The Setai — Tel Aviv, Israel
If only the walls could talk at The Setai, a property that’s been accommodating people for the last millennia. Located in the ancient port city of Jaffa on the southern fringes of Tel Aviv, the hotel pays homage to its fascinating – and sometimes brutal – history through distinctive design features and Ottoman-inspired decor.
Over a 12-year renovation period, local firm Feigin Architects have carefully integrated archaeological features even as they added two floors and a new wing. Spectacular stone archways date back to its days as a Crusader fortress while spiked iron bars set atop heavy stone windows recall its use as a prison during the Ottoman era. Glance up to spot the royal seal of Abdul Hamid II – the last Sultan to rule with absolute authority before the empire crumbled – stamped in stone above the hotel entrance.
Building upon this legacy, ARA Design have created rich interiors that blend the tech-driven modernity of Tel Aviv with Jaffa-specific references. In each of the 120 rooms, traditional Turkish rugs and intricate, Arabic-inspired light fixtures nod to the hotel’s Middle Eastern heritage. A sunny central courtyard draws upon another tenet of Islamic design while, in the cavernous ground floor bar, jewel-coloured armchairs sit under a glittering chandelier. In the basement spa, a hammam awaits.