‘Israel’s cool coastal city is an electrifying mix of stylish hotels and high design landmarks- all along miles of white- sand beaches’
This is how Tel Aviv is described in the October issue of Travel+Leisure magazine.
Last April I was contacted by one of the Photo Editors of Travel+Leisure Magazine, asking me if I was by any chance in Tel Aviv and available for a shoot. The timing was perfect and I was assigned to shoot the monthly column T+L Decoder for Tel Aviv. The Decoder is actually the definitive guide which covers the best places to Eat, See, Shop and Stay in one city. Tel Aviv was chosen for October issue. Needless to say how excited I was and honored to shoot Tel Aviv. A few days later I got a list of places and locations I had to cover. As someone who lives in New York for a while now and comes to Tel Aviv for holiday visits, I must admit I was thrilled to discover new locations in the city and capture them from a different point of view. Not a local.
Beside shooting the various locations, I also had to keep in mind an interesting, graphic and impressive image for the guide’s cover. When I mentioned it to some of the ‘objects’, they got enrolled and excited and all wanted to be chosen for the cover. When I was in need for people as objects, some of my friends happily volunteered to be photographed as they also wanted to see me in my ‘working mode’.
The article was written by David Kaufman, a great NY based writer who, as I’ve heard, loves Tel Aviv. Here is the online version of the article. (I highly recommend to download the interactive iPad version)
Hope this article and the images will take you soon to Tel Aviv.
When I grow up I want to design a hotel…Yep, same like this one…the citizenM hotel in Bankside London.
I’ve heard about citizenM when I was visiting London on July. I was having a meeting and a portfolio review with WallPaper Magazine and in preparing myself to the meeting, I read the WallPaper Travel section and came across the citizenM post. The hotel happened to be located just across the street from WallPaper offices so I made sure to go and see the hotel with my own eyes.
Yes. I admit. I love Shapes and Colors. (and if you follow my blog for a while now, I’m sure you have probably noticed that) so no wonder I was drawn into the huge lobby of citizenM immediately and wandered its colorful labyrinth. Then I got to the working space area that really made me envy I wasn’t the one sitting there working on my computer.
Wandering the lobby, I’ve noticed the nonchalant atmosphere among the guests, who seemed to feel like it was their own living-room. I loved it!
When I got back to New York, I had the pleasure of meeting Noreen Chadha, who is managing the up and coming citizenM in New York. Noreen was kind enough to share with me the story of the hotel chain and I’m so excited to share it with you.
It all started when Rattan Chadha, back then a textile tycoon and now the founder of citizenM, was always looking for a different kind of hotels while he was traveling for business. During his fashion days, Chadha had about 100 designers traveling all over the world, from London to Milan to Paris to New York, and they were always complaining about their hotels. These were cool creative people, and they wanted to stay in a hotel where they could connect with the brand and with the lifestyle. They wanted to have a drink at the bar and meet likeminded people. But they always ended up in a Holiday Inn or a Marriott, because of budget. This was a common frustration, and it got Rattan thinking about a new opportunity. He got a team of people, all hospitality-connected, all frequent flyers and together they came up with a list of frustrations but also with some creative solutions and suggestions.
citizenM, The New Generation of Traveller
Chadha and team realized the hospitality world is no longer divided into just two segments of travelers; The 5-start traveler or the Budget traveler. No. Nowadays travelers are mix and match and no longer boxed in one category; They might stay at different types of hotels for different trips, fly economy, take public transportation and yet, they want to dine in the hottest restaurant in town. They might wear Zara or Uniqlo but will also have a Rolex on their wrist.
The new generation of traveler is the citizenM (M is for Mobile). The citizenM traveler is a frequent traveler going to the major cities of the world, travels for work or pleasure or both. He is conscious about value, cares about quality, luxury and quite protective of his time. He doesn’t want to waste time, but wants things to be easy, efficient and friendly.
