I’ll say this to start: See the picture up there? Right behind the green and beige exterior walls is a gorgeously blue body of water, sparking in the morning sunshine.
I can see it now: that blueness, that turquoise-against-the-beige body of water, still and glittering in the early morning.
I’m talking about the Mediterranean, that bluest of blue seas that haunts my dreams and that keeps me coming back to Southern Europe, again, and again, and again. But this time, I’m not tiptoeing around the Italian countryside, spending a week in little Malta, or swimming off the coast in Spain. I’ve flown over the sea and landed on the shores of Israel, and we’ve just driven the hour from the Ben Gurion airport up to the cute city of Haifa, the country’s third largest city after Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.
And what is our destination for the night? The Haifa Bayview Hotel, one of the city’s most elegant and funky accommodation spots along its heart-stopping Mediterranean coastline.
The hotel itself isn’t brand-new, but it’s location is a spectacular starting place for a first-time visitor to Israel. As I mentioned above, it’s strategically located just under an hour from the Ben Gurion airport right at the foothills of Mount Carmel in central Haifa; it’s also walking distance to a number of cute hummus shops, burger joints (if you’ve never been, you must try Burgerim, Israel’s answer to the mini-hamburger!), and bars that are open fairly late. It’s also just a few blocks away from the Haifa Bay and the famous Baha’i Gardens, the sacred center for the Baha’i faith.
Its lobby, too, is a lovely place to grab a coffee, see some funky abstract art hanging on the walls, or plan a hiking trip around the coastal shrubs and desert plants for which Mount Carmel is famously known. It’s also a lovely setting for the Bayview’s signature hot breakfast, which, let’s face it, is always a good selling point with me. Like most of us, I can’t really get started without my hot coffee and some cheese blintzes in the morning. And the breakfast here is, in a word, glorious….full of fresh cheeses, fruits, eggs, shakshuka, yogurt, and granola.
The rooms, too, are a pleasant combination of bright colors, geometric shapes, and wooden accents, and they have at least two handicap-accessible rooms for those who need assistance. The rooms are relaxing and inviting while also having a nice touch of modernity (I tend to like unusual juxtapositions, though, so take that as you will). The bathroom is glass on all sides and has a fabulous wide-rimmed rainshower shower head that can be adjusted to the speed and intensity with which you like your showers. The sink and vanity are similarly edgy and modern (and, HUGE benefit here: the bathrooms are stocked with delicious shampoos, soaps, and conditioners made from Dead Sea minerals!). I wasn’t in my room long, but in the short time I was there to sleep and get jazzed up for our first big day in Israel, it was a perfect place for a few much-needed hours of rest.
I slept for a glorious 5 hours. That bed….a-ma-zing.
In the morning (which came entirely too fast), I peeled myself from the mold I’d made on the left side of the bed, jumped into the shower, used all the sweet-smelling Dead Sea products, put on my flipflops, grabbed my luggage, and flung open the double layers of curtains that had been keeping out the light all morning.
And what did I see?
The sprawling, crowded, metropolitan city of Haifa, known for its beaches, its gardens, its gold-domed shrines and chaparral-like natural preserves.
As I took a closer look, I realized I could see lush lavender flowers, native flowering bushes and juniper trees, rows upon rows of white houses with red roofs all the way down to Haifa Bay, where boats scattered pleasantly along the water. There’s something incredibly special about these moments–that first glimpse, those first moments, when that odd combination of jittery excitement and jetlag makes everything rosy, glowing, and brand-spanking new–that makes travel such an integral part of my life. I crave it; I need it; I can’t find anything else like it in this world.
We’ve been here for just a day, and yet, I’m smitten. The Mediterranean bug bite I got ten years ago is, I think it’s safe to say, stronger than ever.
Welcome to Israel!
At the time of this review, rates are starting at around $149/night for a double room. You can book online or email the reservations team at [email protected] You can also make reservations through agoda.com.
101 Hanasi Ave.
Haifa, Israel 34642
Article by Kristin Winet; photos (except for the one of the view from my room, which I took with my Samsung Galaxy phone) are courtesy of the Haifa Bayview Hotel. Most gracious thanks to Weill and the Israel Ministry of Tourism for hosting our stay during this trip.