Ten years of painstaking restoration have transformed this gorgeous historical building in Jaffa's quiet American Colony into The Drisco Hotel, a charming and meticulously designed property bringing a new standard of luxury of Tel Aviv. The property has a fascinating history -- built in 1866, it was the first luxury hotel in the region and served as a resting place for Christian pilgrims as well as notables including Mark Twain and Thomas Cook. This legacy is done justice in its reincarnation, with quiet and gracious service, impeccable design and a top-notch bar and restaurant.
At sunset, head up to the hotel's quaint rooftop for wine, nibbles and conversation with hotel staff, who make a point of getting to know each guest personally.
If the devil is in the details, these rooms are devilishly comfortable: Hardwood floors, elaborate headboards and top-rate linens are joined by flat-screen IPTVs, Nespresso machines and elaborately tiled walls. The result: A beautiful and tech-friendly marriage with history.
YOU SHOULD KNOW All rooms have smart lighting, complete with fancy track pads to control the lights throughout the room with a touch of a button, but the pads glow bright -- sometimes too bright -- and can be annoying at night for those who want to sleep in a pitch-dark room.
White marble counters and tiled walls are matched with soft robes and slippers, huge walk-in showers and private Drisco-branded toiletries.
The heart of the Drisco is its historic lobby, which has been carefully restored to its original glory thanks to a surviving historic photograph of the original room, which is on display. Guests are whisked past the long handsome bar and seated in the lobby's comfortable plush chairs for check-in, which makes the process sweet and special.
In the glass curio case along the lobby's back wall, take note of the original black and white photographs of John and George Drisco, who founded the hotel, as well as an oil painting of Jerusalem above the bar, which has been restored, stroke by painstaking stroke, from an original that hung there a century ago and was lost.
There is no designated spa, but treatments are available in your hotel room.
A very small gym at the front of the hotel nevertheless offers the right equipment to work up a quick sweat.
On the hotel's lower level, ZADA serves Ottoman cuisine under the direction of executive chef Shahar Bitton.
The lobby bar serves a variety of high-class cocktails, wines and spirits, including an excellent Aperol Spritz.
Auerbach Street is a quiet side street, so ask the hotel to order you a taxi if you need to go somewhere that's a bit of a distance. Lively Jaffa is a short and easy walk away, however, and along Sderot Yerushalayim, which sits just down the hill from the hotel, you can catch several major buslines into the heart of Tel Aviv.
For casual but elevated chef-led fare, you'll love Raisa (15-minute walk) in the Jaffa Flea Market; for a truly once-in-lifetime dining experience, book far in advance to earn a coveted seat at the creative and boundary-busting dinner show that is OCD (5-minute walk).
Cocktails, French charm and an outdoor garden are all in the mix at charming Par Derriere (5-minute walk); at Shaffa Bar, the crowd is as eclectic as the menu (13-minute walk).
WHY WE LIKE IT
The surface of this hotel -- it's beautiful design, gracious service and solid location on a quiet corner in Jaffa -- make it stand out, but it's the deep and rich history here, handled with such care and grace by its restoration team, that truly sets it apart.