Once the mobile citizen profile was established, it was easier to figure out what does a citizenM traveler want from a hotel; The result was 5 main things:
* Lifestyle- ‘You are where you sleep’. When you walk into a hotel you want to connect with the vibe and the atmosphere. You want it to fit with your lifestyle. You also want to feel comfortable and at home. And when you are at home, you spend most of your time in your living room or your kitchen, and you mainly use your bedroom for sleeping. So this is what hotels should be like. Instead of a small lobby, citizenM Hotels; lobbies are built like oversized living rooms. All hotels are designed by Concrete, Amsterdam, and the furniture are all by the Swiss luxury brand, Vitra. Each hotel has contemporary Art that comes from the chain’s private Art collection and the chain has an in house stylist who travels all over the world, collecting authentic items to put in the hotels’ living rooms, so it really does feel like a home.
* Efficiency. Self check in and check out. You can be checked in within 60 seconds. citizenM likes working paperless, and most communication is via emails. Your room-key is an RFID card, that also doubles as a luggage tag and you can use it any time and at any hotel of citizenM. You can also use the room-key to pay for food and beverage.
* Luxury. Even though rooms are quite small, you will have a luxury sleeping experience thanks to the 2×2 meters beds with the custom made mattresses by Sealy, Italian linen and super fluffy pillows. The shower amenities are all designed by Alessandro Gualtieri who spent months perfecting the citizenAM and PM fragrance for the hotel chain.
* Technology should be simple, user friendly and has to work! All rooms run on a customizable ambient server. Each room has his own mood-pad (designed especially for citizenM by Samsung and Swisscom). The mood-pads are all one-touch, easy to use. You can change the color of the lighting, the intensity of the lights, temperature, different types of alarms (wake up gently by a woman counting down and the lights slowly turning on, or wildly with the lights on bright and the sound of pingpong balls or elephants thrashing through the room). There are no hidden costs in the room. So you can enjoy free WiFi, free movies on demand and free phone calls (run through VOIP).
* Genuine, human service. This might be one of the most important values of citizenM; Their Staff. The hotel doesn’t believe in segmenting people into functions or positions, and instead, the hotel trains its staff to be multi functional. The staff is citizenM’s brand ambassadors and they embody the typical mobile citizen themselves. Each and every one of them is trained as baristas to make you great coffee, as mixologists to shake you a perfect cocktail, but they can also check you in or out, help you in the room, and they know the city well so they can help with local tips and advice. Therefore, I was so amazed when the bartender who welcomed me also showed me the rooms and gave me a private tour.
Each staff member is purely hired on his/hers personality and those who are going to make you feel at home the moment you walk in the door. (Trust me, I am talking from my own experience). It doesn’t matter if they have tattoos or pink hair, as long as they are great and welcoming people who know their job.
citizenM hotel is all about affordable luxury, comfort and design. As a travel photographer, who is always looking for a great, comfortable and eye-catching design, I am curious and drawn to these kinds of hotels, such as citizenM.
Next time I’m traveling to London or Amsterdam, you know where I will be staying, and you know I will be proud to be part of citizenM.
I think almost every photographer and writer gets curious to find how their article will come out on print. Speaking for myself, I’m always eager to know how the editor will transfer my thoughts, words and images to the readers. I met Karim Rashid in the beginning of June and interviewed him both for my blog and for Style (Signon) Magazine in Israel. You can read more about how I met Karim or how did he find me here.
This is my interview with Karim, translated to Hebrew and published in Style magazine, Israel.
When I was writing my previous post about the Nhow Hotel in Berlin, I mentioned that I was always curious to know what does Karim Rashid eat for breakfast that fuels his ideas and inspiration. What I didn’t know was that a week after publishing this post, I would be sitting in Karim Rashid’s studio in Chelsea, asking him this question in person (!).
Apparently, I am not the only one who google-search her name. Karim Rashid does the same. He stumbled upon my blog and saw the pictures I took of Nhow Hotel and asked a permission to post them on his fan page. How could I refuse to such a flattering thing?
‘Don’t ask him why he wears Pink most of the time’ his lovely assistant Jessica advised me when I got to the studio. ‘It’s just because almost every journalist asks him that’, she smiled. I made a note to myself not to mention Pink clothes, but eventually, even though Karim was wearing all white, I used the Pink Clothes-thing just to break the ice.
‘Well, I believe that Real Men wear Pink’ Karim said, and in a way, he had a point. He sat on a yellow chair right under a painted portrait of his, while I was standing behind his pink (!) desk and pointed the camera at him.
