The lobby of this massive hotel has intimate sitting areas, each of which features the work of a different artist. The hotel's friendly service and casual atmosphere make it a favorite with tour groups, while corporate travelers enjoy its business lounge. Bowls of fruit and feather duvets are welcome pampering touches, as are the fresh juice and newspapers in the morning. The accommodations, with double-glazed windows that help muffle traffic noise, are designed in pleasant muted colors. The hotel also has a rooftop pool, a glass-enclosed gym, and the option of breakfast on a deck facing the beach.
With a generic but comfortable design, the rooms are newly renovated, with big white fluffy beds, rugs in muted patterns, desks and armchairs for extra seating. Most offer sea views, and rooms with adjoining doors are available for families.
White washed and generously sized, most of the bathrooms offer a separate toilet with its own door and all feature a nice range of toiletries, including not just shampoo and conditioner but also mouthwash.
It's a shame about the elevator bank, which fills the center of the lobby and effectively splits it into two, cutting off the check in from the beautiful view of the sea. But the Carlton's check-in counter has a waterfall wall behind it, a big round table with floral arrangements, and if you turn the corner, that gorgeous sea view.
The Carlton's rooftop pool is its crown jewel, offering sweeping sea and city views. Attendees are on hand to offer towels and bring drinks.
A new rooftop jacuzzi faces not the sea but the city, making it an excellent choice for a romantic dip when the sun goes down and the city lights come up.
The full-service spa offers a broad range of facial and massage treatments, with quiet service.
The gym is newly refurbished and offers a full range of modern equipment. Trainers are also available to work with guests one on one on fitness goals.
The gym features LCD TVs that show a live feed of the beach, so you can check the state of the waves during your workout.
For kosher dining, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better spot in Tel Aviv than the Carlton: Beloved local chef Meir Adoni has two establishments in the hotel, the dairy-kitchen Blue Sky and the meat restaurant Lumina. Both are in high demand, so book ahead.
The Esperanto Bar is lively, with twinkling lights on its open-air patio and pumping music into the wee hours.
YOU SHOULD KNOW Getting into the Esperanto Bar can be frustratingly complicated; reservations are required and the check-in system is clumsy, leading to long queues.
Along Tel Aviv's flat beachfront promenade, walking, jogging or biking are easy. To head into the city, hail a taxi on HaYarkon Street or head one more block east to Ben Yehuda Street, where you'll find most major buslines.
If you can't snag a table at Blue Sky or Lumina, don't fret. There's creative and fresh seafood dishes at trendy Shila (10-minute walk); and there's fresh authentic and spicy Thai at the upscale Thai House (15-minute walk).
If the queue at Esperanto is making you impatient, ditch the line and head to Spicehaus (13-minute walk), where the drinks are creative potions and the hostess is always happy to see you; over at LaLa Land (6-minute walk), you can drink with your toes in the sand.
WHY WE LIKE IT
Tel Aviv's beachfront is lined with big, handsome hotels, and in a crowded field, it can be hard to stand out. But the Carlton pushes the luxury notch a touch higher with not one but two excellent restaurants, a beautiful pool, gorgeous and modern rooms, and quality service.