The grande dame of Israeli luxury hotels opened in 1931 and has successfully defended its title ever since. The ceilings and columns of the lobby-lounge are decorated in "ancient Mesopotamian" geometrics. The rooms are spacious, grandly decorated, and the landscaped pool area is a winner. Spacious guest rooms are elegantly orchestrated in cream and gold, with old-fashioned writing tables. Pricier rooms have views of the Old City, and suites have balconies. 23 King David Street. 202 rooms, 35 suites. 02/620-8888. www.danhotels.com. AE, DC, MC, V.
Carmel Forest Spa Resort,
Fifteen miles from Haifa, this spa-resort in the Carmel Forest is the ultimate escape---the handsome structure sits on a hillside, offering glorious view of the surrounding pine forest and, further in the distance, the Mediterranean. The spa has 25 treatment rooms offering everything from massage to aromatherapy, facials, and hydrotherapy. Guests can strike out on a forest walk, if they choose, relax by the pool, or enjoy a meal prepared with all natural ingredients. Box 9000, Haifa 31900. 04/832-3111. www.isrotel.co.il. 126 rooms. No children under age 16. AE, DC, MC, V.
Haifa and the Northern Coast
This very special B&B occupies a gorgeous house in Moshav Shavei Zio, an aging beachside communal settlement five miles north of Akko. A winding staircase leads to the spacious guest rooms with white billowing curtains, huge beds, and stereos. There's a welcoming fireplace in the entryway, wood-framed windows looking onto the Mediterranean, and flowers gracing the large wooden dining table. A gourmet breakfast is served on the patio next to a turquoise pool. 1 Hof Street; turn off Route 4 onto Moshav Shavei Zion and make a left onto Hof St. 4 rooms. 04/952-5656, no kids under 18. AE, DC, MC, V.
It was once a Church of Scotland hospital and a pilgrim hostelry. Today it's a marvelously inviting place with a charming lobby, marble tiles, and an arch-framed lake view. (The rooftop terrace is the perfect place for a quiet drink or a light meal.) The aesthetics in the lobby and rooms are wonderful: gold and burgundy trim in the junior suites, beige and blue carpets in the halls, and well-appointed bathrooms. Gedud Barak and Hayarden Streets. 04/671-0710. 69 rooms. AE, DC, MC, V.
Eilat & the Negev
This Isrotel property has a serene lobby that beckons with cushy, smokey-green leather couches and chairs. The oversized terrace, filled with multi-colored flowers, faces the Gulf of Eilat, making for a stunning sunset view. Rooms are decorated in warm blue and pale rose, and all have comfortable sofas, chairs, and a balcony. Suites have whirlpool tubs. Two rooms are equipped for the handicapped and hearing-impaired. North Beach. 08/636-8888. www.isrotel.co.il. 363 rooms, 19 suites. Wi-Fi, 3 pools, no-smoking floors. AE, DC, MC, V.
Photos courtesy of (l-r): (1) Scots Hotel; (2) Royal Beach; (3) Carmel Forest Spa Resort.