As a photographer, when I am taking someone’s portrait, I always want to make that person feel comfortable and at ease (because it shows right away in the picture). Therefore, as much as I can sometimes get nervous myself, I always try to start with a small talk or a funny story to share. ‘So I really want to know what do you eat for breakfast’ I asked Karim, ‘Just to know what fuels your brain in the morning for inspiration’
‘Well, my breakfast is quite boring, I eat oatmeal and fruits, nothing special…But I get my inspiration from almost everything. Since I was a little kid I used to observe what was around me and constantly draw. The ability to look at things different than other people…you Sivan, are probably aware of it yourself because you are a photographer’
So this is how the interview started…smooth with a mutual artist bonding and a clear understanding that we both look at things different. (note: part of the interview was done on the spot, some details were added afterwards via emails)
What is your approach when you design a hotel? With hotels I design from micro to macro (from the lamp to the bed to the interior to the architecture). I love the larger experiential impact a hotel can have on people lives. With hospitality design or public space, I know that masses of people have access to my designs, and they aren’t just looking at it, they are physically immersing themselves inside my concepts. As a designer you must learn to collaborate. As you can see, I try to experiment with every project. It is not the form that is primary -It is the idea, the concept. I work with the strengths of the client, with their vision and location.
How do you start a new project? I perpetually observe and analysis and dissect everything around me in our built environments. My discipline is to absorb everything I can about a particular subject, and then I sketch for hours developing ideas and most important I think about the human experience, about the social behavior of that particular scenario. Every project is different and usually the process is also. I fill sketch books weekly, and then I bring my designs back to the studio. My team creates 3D renders of my ideas, does research with me on materials, production processes, and then we refine the concepts based on all the plethora of criteria, be it social, economic, or technological issues until my vision is realized.
Where do you get your inspiration from? I learned from a young age to be highly perceptive of our built environment. I drew constantly as a child and trained myself to see everything and to see what most people may not see. Hence when you see everything around you, then everything is inspiring and I become critical of every aspect of daily life. Also each project stems from its own inspiration. Nhow hotel Berlin was inspired by location, and by music. Berlin embodies the spirit of the underground, the dark school of electronic music, the harsh yet intellectual environment, the massiveness, and the desirous need for artistic pursuit. Semiramis was inspired by the sensual Greek Light – so romantic, so beautiful.
What is the difference in designing a hotel than any other building? I love the larger experiential impact a hotel can have on people lives. With hospitality design or public space, I know that masses of people have access to my designs, and they aren’t just looking at it, they are physically immersing themselves inside my concepts. With hotels I design from micro to macro (from the lamp to the bed to the interior to the architecture). Sometimes I design the name, the logo, and brand identity. Of course I cannot touch every experience with a condo, office, or other building and it is a longer more permeant relationship with the user. Also the interesting phenomena of hotels is that I believe one should have a temporary experience that they would never have anywhere else, so there is an opportunity to create a new inspiring experience, like theatre or entertainment, and to propel people into living in a space that stye would have never experienced at home or other places.
What are the next trends in hotel design? (in general) I prefer design that transcends fashionable trends and to work towards and searching for new vernaculars that echo out Technorganic digital world. Just the five major features of the perfect hotel – a real contemporary well designed room that is seamless (perfect lighting, perfect comfort, etc), A heightened sensory experience, sustainable construction and operations, total seamless technology, nude sunbathing deck, and a really well considered and designed gym and spa.
Do you have a favorite hotel you prefer to stay in? (not necessarily one you designed) I have stayed in so many hotels and few are really memorable. I do like Unique hotel in San Paolo – The round 2 meter porthole windows have this beautiful unconventional way of seeing the city from room view, like looking out of a big telescope, while the façade has of course some bizarre nautical semantic. The upside-down half pie clad in green copper (locally they refer to it as a watermelon slice) is really, well, unique. What is so fabulous is the end rooms have curved floors that ride up to infinity, giving this sense of nirvana. I feel like I am in heaven. The lobby is a phenomenal grandiloquent space, and the landscaping is reductive yet poetic. My friend Ruy Ohtake created a fantastic project. Hotel Unique also has a floating glass framed rooftop pool with breathtaking views of Sao Paulo.
What is your motto in life? Globalove
What is your motto in work? I think my mantra is to inspire people through my design and my words
What drives you forward? (not necessarily work related) I have so many things I want to do like own a fashion clothing line, open an organic café, design a private house, design more buildings, design an electric car, etc.
