Just because a city is ancient in the extreme doesn't mean the accommodation there needs to be, and the funky Mamilla Hotel in Jerusalem is a contemporary case in point.
Just a few minutes walk from the Old City, the Mamilla has 194 comfortable rooms and suites sporting a range of mod cons including mirrors with inbuilt TVs and liquid-crystal bathroom walls that change from see-through to opaque at the press of a button.
While the rooms are great, the real attractions are the various restaurants and bars, including the Mirror Bar, which specialises in cocktails and gourmet bar snacks with regular DJs. The Mamilla Café is best for lighter meals and for anyone needing a caffeine hit the Espresso Bar in the lobby is the place to be. The main Dining Room is best for breakfast and has a lovely terrace for summer dining, but the star of the show is the Rooftop Outdoor Lounge & Restaurant with killer views across the Old City.
After a day's exploring of one of the most fascinating cities in the world, the excellent and award-winning Akasha spa offers western and eastern style treatments.
Why We Love It
Because the ambience at the Rooftop Lounge, and the views across the ancient walls of Jerusalem, are second to none
The beautiful but stark Negev desert was once somewhere to observe from the window of an air conditioned car on route to Eilat and the Red Sea, but the opening of the Beresheet Hotel in 2011 has changed all that.
An hour and a half south of the Herodian fortress of Masada and perched on the precipitous edge of the awesome Ramon Crater, Beresheet is a low rise, rock built hotel that blends in beautifully with the surrounding and dramatic desert scenery.
The accommodation is made up of rooms and villas, some of which are perfect for families, and many of which have plunge pools and views out over the crater rim.
The excellent restaurant uses ingredients from local organic farms and serves wines from the vineyards springing up in the region, and if guests can resist the strong urge to spend the rest of the day lying by the infinity pool admiring the unbelievable view, there are activities on offer from 4x4 safaris in the crater itself and camel safaris.
Why We Love It
There are infinity pools, and then there's the infinite view from the pool at Beresheet which is nigh on unbeatable.
Royal Beach Tel Aviv
The new Royal Beach Hotel is the first large luxury hotel in Tel Aviv since way back in 1999. It was well worth the wait.
With 230 rooms across 23 storey and all with views (and most with balconies) looking out over the beach and Mediterranean beyond, the Royal Beach Hotel Tel Aviv is a contemporary bolthole for couples and families alike, with the spacious 15th to 19th floor suites particularly perfect for parents and children.
All the very comfortable rooms and suites have the expected creature comforts from free Wi-Fi to LCD TVs but guests will doubtless want to make the most of the large outdoor pool (with adjacent toddler pool) and the beach a few footsteps beyond. There's also an indoor pool on the fourth floor.
Guests can enjoy excellent Israeli breakfasts and other meals in the beach-view West Side restaurant, and for a change of scene the four-storey tall lobby has a bar serving tapas and drinks. The lobby is also home to a constantly changing roster of paintings and digital art from young Israeli contemporary artists.
Finally, after wandering around the so-called White City, put those weary feet up in the Carmel Forest Health Resort & Spa, complete with treatment rooms and a hammam steam room.
Why We Love It
Because the location is hard to beat, right on the city's famous boardwalk with the beach beyond, but also within walking distance of highlights such as the nearby Carmel and Nachalat Binyamin Street Markets
With apologies to Normans everywhere, the funkiest new luxury hotel in Tel Aviv could have come up with a cooler name. Moniker aside, we are extremely excited about The Norman - great location, iconic Bauhaus exterior (created from two 1920s buildings), Israeli contemporary art adorning the walls and immaculate rooms. Oh, and a rooftop pool.
There are just 50 rooms in total, with 30 at 25 Nachmani Street and the remaining individually furnished suites in neighbouring number 23. All the rooms have the latest multimedia mod cons and elegant en suite bathrooms.
The hotel's signature Norman Brasserie (there's that name again) specialises in Niçoise cooking under the expert eye of executive chef Barak Aharoni, served in a sophisticated central dining room, complete with champagne and wine bar. In summer the al fresco Pavilion in the garden is a pleasant alternative dining venue. Elsewhere, Dinings restaurant offers itzakaya Japanese 'tapas' in a contemporary space where diners can see the Japanese chefs in action, or enjoy the summer sunshine on the open air terrace. Finally, the Library Bar is designed to evoke the 40s and caters for guests seeking light all-day dining, afternoon teas, pastries created by the in-hotel pastry chef and, come evening, cocktails while the resident DJ struts his stuff.
The Norman Wellness centre has several treatment rooms, including two on the terrace, and offering everything from massages to hot stone therapies. And then there's that pool, with views from the third floor out over the city.
Why We Love It
If you can drag yourself away from the rooftop pool, there's a regular shuttle bus to the beach nearby.
Alma Hotel & Lounge
In the running for best boutique hotel in Tel Aviv, the Alma Hotel & Lounge sits pistachio pretty in the heart of Tel Aviv's famed Bauhaus White City district.
The sensitively restored four storey building dates back to 1925 but opened for the first time as a chic boutique hotel (and to widespread acclaim) in 2013. In all there are just 15 rooms, including eight deluxe rooms and seven individually designed suites which all have balconies.
The look? Electrically eclectic. While the designers have preserved a pleasing number of period features, there are plenty of contemporary colour schemes, and the designers' magpie eye means guests can enjoy flavours and designs from the Orient to the Ottoman Empire. Renowned artist Lauri Recanati adds to the pleasing mix with her elegant mosaic and glasswork.
The Alma Lounge restaurant is the latest from Tel Aviv's chef du jour Yonatan Roshfeld, the man behind such popular venues as Tapas 1 and Herbert Samuel. The emphasis is on fresh seasonal produce, slick service, cocktails and most importantly, fun.
Finally, while there is no spa, per se, the hotel's all-knowing concierge can arrange massages, cooking lessons and even theatre tickets.
Why We Love It
For romantic dinners a deux book a table on the secret roof terrace of the hip and happening Alma Lounge restaurant.
Six Senses Shaharut
Set within Israel's starkly beautiful Nagev Desert, Six Senses Shaharut offers an enchanting escape in the wilderness. Designed to blend into the natural landscapes, the luxury hotel is nestled into a dramatic cliff with sweeping panoramic views over the dusty desert and rolling dunes.
There are 60 suites and villas at the property, all with uninterrupted views, a private en suite bathroom and stylish interiors, featuring a serene colour palette, offset by eye catching artisan crafts. Some rooms also come with a private swimming pool and additional living area for an added sense of space and luxury.
During your stay, tuck into fresh seasonal produce at the hotel's Midian restaurant which serves a progressive menu, centred around Mediterranean and Israeli influences and accompanied by a wonderful wine list. For lighter bites, take a seat on the Zula Upper Deck, which serves Middle Eastern-style mezze and tapas, together with Israeli barbecues and sundowner cocktails. As evening rolls in, unwind with handcrafted cocktails and homemade infused liquors at Jamilla - the hotel's laid-back lounge bar - or at the Arava Pool Bar.
After days spent venturing into the wilderness on dawn and dusk camel treks, guided hikes and mountain biking adventures - return to the hotel for pampering wellness treatments in the spa. Home to saunas, steam rooms and hammams as well as a fully-equipped gym and yoga studio, it's the perfect place to relax and unwind.
Why We Love It
The food at Six Senses Shaharut is exceptional with locally-source produce and fresh vegetables grown on the property's farm crafted into delicious dishes by the hotel's talented Israeli chefs.