the pool from one window and a terrace with a view of the sea from the other.
The hotel offered to bring in a rollaway bed for Augustine, but we figured he could sleep on the couch or in bed with us. He ended up sleeping nicely on the couch the entire night.
A mirror/TV combo swung out and hid a little coffee area. There was also a mini-bar and the hotel sent up a welcome note with apples, candy, and sparkling water.
The bathroom included beautiful stonework and a large walk-in shower, but no bathtub.
As much as I loved my room, I peeked in a room (turned out to be a suite) in the old wing and loved the high ceilings. Next time, even if I get a smaller room, I’ll ask to stay in the old wing.
The Jaffa Happy Hour + The Chapel
My favorite feature of the hotel was the old hospital chapel, which was carefully restored…then converted into a bar. It was among the most beautiful bars I’ve ever been in and such a unique feature of this property.
Each night there is a happy hour for guests with free dinks (wine, beer, soft drinks) between 6:00 – 6:30PM. I enjoyed a wonderful glass of Israel red wine (Shoresh 2017)…seriously delicious. Augustine had fresh-squeezed orange juice and Heidi had Diet Coke.
The following morning I returned to get some pictures and found a “penthouse” area in either wing of the chapel near the ceiling.
The Jaffa Dining
The hotel offers a New York deli called Golda’s Delicatessen as well as Don Camillo, an Italian restaurant. Golda’s:
I had dinner and breakfast in Don Camillo. Dinner included a lovely veal pasta and lovely conversation as well, which I outlined here. I loved the generous appetizers. Great food.
The breakfast spread was even better, with a buffet of baked goods, fruit, nuts, cheese, and meats plus a full menu of a la carte items. Coffee: excellent. Orange juice: excellent. Breakfast is delight.
For my main course, I had shakshuka which was excellent. Heidi ordered steak and eggs and said the steak was too tough and lacked flavor.
The Jaffa Spa
A full-service spa offers (pricey) treatments. Additionally, you can take advantage of the sauna and steam room, a daily ritual I look forward to. In case you end up staying late and have to vacate your room, there are lockers and showers as well.
The Jaffa Fitness
This fitness center had something I’ve never seen before…free protein bars. My wife and I eat a lot of protein bars during the week and I really appreciated that extra amenity. We didn’t want to be “that’s why we cannot have nice things” people, so we just look one each. But when we went back in the morning for another, they were all gone…too bad.
Oh, and the fitness center itself is very nice. Well-appointed with TechnoGym equipment.
The Jaffa Pool
The outdoor pool was closed our first day due to inclement weather, but thankfully opened the morning of our second day. Before we left I was able to go for a swim with Augustine, one of his favorite activities.
The Jaffa Service
The conversations at dinner were most memorable, but the staff was professional and kind at this hotel. Thanks to Dahleet and Fatima for checking us in and the upgrade. After a week of staying in convents and guests houses, it was so nice to be pampered versus just having a clean place to sleep.
I questioned whether The Jaffa was worth the $450 splurge, but it was. In fact, if there is one thing I could have changed about the trip to Israel it would have been one more night here and more time in Tel Aviv. But it was a great “introduction” to this hotel and I do look forward to returning.