Who and what inspires you?Is there someone in specific? Everything and everyone inspires me. I see beauty in everything!
What kind of advice will you give a young designer? Talent and hard work is the way to succeed.I learned that design is not about a form or shape, but it is a cultural critique, a cultural shaper, a faction of social, political, and economic life. Design is a lifetime experience so learn to learn, and work for others to get as many experiences as you can. Diligence and perseverance is a necessity.
Looking back at your career, would you do something different? I would have found my true self sooner.
If you weren’t a designer… what would you be? When I was a child I wanted to be a mathematician if I was not a designer, but now I would consider being a musician or a motivational speaker or a stand up comic – haha
What do you wish for yourself for the future? I have so much I want to do. I want to design an electric car, low-income housing, a museum, more hotels, art galleries, a fashion line under my name, an eyeglass line, a shoe line, etc. I think every artist, designer, always wants to contribute something to culture and make an original mark.
The first time I’ve been to Berlin was six years ago. I was going through a rough time in my life (a breakup, to be more precise) and needed a place to escape to from New York. I have always wanted to go to Berlin and that was the right opportunity. I’ve stayed with some good friends and walked a lot around East Berlin. The only thing that bothered me (beside my broken heart) was the cold European winter. Back then I was not a photographer yet (I was walking around with a pocket camera) and was quite in distress. Therefore, this recent visit was sort of a redeeming experience.
Presently, there is a buzz going on about Berlin. I know some Israelis who are investing in Real Estate and some International Artists who find an inspiration in this city.
If I have to describe Berlin in one word, it will be Urbanism. As I was staying mostly in East Berlin, navigating back and forth from Mitte to Kreuzberg, the architecture I was exposed to was a combination of Stalinist architecture, a refurbished 18th-19th century apartment buildings (buildings look like they came out of the same assembly line), Bauhaus style and some nice surprises in the shape of contemporary architecture (lots of big windows and glass) and new modern buildings and condominiums, which are mostly occupied by International residents and young families. I think May is the best time to visit Berlin. Weather is nice and the Berliners are getting quite loose and relaxed right after May Day, the official day that welcomes Spring. If you have an option to choose, than prefer the Spring and Summer days to the Winter ones.
Here is my Berlin’s intake and my express guide to East Berlin; Where to Stay, Shop, Sip and Eat.
My first interaction with GatRooms hotel chain was last year in Lisbon. Since it was a very successful experience, I decided to visit their hotel in Berlin. (If something is working well, I’d better stick with it, right?). One of the best things about GatRooms hotels is their premium locations. In Lisbon it was Rossio Square and in Berlin the location is just around the corner from Check Point Charlie. From there, it is a walking distance to Unter Den Linden, The Jewish Museum, Brandenburger Tor and more. Beside its reasonable prices, the young and hip rooms’ design, the breakfast in GatRooms is great and generous. It is not the typical continental breakfast that offers a toast, jam and coffee. The breakfast is rich and varies from different kinds of breads, cheese, confiture, cereals, eggs and cakes.
The hotel offeres bike rentals (the easiest way to travel around in Berlin like a local) and the staff is extremely helpful.
Hotel Gat Point Charlie, Mauerstrasse 81-82. 10117 Berlin
I have been reading about this store even before I booked my trip to Berlin and intended to go there ever since I read about it in my Wallpaper Berlin City Guide. I love visiting book stores wherever I travel, and moreover, when the book store is dedicated to design , graphic design, architecture and pop culture. Needless to say I was in awe when I got in. Mostly because I was planning to visit this store for a while now. I loved the clean, simple white shelves, loaded with books and the blast of shocking pink color in the shape of ladders and some shelvings. If the majority of the books was not in German, I could stay there forever.
Pro Qm, Almstadtstraße 48-50, 10119 Berlin (closed on Sunday)
Just down the road from Rro Qm, I found this nice beautiful shop KM (I love how the shops are called by single letters). The yellow chairs outdoors just called me in. If I need to describe this store in one word, it will be Minimalism. A collection of various artists (locals and internationals) and a variety of Jewelry, stationary, home accessories and personal ones. I love the yellow walls and how everything, as small as they are, just pop up and make you want to buy them.
