Want to stay in the best hostel in Israel?
The Chef Hostel in Tel Aviv has been voted Hostelworld's number 1 hostel in Israel, month on month. I catch up with the hostel's owner, Roy Cohen to find out what makes this hostel so special…
Tell us about the Chef Hostel
I started Chef Hostel in March 2011. I wanted to open a hostel with comfortable beds and large common rooms, and it was opened with 18 beds as a Nano hostel. Within six months we had extended it to three storeys with 54 beds and 8 bathrooms plus the common area in the garden.
Chef Hostel has a relaxed vibe and is more like staying at a friend’s place. Its central location means we’re right in the heart of the nightlife and only five minutes away from the craft market (Nahalat Binyamin), shopping area and Neve Tzedek, one of the most beautiful areas in the city. Public transport is on our doorstep and we’re only ten minutes away from the beach – a great spot!
What makes the Chef Hostel different?
Chef Hostel has everything for the short stay or long term traveller. Our cheapest bed is €16 a night for a large 14 bed dorm (which is 100 years old). Needless to say, it has a lot of character, high ceilings and is very light and is also popular with those staying in Tel Aviv a while.
There’s always a great atmosphere in the hostel with people hanging out for dinner and partying in Tel Aviv in the evening. The size of the hostel makes sure that everyone is in the loop. Our back garden can host up to 60 people for a BBQ and pool party! In the Summer, our hostel is the party hostel in the Middle East attracting the coolest guests from Europe and the rest of the world (25-40 years mainly).
What is the appeal of Tel Aviv?
Tel Aviv is my city and after travelling in Europe, I am blessed to live in such a hot country with tasty food and fine ingredients and the hot weather here helps keep an outdoor lifestyle. The highlight is its creative city economy by simple golden sandy beaches that allows you space to chill in a sea that’s 29 degrees. Or just to sit amongst dozens of action ‘Balgan’ Israelites.
How were you affected during the recent events?
Understandably the hostel got completely checked out with pressure from friends and families to leave. It’s normal to flee a country that is under conflict: an active one. As Israelis, we live under this situation and everyone keeps life as normal as possible in their cheerful ‘Tel Avivian’ way, without even lifting a brow.
How is Tel Aviv now?
Tel Aviv stayed and is now normal. The election is coming soon (22 January 2013) and political events give people more to discuss in cafes. But this is what Tel Avivian people are experts in: living in our isolated bubble of creative doing, going out and doing it all again…