In Tel Aviv, a futuristic hotel with a past

Jan 25, 2018
  • By Debra Kamin
  • The New York Times

Check In 

The Poli House, 1 Nahalat Binyamin St., Tel Aviv, brownhotels.com/poli  

Rates  

From $265.  

Basics  

The Poli House, a sleek Karim Rashid-designed property rising above one of urban Tel Aviv’s most trafficked intersections, breathes new life into a Bauhaus landmark that until its recent renovation had seen better days. Previously known as the Polishuk House, the ship-like structure was first bought by Yehuda Polishuk, a Ukrainian immigrant who arrived in pre-state Palestine in 1934 and leased its three curving floors to businesses including a shoemaker and a printing press. Israeli architect Nitza Szmuk, an expert in preserving the historic buildings that make up Tel Aviv’s UNESCO-designated White City, took care to maintain the building’s original curved staircase and to source Italian tiles that would resurrect the original external facade. But while grounded in historic Tel Aviv, the Poli House, which opened in 2016, is a futuristic fun house: Guests are whisked from its street-level entrance and art gallery to the neon rooftop lobby via translucent elevators, common areas feature egglike pod chairs in fluorescent yellow and pink and corridors are ringed by cheeky phrases of scrolling LED text.  

Location  

Spitting distance from the city’s largest outdoor fruit and vegetable market and overlooking Allenby Street, one of its major traffic arteries. The beachfront and trendy Rothschild Boulevard are within walking distance.  

The Room

My second-floor “Poli+” — a middle-category room — was a study in contrasts. Black walls and thick charcoal carpet were brightened by tessellating series of slim white stripes, while the door and closet popped in bright chartreuse. The plush double bed featured a fluffy white duvet and pillows. A cocktail shaker and a bottle of the licorice-flavored Middle Eastern tipple arak awaited me on the U-shape writing desk, while a concave neon shelf carved out just above the headboard was fitted with asymmetrical drinking glasses (the better to sip it with). And while my floor-to-ceiling windows doubled as sliding doors opening onto a trim balcony above hustling Allenby Street, they sealed shut and I was well insulated from street noise overnight.  

The Bathroom  

Rashid’s unconventional aesthetic was most evident in the bathroom, where the door swings sideways to double as a barrier wall between toilet and shower stall (there was no tub) when needed. An oblong mirror and circular basin sink continued the geometric theme, as did slightly slanting shelves and the Leaning Tower of Pisa-inspired bottles of complimentary toiletries.  

Amenities  

There is a minibar in the room and free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel. The rooftop has a heated infinity pool with Mediterranean views, as well as a circular cocktail bar and spa suites for massages. Bicycles and guest passes to a nearby gym are available.  

Dining  

With no in-house restaurant, dining options are limited, but the staff encourages guests to take advantage of the surrounding neighborhood by providing local guidebooks and delivery menus for nearby establishments. Breakfast is served in the adjacent LovEat cafe, an organic, vegan-friendly coffeehouse chain where hotel guests get private access to a garden terrace. Coffee, cookies and free-flowing champagne are available in the street-level gallery space 24 hours a day.  

The Bottom Line  

In a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood, this glossy, digi-pop inspired hotel pays homage to its urban neighborhood with the right balance of history and high-end fun.