I’m not necessarily a flea market’s fan, but I find flea markets quite captivating from a photographer’s perspective. I think that flea markets are like small melting pots. They can teach you a lot about the culture, the tradition, the custom and the style of the city they are located. As the idiom says: ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’, I find my ‘treasure’ in photographing the scene. Flohmarkt is one of the biggest flea markets in Berlin and it is located in Mauer Park. (The name Mauer Park means Wall-Park, named after the former part of the Berlin Wall, which can be found there). Even though my girlfriend dragged me to this market and it was such a hot day, I enjoyed the scene very much. If you are a Vintage junky, this market is for you. Plan it wisely and take a stroll along the Wall.
Nothing can go wrong when the walls of the cafe you have just discovered are colored in pink. I came across this cute cafe while coming back from the Flea Market in Mauer Park on Sunday. When I got in, people were busy having a late brunch which included mostly waffels and crepes. The owner of the cafe was also having a brunch with her family and friends at that time. She was happy to tell me that she was buying most of the products from organic farming and was making the majority of the products herself with her staff. She is using only fresh fruit, fresh milk and organic eggs.
I tend to believe that if my friend Peter hadn’t told me about this place, I would have had to find it by myself. This vintage-look cafe reminded me so much of a place I use to go to in the flea market of Jaffa when I am in Tel Aviv. To ‘try out’ this gorgeous cafe, I scheduled a meeting with Thea and Tony, aka as SisterMag. I loved it when the furniture all looked like taken from a different store or different era, all collected together in one place.
I think there is something going on with waffels in Berlin, as it was also the highlight of the place. (same as in Napol Jonska). The cafe is located in one of the trendiest streets in Prenzlauer Berg in East Berlin. Prenzlauer Berg is one of the most popular districts in Berlin, and one of Berlin’s prettiest neighbourhoods, known mostly for its Art scene. Cafe Kauf dich Glücklich is among the popular places where locals hang out.
Cafe Kauf dich Glücklich, Oderberger Straße 44, 10435 Berlin
Not sure about German food and German dishes, as I didn’t have the chance to try them out. But one evening, while I was strolling in the streets of Mitte, I have noticed a hectic scene and a young crowd outside a buzzing restaurant. It was Monsieur Vuong, a hype Vietnamese restaurant with Pink and Red colored walls, great cocktails and a fresh Vietnamese food. It was actually my last night in Berlin and I wish I would have found Monsieur Vuong earlier. Great variety of food, refreshing cocktails, reasonable price and fun, live atmosphere.
Monsieur Vuong, Alte Schönhauser Str. 46, 10119 Berlin-Mitte
I have always wanted to know what does Karim Rashid eat for breakfast, mostly because I am curious what feeds his brain and where does he get all his inspiration and creativity from. Not once did I pass through his office space on 17th street in Meat Packing District in New York, but I never had the courage to get inside and ask. I have seen his website, I read articles about him but nothing prepared me to see his creations in real, moreover, a big one, such as a hotel. I have heard about Nhow Hotel Berlin only three days before my visit to Berlin and I knew I had to see it and shoot its interiors if possible when I’m there.
Nhow Hotel Berlin is known and nicknamed as The Music and Lifestyle Hotel,mostly because it is the only hotel in Europe that offers two professional music studios, well equipped with recording booth, mixing and pre and post-production options. Therefore, among the guests you can find business travelling cosmopolitans, international jetsetters, night owls and the hottest bands who stay at the hotel both for the love of music and for the great experience the hotel can offer. I didn’t have the chance to peep into these studios but for other public spaces I did.
The hotel is located on the banks of the Spree river in between two of Berlin’s coolest districts; Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg, and has three towers. The East and West Towers on the side of the building and the upper tower which extends beyond 21 metres out of the building over the Riverbank. This silver colored tower serves as a reminder of the former city harbour area on the bank of the river.
If you have the opportunity to stay at Nhow Hotel when you are visiting Berlin, just grab that opportunity. If not, keep reading my post and enjoy the pictures and the visual tour.
The Breakfast Room:
By the time I got into the breakfast room, the food was already taken from the pink bubbly table display. All I could find were colorful membranes that served as decoration probably. The tables and chairs are funcional grey color and a pop art posters of celebrities such as Johnny Depp and Mother Teresa next to each other are on the dining room’s walls. I’m sure breakfast time is quite interesting there.
