Friday 12 April 2013

Shalom Hotel & Relax, Hayarkon St, Tel Aviv, Israel

Situated on a busy road and with a boxy design, the oddly-named Shalom Hotel and Relax doesn't look  that promising from the outside. But it is actually a stylish boutique hotel, tastefully decorated and furnished in soothing shades of white with arty French prints on the walls. The largish rooms feel luxurious - the carpet (and the glazing) is thick, the duvet is soft, the furniture is solid and the safe and television are up-to-date. When you arrive, a platter of exotic nibbles - dates, nuts and the like - will be waiting for you in your room. The free WiFi can be fast, but you sometimes get kicked off, presumably if it is overloaded. Although the air conditioning is loud, it is very effective - the room can be very chilly by the morning. In the en-suite bathroom, there is a trendy square sink and a raindrop shower. But the hotel's best features have to be the breakfast and the roof-top terrace with its tasteful wooden decking and views of the Mediterranean and the towers of Tel Aviv. 

Served in the smart lounge, the buffet breakfast is equally impressive. There is generally a good selection of fish, such as smoked salmon and mackerel, sauces, such as tzatziki, cheeses, including feta and harder varieties, bread rolls, cakes, pastries, dates, walnuts and fruit. The health-conscious may also be tempted by the finely-chopped fruit salad, which goes well with the the thick natural yoghurt. There are also a couple of hot dishes, such as fresh ravioli, a kind of soft bagel filled with cheese and stuffed vine leaves. The assured waiting staff serve fresh, good coffee in attractive steel pots. The only downside is breakfast, which runs from 7am to 10am, can get busy and you may have to share tables with other groups. You can walk off all this fine food by strolling into the nearby Gan-haAtsmaut (Independence Garden), which overlooks the sea. Shalom Hotel & Relax lives up to its name. 8/10