Israel's hotel scene reflects the country's newfound confidence, optimism, and affluence. After years of little to no hotel growth, Israel has seen a miniboom in new and renovated properties. The surge is strongest among hotels in Tel Aviv, Israel's cultural and commercial capital, where historic Bauhaus and Eclectic buildings are being transformed into stylish boutique hotels. Although the trend is still in the early stages, districts such as Neve Tzedek and the central White City are now home to bijoux properties like the Hotel Montefiore that are a world away from Tel Aviv's cookie-cutter seafront hotel towers. Next up is Jaffa, Tel Aviv's sister city to the south, where a slow restoration process is paving the way for a new crop of historic hotels over the next five years, including a rumored W Hotel, Israel's first. Hotels in Jerusalem's ancient center, close to the Old City, are also undergoing a minirevival. The action is anchored near the iconic King David Hotel—within snapshot distance of the gilded Dome of the Rock—where the stylish Piero Lissoni–designed Mamilla Hotel opened in summer 2009. Across the street, the Jerusalem Palace Hotel, a Waldorf Astoria Collection property, should open its doors by late 2010. An hour east along the Dead Sea, Israeli chains including Isrotel and Prima have poured millions of dollars into existing hotels, upgrading them with new spas, restaurants, and more contemporary designs. Deals at Dead Sea resorts and at hotels in Eilat are best scored midweek, as these properties typically fill up with Israelis on weekends.
One word of warning: Israel's hotels have long held a reputation for being overpriced, but that's generally due to a different service mentality. Even nicer hotels have a more hands-off and less attentive service style when compared with their Western counterparts. Also be aware that all hotels make religious concessions. Generally, you won't notice these little changes unless you're looking for them. But they can include things like Sabbath elevators, which stop on every floor so that you don't have to push a button, or altered Saturday menus, when chefs are unable to use the oven.