Just next to the breakfast dining room on the ground floor, separated by a light white curtain, Fabrics restaurant is a blast of colors and a feast not only to the palate but also to the eyes. The color combination of pink fuchsia and minty – neon green is a winner. The restaurant is situated in a corner with glass exterior walls and offers a magnificent view of the Spree River and the Oberbaum bridge. But not only the color combo is a winner. Also the food and the masterpiece dishes that seem to follow a similar color scheme. The head Chef Patrick Rexhausen is creating a new menu every six weeks, based on German-French cuisine. The restaurant is opened for breakfast, lunch and dinner. (Menu can be found here).
The Envy Bar and Lounge:
Imagine a giant golden face hanging over the barman, and matching the golden chairs…Imagine drinking a colorful cocktail, based on sake and tequila, developed by one of Germany’s best bartender, Christina Schneider. Imagine 100 gold, pink, purple and black seats that allow you to dive into comfort, while overlooking the Spree river and sipping a ginger lemonade. This, and more, one can find at the Envy Bar. (No wonder they called it ‘Envy’).
The lounge is just right after you pass the reception. On a blue rug with pink strips, you can either have a drink, rest a bit or just lounge on colorful psychedelic cushions. The big windows are over looking the river and wash the lounge with bright light. The ceiling is dotted with pink plastic tubes.
Taking the elevators has never been so enjoyable and fascinating. Each elevator is in a different color and when you look up, there is always an interesting painting to look at. It reminded me a bit a scene of Pedro Almodóvar‘s movie, probably for the a-symmetric figure.
and once I took the elevator to the rooms and the door was opened, all I could see was that!
I wish I could see most of the rooms in the hotel as I have no doubt they don’t look the same. However, the 304 rooms are divided into three -room categories; Standard rooms, superior rooms and junior suites. What makes the rooms unique is the option to choose between three color schemes; Pink, Blue, Pink/Black or Blue/Black all depends on the rooms’ location. Rashid thought about every little detail and it seems that everything is synchronized and working perfectly; The wall papers go along with the floor papers that work well with the beddings and the curtains. All look like a great visual symphony. Every room has wireless connection and well equipped for PC, Mac, and iPads. The bathroom is separated from the bedroom with a shocking pink glass and I’m sure it offers a great experience.
Karim Rashid is, by far, one of the most creative designers in the world. The short visit in Nhow Hotel definitely left me curious to see more of the other locations he designed and created. Stay tuned for more.
I am really excited to feature Sharon Webber Zvik on my blog. By the time this post is published, Sharon will be in Cuomo, Italy, receiving the Golden A’ Design Award for Graphics and Advertising Design Category in 2012. The gold medal and this precious award will be given to her for the Pain and Suffering Research Branding she did.
It all started five years ago, when Dr. Smadar Bustan from Luxembourg University called Sharon and said: ‘I have an International project on pain and suffering…but maybe you won’t be interested…’ but this sentence only raised Sharon’s curiosity and urged her to learn more on this project and eventually, she supervised its design and branding. ‘I had two requests from Dr. Bustan‘ Sharon told me ‘First, to run away from cliches, and second; the freedom of creativity’.
For the shoot, I’ve decided to take Sharon to Jaffa’s Flea Market, which seems to be one of her favorite locations since she is obsessed with vintage articles and style. Needless to mention the look on people’s faces when they saw a woman in a fluffy white dress sitting on a vintage armchair in the middle of the road….
and here is a promo gif of my shoot with Sharon in Jaffa Flea Market. Doesn’t she look beautiful?
I love to visit and shoot hotels that tell a story. And if the stories are colorful and photogenic, it is even better!
One of the most intriguing, colorful and photogenic hotels I shot recently is Alma Hotel & Lounge, considered as one of the most talked about hotels in Tel Aviv these days. The hotel, which was recently opened in the heart of Tel Aviv, set up immediately a new standard in luxury boutique hospitality in Tel Aviv and in Israel.
Alma in Hebrew means a young unmarried woman. It is also becoming a trendy name for girls these days. In Latin, Alma means ‘soul’. I’m not sure if the hotel is named after a certain woman, but the name definitely adds a mystery and kind of appeal to it.
