Sure, Your Hotel In Tel-Aviv Was Once An Ottoman Jail...

But Now It's Really Nice.

By Eric Twardzik ·

"Joey, have you ever been in a Turkish Prison?"


Anyway, we hope your own answer to that question is still an empathic "no." 

But we're also hoping that your attitude towards such accommodations change once you see this place.

And after spending a few massage-heavy, infinity-pool-occupying afternoons at The Setai Tel Aviv, a spellbinding new Israeli hotel that was once an Ottoman-era jail, now open and booking beside the Jaffa Port.

And that's not even the weirdest thing about its past. This modern, five-building-complex on the Mediterranean Sea, connected through stone and marble passageways that join in a leafy courtyard, was also once a Crusader fortress. Management has taken pains to preserve its history, which explains all the 12th-century stonework and an actual arch bearing an Ottoman sultan's seal. Come take a look at it all.

But they've also added decidedly non-12th-Century, un-Ottoman-jail touches like a rooftop infinity pool overlooking the city skyline and a spa for traditional Turkish massages. There's also a restaurant blending Israeli, regional and Turkish influences. And each one of wood-and-stone-heavy rooms has a Turkish rug. It'd be almost weird if there wasn't.

Anyway, as great as all that sounds, it can't hold a candle to the greatest amenity of all: an on-site synagogue.

So bring your best Bar Mitzvah-crashing suit.

Eric Twardzik

Eric Twardzik is often misidentified as a Dane. Embroidered pants and green Chartreuse are the two things that get him out of bed every morning.

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