Thursday, October 8, 2009
Looking for a hotel in Tel Aviv is easy, a google search of "hotels tel aviv" returns 3,580,000 results and 11 advertisements. All this action is driven by Google's search and advertising system. People search for hotels and therefore bloggers and web site developers write about hotels. In comparison "restaurants tel aviv" gives only 1,880,000 results and 3 advertisers, most pages are written by locals for locals, "rock climbing tel aviv" gives 18,200 results and "judo tel aviv" give 55,900 results. But google and most of the hotel sites usually don't tell you much about where you are and where to find that fun and interesting "stuff". Stuff you can do, places to see, experience like the native Tel Avivians. To hard core bikers and surfers, niche sport sites can be a better place to get information on hotels near where you are going to be doing your activities. Other information such as experience with a rental business or where to find a diving partner may direct you to the part of town where to stay. I spoke with a SCUBA instructor and he explained how the one rental shop on the water may not be the best choice for experienced divers. Although most divers come to Israel for Eilat on the Red Sea, there is still good diving around Tel Aviv, so ask a local diver. There are also groups that will give you information and even let you tag along when they dive together. There are other places to dive just north and south of the city, in 45 minutes you can be in Caesarea and dive among Roman columns from a 2000 year old pier.
If you are looking for a hotel in Tel Aviv, you may want to find other things first. On a business trip and want to Kayak? Make sure you can get to the Tel Aviv marina just off Gordon street. You can also ask someone in a nearby hotel for a boat reservation. If you stay far away from the beach it may take more time and trouble than it's worth during morning traffic. The same goes with Judo and rock climbing. There is a rock climbing wall in the Ha'yarkon park, if you are staying in the very north section of the beach area it's a walk away. Would you like to start your day biking or running in the park? Ha'yarkon park runs along the whole city from the Mediterranean eastward through Ramat Gan and Bnei Brak. It has long paths, is well maintained and even serious runners on most mornings would appreciate the scenery.
If you are looking for cultural events, music, theater, museums and galleries the center of town is a better choice. Within walking distance from Dizengoff circle are theaters, museums and live music bars. This can be handy on most evenings where parking for any event is practically impossible. The few small hotels in this area have a range of prices and service levels. In the center of town you are also closer to shops and restaurants. If you need to entertain someone there are plenty of choices here. The central part of Tel Aviv is older and more densely built. Here are also small boutiques and streets lined with interesting architecture. This is the old Tel Aviv that has taken the name "The White City." Mostly built hurriedly in the 1920's to the 1940's it boasts a beautiful world class collection of Bauhaus buildings.
If you are in Tel Aviv and need to travel out of the city, consider hotels closer to Ayalon Highway and Route 4. The north railway station (Sovidor Merkaz) and Ramat Gan diamond district (The Bursa for locals) has a few good hotels (Sheraton is a high rise building just across the bridge from Tel Aviv.) The Bursa area is also an international business center and recently the home for high tech companies. Ramat Gan has become the most densely populated Internet gambling software center in Israel (some say the world.) Another technology business area is the Atidim district in the north east of Tel Aviv. This area has not developed hotels for tourists but does offer many restaurants and bars. Here you can still go out at night but most people would suggest that you stay in Ramat Gan or even in north Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv University (this is a private institution unlike the Hebrew University in Jerusalem or Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva) is in the north of Tel Aviv. It is located in the Ramat Aviv section which is residential. You may want to stay in the north part of the beach near the old Tel Aviv port if you are going to Tel Aviv University.
This is an introduction to how to pick a Tel Aviv hotel based on leisure and business preferences. Each section of Tel Aviv I mentioned will get more details in upcoming articles. Tel Aviv is a small city and you can get around by public transportation, but if you are coming for a few days, your stay will be more pleasant by planning a little and having fun things next door.