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One hundred yoga studios battle for the attention of Tel Aviv’s wellness worshippers, but there’s a lot more on offer than rigid class schedules and frayed mats. Similar to other big metropolises, as Tel Aviv’s urban scene grows, so does the stress of its inhabitants. Now new businesses are catering to a crowd looking to switch off from cosmopolitan overload through yoga, meditation and massage. Israel is also home to the highest percentage of vegans per capita and these discerning diners know where to get good grub.
The inner city’s wellness scene is pretty high spec; boutique studios, high teaching standards and spa therapists are in tune with trends. And yet, the nearby Dead Sea shows that self-care in Israel doesn’t need to be overcomplicated. If time is tight (and funds are low) lather about in salt crystals while caked in a mud that you’ve scooped straight from the ocean bed.
This wellness community centre’s vibe is somewhere between Soho House and Soul Cycle. Designed in the bauhaus style, the building was named after Hanna Tzizik, a woman who dedicated her life to educating young girls. A packed schedule offers barre, yoga, pilates, HIIT plus some more conceptual workouts. Hanna House encourages members to stick around post sweat session – there’s a free meeting space, treatment room, café and even an in-house babysitter.
According to Japanese owner Yoko Kitahara, the spa scene in Tel Aviv was previously broken up into two extremes: champagne-sipping hens and medical treatments. Creating something in between, Yoko has taken on middle(wo)man status and merged Eastern and Western techniques to create bespoke treatments. Located at the top of a flight of stairs on a Jaffa side street, here minimalist design and stain glass windows create a vacuum of serenity. Treatments start from £87.
In the port area of northern Tel Aviv, you’ll occasionally spot yoga teachers taking classes on the outside decking overlooking the ocean. We say occasionally, because classes only happen here when yogi instructors feel like it (a very Israeli approach we’re told). Choose from Ashtanga, Vinyasa and Iyengar and get read to stretch. Unlike central studios, here you can jump straight into the sea to cool down after the last gong chimes to mark the end of class. Drop-in rates start from £18.
Sunrise Yoga Tour
Tourist Israel’s new sunrise yoga tour includes a excruciatingly early class overlooking the Dead Sea, a hike up Mount Masada and a look around the Ein Gedi Nature Reserve – all of which you’ll complete long before you would have finished breakfast back home. A winning combination for a morning refresh, start with a stretch, a dip in a rock pool and finish with a slathering of Dead Sea mud. Half-day tours pick up at 2am every Saturday from Tel Aviv, costing £80 per person.
Yano Yoga mats
If you like leading your own yoga sessions, then former ballet dancer Tal Yanovski’s range of beautiful yoga mats are a great addition to your kit. Her mats – geometric-patterned and vegan friendly – are stocked in selected studios across the city, such as Hanna House and Shraddha Yoga. Mats start from £40. Word on the floor is an activewear range is on the horizon too.
Brown Beach House Spa
Just off the boardwalk, this modern hotel is the ideal place to dust off the sand. Guests can soak in the jacuzzi on the outdoor patio, and sip on complimentary cava or chamomile tea while they wait for their next treatment. A Swedish-style massage is best coupled with a day at the beach. Treatments start from £62.
Founded by an interior designer and an American artist, here teachers from around the world lead weekly yoga, movement and pilates classes. Shraddha also run various workshops on natural skincare, vegan and raw desserts, drawing and holistic health. The studio is also the only place in Tel Aviv teaching Ikebana, the zen practice of flower arranging. Drop-in classes start from £14.
OPA vegan Restaurant
Vegan restaurant OPA is headed by Shirel Berger, former chef of Miss Kaplan, one of Tel Aviv’s first vegan establishments. All vegetables are sourced from one family-run farm 40 minutes outside Tel Aviv as, according to Shirel, the quality is unbeatable. The menu presents whatever is picked that week; expect anything from mint Jerusalem artichokes to oyster mushrooms in tapioca or fermented plums. Plates start from £9.
A melting pot of arts, culture and great food all under one roof, here the menu offers a healthy but filling selection of small plates for sharing and picking, including cauliflower with mint and parsley, fava hummus with lima bean and brick-oven-baked shawarma. In the summer the staff lift off the ceiling to reveal the stars, a sight best accompanied with a deceptively healthy “herb garden” cocktail that fizzes with remedial sage, rosemary and lime.
As Tel Aviv’s number one wellness empire, Hanna House’s on-site café, Eats Cafeteria, has nailed healthy fare. Their menu changes daily, offering fresh juices, plenty of vegan and gluten-free options and some fantastic coffee. Grab one of their “morning boxes” – compiled for those on-the-go – to satisfy after-class hunger pangs.
At Claro, the farm-to-table menu only use producers within a certain radius of the city. This means you’re given whatever they can get their hands on that week, so guests eat along what the seasons. Served over the counter in an open kitchen layout, expect the likes of Mediterranean fish with wood sorrel, roasted bone marrow with herb salad or aubergine steak with roasted plum sauce and aromatic hyssop.
This bastion of millennial pink was an Instagram sensation. The food is as revered as the design; salads crunch with apples and almonds and their green juices are as zingy as the interior colour palette. Located inside a mall, it’s a great place to stop mid-shop for a refresh.
For those who are into slow eating, this place is a must. Inspired by delicate Japanese dining, a meal at OCD should be considered a mindful experience rather than a quick scoffing (unlike the hummus-filled pittas you’ll demolish elsewhere in town). The tasting menu draws global influenced and changes daily, offering morsels presented on wooden blocks or homemade ceramics. It’s a sensory experience, with chefs explaining to diners how to eat each portion – often fingers are best.
Come here for classes, organic plant-based food or an infrared sauna and treatments. The food is the main draw though – Urban Shaman’s juices are cold-pressed to keep pure nutrients intact (heating can eliminate these) and served in glass bottles. Bestsellers include “coco fix” and their bowl of the day, always packed with whole grains, sprouted vegetables, green leaves and fine Himalayan salt. If you can’t make it down to their HQ, Urban Shaman also have an online shop where they sell detox programmes.
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