Just minutes from the front door of the Melody Hotel, pictured above, two brides walk the shoreline. White dresses trail the fine sand beach, but with the glint of the setting sun on the teal blue Mediterranean sea, it takes a few moments for the scene to register. Plus, they are holding hands.
Then it hits: the “brides” are actually men.
“Cut” is yelled, and I turn to find a gaggle of gay men sporting cameras and make-up brushes; I’ve busted in on the filming of a commercial, an advertisement for Tel Aviv gay life.
Still, it’s Tel Aviv – meaning no one blinks an eye at the men in drag. Just a five minute walk from the Melody, this is the unofficial “gay” beach, but only yards to the right is the “dog” beach and just around the curve of the picture-perfect bay is the a sex-segregated Orthodox swimming zone. Here, on alternate days, men and women dip just out of the public eye.
The Melody Hotel belongs to the chair of Israel’s well-recommended Atlas hotels: modern, sparse and sporting the motto “WORK + PLAY”, it’s a great base to explore Tel Aviv’s northern end – or get work done. Or both.
Independence Park with a great outdoor mini-gym is just across the street: the beaches at this end of town are pristine, and a boardwalk snaking the full length of the city is within a stone’s throw.
The hotel provides free use of beach bikes with which to cruise this bike-friendly city, and pedaling to the other end of town, or even historic Jaffa, is an easy ride.
Israeli breakfasts are vast and notable and the Melody’s delivers. Don’t think ‘continental’ – rather imagine a buffet of salads, fruits, cheeses, breads, hot entrees, eggs, dried fruits and pastries, accompanied by hot coffee and fresh juices. In addition, an evening spread of fruit and finger food is laid out from 5:00PM, along with complimentary wines. With a gay-friendly staff and a mixed clientele, the Melody is a perfect choice for North Tel Aviv digs. And the rooftop patio gives a sweeping view of the city in all directions.
Meanwhile, in the southern end of town, the Nina Cafe Suites Hotel provides intimate suites and studios long on old-world charm. Tucked into the gay friendly neighborhood Neve Tzedek (though most of Tel Aviv is seriously gay-friendly), suites at the Nina are very euro-boutique: lux linens, eclectic drapery, and all the accoutrements that one wishes for: TV, wireless internet, appointed kitchens, and high-end toiletries.
Some rooms are fronted by balconies furnished with club tables perfect for watching Neve Tzedek’s parade of fashionistas. Café’s and nightlife are within walking distance, including the fabulous Joze and Loze restaurant where gay is de-rigueur (along with great, fresh food and drinks). The city’s gay and lesbian center and its casual park side café is also a saunter.
The Nina provides an ample order-what-you’d like breakfast in their street side café with fresh breads, cheeses and smoked fish. A skilled barista is always at the ready.
A stay at both Tel Aviv bookends – the Melody on one end of the City and the Nina on the other – balances the best of what this vibrant city offers. Spring rates 2011 at the Nina start at $250; The Melody at $194. Book online for special rates.
- Tel: +972-3-5425555,
- Fax: +972-3-7608920
- 220 Hayarkon St, Tel Aviv, Israel
Tel Aviv Gay Center:
Nina Café Suites Hotel
- Tel: +972 52 508 41 41 | +972 3 5105239
- Tel: +972 52 508 40 40
- 29 Shabazi St. Neve Tzedek, Tel Aviv, Israel
Kenes Tours (Gay-friendly tours.)