Imagine walking in dark long corridors that lead into 15 colorful rooms, each one is different that the other. Imagine opening each room’s door, not knowing what to expect. But each room is a marvelous surprise. This is how I felt while I was shooting Alma Hotel.
Everything is well planned in Alma Hotel; from the choice of the building’s location to the Bulgari soaps in the bathrooms or the colors of the pens in each room. I know it might sound like a cliche, but Alma has a rhythm and a character of its own.
Alma is located in Yavne street, at the heart of Tel Aviv UNESCO White City, among a collection of old but restored historic Bauhaus vivid buildings. The building’s history goes back to 1925, as the first private residence designed for families to live side by side in the heart of Tel Aviv. The facade of the building was colored in olived green and the windows and shutters were colored in a darker shade of green. But this is just a hint to what is happening indoors. The restored identity of the hotel is a collaboration between the leading architecture and interior design studio Shaltiel Kastiel and the mosaic and glass artist Lauri Recanati.
The hotel has eight spacious deluxe rooms and seven studio suites, each uniquely designed, telling a different story of the building’s bohemian past. The furnitures are a mix of vintage and heavily embellished unique furniture (hand picked for each room) with contemporary furniture and Art.
I’ve decided to start with my favorite suite, which some may call it (surprise, surprise) The Naughty Library.
The suite (image above and below) has the feel, as Recanati says, of ‘an English boarding school on acid’. The suite has turquoise and black walls with diamond shape mirrors. The red colored rug is a great contrast and blast of color to the room. It matches perfectly with the red background of the book shelves. The Art books collection is quite appealing and I can easily see myself spending few days in that suite, soaking in the colors.
This beautiful suite has a marvelous back bed of a French or Dutch Aristocratic woman. The turquoise colored wall matches perfectly the purple rug. By the bed, there are two beautiful bedside tables made of wood, and a mosaic of ceramic, glass, metal and fabric, by the artist Lauri Recanati.
The following suite can give you the feeling of Welcome to the Jungle but in a very chic style. Turquoise walls, red hot wall-closet and a zebra skin rug on a checkered floor. This room has a beautiful balcony that is overlooking Yavne street. It has a walk-in bathing room, with an oval white bath in the middle of it. I can’t think of the red sofas, but I’m obsessed with the red closet.
If you are longing for an oriental atmosphere, than the street level’s suite can be a great choice. Painted in greens and reds (with an amazing red-white-black wallpaper) and an iconography image of the Spice Trail as a back bed, this suite is a real gem. The heavy brown curtains can create a perfect isolation from the busy street. This suite has the perfect oriental look bath tub of green-blue shades that match the colors of the windows.
And if you are looking for a great restaurant, than you have it right there. Alma Lounge is a bohemian chic space with a mix of Georgian inspired furniture blended with local contemporary Art. The chef, Yonatan Roshfeld, is a well known figure in Israel and the restaurant is one of the most expensive restaurants these days in Tel Aviv ($300 dinner for 2). It is a good way for visitors to meet the trend setters in Israel; restauranteurs, bankers, public figures in addition to expats.
If you are looking for one of the best hotels and the best experiences in the heart of Tel Aviv, look no further. Alma’s professional crew will take care of you; from arranging a personal trainer, special tours in Tel Aviv and Israel, wine tasting, local deliveries, airport transportation, car rentals and even cooking lessons with the in house chef, you name it.
There is nothing like coming to a familiar place for the second time and feel like you never left it. This is what happened to me when I arrived at Lisbon in January for a shoot. I arrived at the airport at 11pm and took a taxi straight to Gat Rossio Hotel, where I was staying in my previous visit. When I got to the hotel, the concierge welcomed me with a ‘Welcome Back Miss Askayo’ so I knew it was going to be a great stay. I raved about Gat Rossio and its young and warm atmosphere in a previous post and it is just getting better.
In my first visit to Lisbon in June I stayed for 48 hours but discovered so much. In my second visit, I already knew my way around and still, discovered so many new places to write about. You can read all my previous posts and recommendations about Lisbon in the following links.
Here is a selection of some new places worth checking when you visit Lisbon; Mostly for their style, design and their great concept.
