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SUITCASE Advertorial | Virgin Atlantic

With top-notch dining, a notorious nightlife scene and epic stretches of golden beach, Tel Aviv has overtaken popular coastal cities like Barcelona and Lisbon and sprinted to the top of our holiday hit list. Hands down the city break for 2019, this storied capital seems to have it all.

Giving us even more reason to rave (in every sense) about the sunny city, Virgin Atlantic’s new service from London to Tel Aviv is now available to book, with the first flight departing from Heathrow on 25 September 2019. The direct flight – with connections to destinations throughout North America, including New York, San Francisco and Seattle – means there’s really no excuse not to hotfoot it there pronto.

Still need convincing? Here are 10 reasons why we’re about to book flights (again).

1. Thrifting is practically a sport at Jaffa Flea Market

Jaffa’s flea market, known as Shuk Hapishpeshim, is a treasure trove of antiques, second-hand items and one-off finds. A mishmash of junk and gems, the market is also home to some of the most interesting fashion offerings in town. Head to Jaffa to scout out the increasing number of homeware concept stores which have cropped up in this bohemian district. Alongside an array of Tel Avivian fashion designers, contemporary design lovers should seek out Saga and Elemento before frantically checking Virgin Atlantic’s baggage restrictions.

2. Port Said is packed with local food spots

Block out an evening to visit Port Said, a spot packed with locals eating and drinking but often overlooked by tourists. Outdoor dining Israeli style, eat standing up or at a communal table – you can take it as a given that the dress code is “casual” and you may end up sitting on the pavement. What Port Said lacks in ceremony it makes up for in character. Dine at Beit Romano, where dishes are served in cartons and the vibe is unanimously cool. Caveat: you’ll more than likely end up drinking with a lively crowd until the early hours, so come prepared to get stuck in.

3. It’s home to Israel’s first dedicated design museum

Head south to The Design Museum Holon – Israel’s first museum solely dedicated to design. Conceived by Israeli architect and industrial designer Ron Arad, the structure – five dominant bands of COR-TEN steel – is impressive in itself. Inside, you’ll find a dynamic collection of works by knowns and lesser-knowns. With an archive of nearly 20,000 objects, there’s a lot to get through. The museum is open between 10am to 6pm most days, but closed on Friday afternoon and Sunday so plan accordingly.

4. Israeli designers like Galia Lahavare and Inbal Dror are on the rise

For a little fashion fix sample some, well, Sample. Founded by sisters Einav Zini and Nofar Muchluph, the inclusive brand transcends age and body type, and the duo have gained a reputation as one of Israel’s greatest fashion exports. While in town, brides and bridesmaids should pay a visit to Inbal Dror and Galia Lahav’s boutiques. The bridal brands to know, Dror delivers styles which are whimsical yet seductive, while Lahav draws up a more dramatic silhouette – lace and beading galore. All going well, you may be booking an extra seat on your return journey for a bridal gown, or better yet, a groom.

5. The beaches (and beach clubs) are ace

Deciding to go to the beach is the easy part. Deciding on which beach to drop towel is substantially harder. LaLa Land is a local favourite, but sundowners at Manta Ray are equally appealing. If you lean towards the latter, grab dinner at Cantina restaurant after sunset; the pizza is particularly good. Alternatively, commit to a day-long beachside rollick and set up camp at Brown Beach House for retro-resort-meets-urban-design surrounds.

6. Hanna House runs some next-level fitness classes

Somewhere between Soho House and Soulcycle, Hanna House offers a packed schedule of barre, yoga, pilates, HIIT classes, alongside some more conceptual workouts. Stick around post-sweat session to really make the most of their facilities, including a free meeting space, treatment room and even an in-house babysitter. If you’re running close to the wire – your late-morning Virgin Atlantic flight beckons – make a pit stop at Eats Cafeteria and grab one of their “morning boxes” – scrumptious vegan-friendly food to eat as you dash to the airport.

7. The city is home to a number of brilliant hotels

A spate of openings has put Tel Aviv on the map as a boutique bolthole whatever your budget. The Norman is a place to see and be seen, with a sophisticated feel and plenty of outside spaces bringing the air of a countryside retreat. The Alma, meanwhile, was originally designed as a private residence and draws a boujis crowd to Tel Aviv’s White City district (it’s all very bauhaus here), acting as a great launch pad for exploring the city. For understated luxury, head to The Vera, with its neutral hues, duo-level rooftop and bespoke furniture from local designer Tomer Nachson. For more pocket-friendly options, The Dave is a great spot to grab a beer and let your hair down, while art lovers should bed down at the Diaghilev for rooms with urban edge.

8. Miznon restaurant originated here

Those who have visited Miznon in Paris or New York will know just how good the food is here. But Chef Eyal Shani set up the original restaurant in Tel Aviv and the menu – which ranges from pittas packed with fillings such as chicken liver and ratatouille to a show-stopping roasted cauliflower dish – is enough to tempt you into visiting twice during your stay. In fact, there’s really nothing stopping you from refreshing your Flying Club account and perusing your iCal to book your next Virgin Atlantic flight for a taste comparison across the pond.

9. Opa makes us want to convert to veganism

Somewhat scruffy but undeniably hip, vibrant Levinksy Market is home to Opa. The restaurant’s modern facade sets it apart from an otherwise ramshackle row of grocery shops and knick-knack stores – and its cuisine is equally “other”. Food, prepared by chef Shirel Berger is clean, minimal and locally grown. All vegetables are sourced from one family-run farm 40 minutes outside Tel Aviv and the menu presents whatever is picked that week – expect anything from mint Jerusalem artichokes to oyster mushrooms in tapioca. Dishes are intended to please the eye as much as the palate – and interiors are just as delectable. Neutral plaster walls and buffed-concrete flooring complement ceramics by Telavivian makers, while decorative lights designed by Craft & Bloom set a suitably seducing mood.

10. Nightlife, nightlife, nightlife

Whether it’s early evening or early morning, Tel Aviv caters to all your party needs – and then some. Start with rooftop sundowners at Speakeasy, then head to Drama, the capital’s self-proclaimed “recreation area” featuring a cocktail bar, mingling yard, gallery and dance floor. For something a little more rustic, The Beer Shop is well-stocked with 20-30 craft beers served in anything from thimble to litres measures, while Japanese-inspired Herzl 16 is another favourite thanks to creative cocktails and live-music performances. If you’re keen to check out Tel Aviv’s homegrown DJ talent, party alfresco with locals at Kuli Alma – a beer-garden-slash-nightclub where the only indoor area is the dance floor.

The Lowdown

Virgin Atlantic flights from London Heathrow to Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport are available to book now, with the first flight departing on 25 September 2019.

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