Connor McGovern visits Tel Aviv and gets pampered in The Norman, a boutique bolthole
One of Tel Aviv’s foremost hotels, The Norman is hard to miss. Fronted by lush palms and a smart-suited concierge, its powder-blue art deco facade brings a touch of colour to the ‘White City’, Tel Aviv’s UNESCO-listed cluster of Bauhaus buildings. And once through the doors, the hotel’s artistic flourishes don’t stop there. An exemplar of the city’s 1902s architecture, The Norman pops with tastefully selected pieces of Israeli art, bringing a touch of the modern day to this historic local landmark.
The spa, located on the sixth floor, is reached via a lift through the hotel’s central atrium, where, if you crane your neck carefully, you’ll be able to read the poem written on the length of the entire wall. I arrive at the hotel’s bijou spa area and peruse the on-trend menu of massages, which spans classic Swedish and shiatsu to a more intensive four-hand treatment. For a little indulgence, I could have also opted for acupuncture and cupping therapy, but I go for the deep-tissue massage, feeling spent after four days of exploring Tel Aviv in the fierce heat. I’m welcomed in by the gentle floral scent that wafts from the treatment rooms, from where, an hour later, I leave feeling so lulled that I could fall asleep, my shoulders and back light and squeezed of all their tension. The massage may have finished, but I linger a little longer, stepping up to the rooftop terrace and unwind on one of the loungers. Staving off the Levantine heat, I take a dip in the pool, which shimmers with twinkling turquoise tiles. It’s a low-key, luxurious oasis just for hotel guests. Beside me, a couple indulge in a cocktail. I’m happy to enjoy the tranquillity — surprising, given the hotel’s central location — and steal a moment’s peace high above the hectic city.
The rooms are a masterclass in classic meets contemporary. Each one is individually designed — minimal, yes, but making an impression with bold splashes of colour and eye-catching one-offs. I love the almost-vintage touches that echo the hotel’s glamorous heritage, and the huge windows that bathe the rooms in light. My favourite spot, however, is the leafy terrace fringed with fruit trees, where I sip espresso amid the scent of oranges. For guests looking to splash out, the building next door at No.23 — easy to spot with its duck egg-blue window shutters — houses a score of seriously stylish suites. King of them all is the Penthouse duplex, with its huge bathtub and five-star touches (think fresh flowers and curated coffee table books) — the go-to option for the most luxurious slumbers in the city.
Foodies are spoilt during a stay at The Norman. Lauded chef Barak Aharoni is at the helm at Alena, the Mediterranean restaurant that’s bustling every night. His unfussy but nevertheless refined fare draws in locals and guests alike, with European-meets-Levantine dishes heading up the menus. For a more exotic affair, head upstairs to Dinings, where Japanese-inflected tapas served alongside skyline views have received plenty of praise from around the world. Don’t forget to pop into The Library Bar, however, just off reception. The handsome little bolthole is perfect for taking five with a cup of tea, or starting a soiree in style with one of the house cocktails.
Unrivalled yet unpretentious luxury in the heart of the city.
Treatments start at 340 NIS (£71). Standard doubles start at $515 (£400), on a B&B basis.
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