Hilton Tel Aviv, one of Israel’s oldest and most adored luxury brands, has transformed its top floors into an exclusive boutique hotel within a hotel. Richard Ferrer checks in.
It sounds like an idea for a daytime television show: transform one of the world’s ugliest buildings into the fanciest luxury hotel.
That was the challenge facing Turkish designer Sinan Kafadar who, back in 2000, turned Istanbul’s infamous Sağmalcılar jail, setting for the chilling 1978 movie Midnight Express, into Turkey’s swankiest Four Seasons.
So when the Hilton Tel Aviv, one of Israel’s oldest and most adored luxury brands, wanted to turn 167 rooms on its top five floors into an exclusive boutique hotel within a hotel, there was only one man to call. Today, three years after Kafadar put the finishing touches to Vista At The Hilton Tel Aviv, guests have the choice of booking into the regular five-star accommodation or the premium Vista experience.
The splendour starts on arrival as you’re whisked past reception to the swanky Vista Lounge on the 17th floor for check-in. This grand glass-walled lounge, with epic Mediterranean views on three sides, is the epicentre of Vista – a exclusive hideaway offering exquisite complimentary all-day kosher meals, snacks and drinks.
“We wanted to turn the top floors into a hotel version of an Aston Martin or Patek Philippe watch,” head of PR for Hilton Hotels Israel Motti Verses tells me over an expresso in the lounge. “Luxury travel has changed in recent years. Those who can afford it are looking for more than a typical five-star experience. That’s where we come in.”
The price difference isn’t vast. I stayed during August peak season in a 15th floor Vista room costing £570 a night, compared to a regular £400 room. The extra cost can be seen in the pristine Bauhaus-style décor, large and luxurious marble bathroom, giant king-sized double bed replete with pillow menu, luxuriously sheets and daily fruit, wine and chocolate gifts.