Israeli hotels, restaurants, and cities won a slew of awards as part of the 18th annual Travelers’ Choice Awards announced late last month by Tripadvisor, the world’s largest travel platform.
The awards program celebrates travelers’ favorite hotels, restaurants, beaches, airlines, and experiences around the world, honoring close to 5,000 unique businesses this year, out of the nearly 9 million listed on Tripadvisor. Winners were calculated based on the reviews, opinions, and ratings collected on the platform in 2019, all pre-pandemic.
The travel, hospitality and food industries were hit especially hard since the COVID-19 crisis began earlier this year.
“This has been a tough year for our industry, but the global desire to go and explore, whether the destination is an hour away or across the world, remains strong,” said Lindsay Nelson, chief experience and brand officer at Tripadvisor. “The Travelers’ Choice program is one way that travelers and diners can benefit from the real-life experiences of other people so they can plan their perfect trip that meets their needs, budget, and style.”
This year, awards and recognitions fell under the Travelers’ Choice umbrella in two main groups: Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best, representing the most exceptional and highest-rated top one percent of all listings on Tripadvisor; and the Travelers’ Choice winners, representing the top 10 percent of all listings on the platform.
Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and fine dining
To start, in the Travelers’ Choice Best of the Best group for top trending destinations worldwide, the city of Tel Aviv ranked ninth out of 25. The city is described as a “youthful, modern metropolis with a diverse population” with a “thriving arts community.” Kochi, India ranked first in this category.
In the top 25 fine dining restaurants worldwide, Uri Buri, the popular seafood eatery located in the northern Israeli coastal city of Acre (Akko), ranked 23, up two spots from last year when it made the same list in 25th place.
The famous restaurant took the first spot in the top 10 best fine dining restaurants in the Middle East. It is followed by the Magdalena Restaurant, an eatery in the northern Israeli town of Migdal that serves Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes such as lamb dumplings and seared salmon with tortellini for main, and knafeh and kadayif for dessert. Katy’s, a small French-style restaurant in Jerusalem, ranked 5th on this list.
In the top 10 experiences for the Middle East section for the Travelers’ Choice Awards, The Jerusalem Boutique Tour from Tel Aviv nabbed the 10th spot. The tour offers guests a curated, intimate tour of the Old City on a day trip to Jerusalem. It is the only tour operator from Israel featured on the list. The Premium Red Dunes & Camel Safari with BBQ at Al Khayma Camp in Dubai took first place in this category.
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“I started this tour in 2018. It has some differences with the competition which make a huge difference for the modern traveler,” said Menno de Vries, founder of Jerusalem Boutique Tour, in an email to NoCamels. “We leave about two hours later, we do not switch buses and we have no forced visits to souvenir shops, instead we have coffee stops.”
During the tour, guests can explore the Old City and learn about important historical and religious sites. The tour allows people to bring their luggage along, so the tour can double as a transfer from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Guests choose from various starting points in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
Israeli hotels win Tripadvisor travelers’ hearts
In the various hotel categories for the Travelers’ Choice Awards, Israeli businesses raked in the prizes.
The U Coral Beach Club (Fattal) and the Isrotel Lagoona, both in Eilat, ranked 14th and 24th, respectively, in the top 25 hotels for families worldwide. The Isrotel Lagoona also ranked 17th in the top 25 all-inclusive resorts internationally, and second in the all-inclusive resorts in the Mideast section. The U Coral Beach Club came in third in this last category with two more Eilat hotels – the Leonardo Club hotel and the Isrotel Sport Club – making the list in the 5th and 8th spots.
Tel Aviv hotels The Vera and Market House (Atlas Group) ranked 8th and 21st, respectively, in the top 25 hotels in the Middle East category. The Vera, a post-industrial boutique hotel offering guests a uniquely Tel Aviv hospitality experience, also ranked 16th in the top 25 luxury hotels in the region. The Rothschild Hotel in Tel Aviv took the 22nd spot in this category.
The list with, by far, the most award-winning Israeli hotels was the Top 25 Small Hotel – Middle East where hotels in Israel took 15 out of the 25 spots. These included the Rothschild 71 in the first place, followed by The Rothschild Hotel in second. The Efendi Hotel in Acre (owned by Uri Jeremias, the own of Uri Buri), the 21st Floor Hotel in Jerusalem, and the Villa Carmel Boutique Hotel in Haifa also made the list.
Israeli hotels also nabbed awards in the Top 25 Hotels for Service – Middle East, winning seven of the spots in this category.