FonteCruz Hotels is part of the Marriott collection with five hotels in Spain, and the Lisboa hotel (2011) is the first one to be opened outside of Spain and marks the beginning of a new growth route in Europe. The five-starts hotel is located in the fashionable Avenida Liberdade, which makes it a great and accessible location to the city center. The concept of the hotel is an Autograph Collection of old Lisbon postcards. The designer picked original old postcards, enlarged them to a half-wall size and made them as the back of the bed. The hotel is built of two buildings; One is all white, which represents the old part of the city and the other one is all black, which is more modern. The hotel owners also manufacture the Spanish Pinot Noir, which, of course can be purchased at the hotel bar.
Hotel Fonte Cruz Lisboa, Avenida Liberdade 138, Lisboa
If you are more interested in the night life of Lisbon, I highly recommend to stay in the area of Barrio Alto, known as the nigh-life and entertainment district of Lisbon. One of the most beautiful hotels in Barrio Alto is LX Boutique Hotel, which was a historic building, that turned into the current hotel.
Each floor in the hotel is designed and dedicated to a concept related to Lisbon; One floor is dedicated to the fado music, another floor is dedicated to the Tagus river, and others are dedicated to Barrio Alto, the Seven Hills of Lisbon, and Fernando Pessoa, one of the greatest poets of Lisbon. If you are looking for a great night hang out, just cross the street to Pensão Amor, one of my favorite bars in the city.
This might be the most designed hostel in Lisbon, located just across the street from the São Pedro de Alcântara viewpoint, overlooking the Tagus river, Rossio area and Castelo st. Jorge. The hostel is designed and targeted mostly for young travelers who are used to ‘dormitory’ conditions and sleep on bunk beds. There are 90 bunk beds spread across 11 spacious rooms. Each floor has an airy living room with comfortable sofas, where young travelers can hang out and share their experience with other travelers.
If sleeping on bunk beds is not your style, you can stay in one of the four suites Independente offers. The suites are well designed with cute little sun balconies, where guests can enjoy a good breakfast. The hotel atmosphere is very young and hype, maybe because of the majority of the young travelers, and around night time, it is one of the most popular hang out, thanks to the The Decadente restaurant in the ground floor.
The Independente Hostel & Suites, Rua de Sao Pedro de Alcantara 81, Lisboa
I love that restaurant. It is known for its great young vibe, a modern Portugese kitchen and a retro-vintage chic feel. The restaurant, which is part of the hotel, is an attractive meeting place for lunch or dinner. Adjacent to the restauran there is a small bar with a DJ position that plays music every night.
I highly recommend to book Decadenteeither for a dinner or a brunch. Great fresh food, reasonable prices, fun atmosphere and friendly service (The waiter drew for me some directions around Lisbon on the restaurant’s napkins). If you are there on a Tuesday, Decadente offers a new Wine & Dine menu which displays a great selection of dishes and wine tasting by the chef Nuno Bandeira Lima.
The Decadente, Rua de Sao Pedro de Alcantara 81, Lisboa
‘Canned Food goes Gourmet’ is the concept of this new restaurant, which was opened only three months ago in Terreiro do Paco, one of the central locations in downtown Lisbon. Some people might raise an eyebrow when they hear about canned food, but the final result is very surprising and delicious.
Portugal is blessed with fish and seafood, especially sardines, and considered one of the biggest canned fish exporter in Europe, so it was just a matter of time that a restaurant like that will be opened. The menu is rich and diverse, using only Portuguese products. It offers salads, sandwiches, Tibornas (spreads on bread) all presented in a very aesthetic way, accompanied with a range selection of Portuguese wines.
The restaurant was designed by one of the partners, who created a large chandelier, made out of cans. If you make reservations for dinner, you can also enjoy a live concert by a local Portuguese artist. Better make reservations ahead of time for dinner.
Can the Can, Terreiro do Paço 82/83, Lisboa
Lisbon is, no doubt, a surprising city with lots of new places and opportunities.
If you haven’t decided yet on your next holiday destination, or if you already booked Lisbon, I highly recommend to add this post to your list.
On September 2012 I was visiting Rome to shoot RetRome, a boutique hotel in Celio neighborhood, few steps away from the Colosseum. The hotel, managed by two Israelis, is unique by its retro and vintage design and furniture. You can read more about it here, in a previous post I wrote about my experience and my impression.
Today, my photographed article about RetRome is featured in At Magazine, January 2013 issue