A new haven of peace south of bustling Tel Aviv.
As you take the long corridor leading to the lobby of the mysterious Jaffa, the sounds of the city dissipate, the bright Mediterranean light sinks, the magic operates ...
In the old port of the same name - some say the oldest in the world - RFR Holding finally opened its first Israeli hotel. "Finally" because in this enclave where time has declined, it is several decades that the project has come to life. A long-term restoration that fueled the curiosities, giving the visitor the feeling of living a privileged, somewhat unique experience.
This hospital built by the French in the nineteenth century was far from imagining the following years.
The history of Jaffa extends for four millennia. A short visit to its historical sites reveals remains of the Bronze Age, the Pharaonic era, the passage of Persians and Phoenicians, Greeks and Hasmoneans, and many vestiges left by the various medieval and modern conquerors of the city: the Romans and Crusaders, the Byzantines and the Mamluks, the Ottomans and the British. A rich legacy, therefore, and that must be respected. Architects Ramy Gill and John Pawson were tasked with this delicate mission: to transform the former dispensary into a luxury hotel, contemporary but true to its identity.
It was during excavations that the project developed, each new discovery dictating the rest of the artistic narrative. "All strata of history have forced us to act with humility and respect and to minimize our footprint as creators. We feel responsible for preserving the work of previous generations," says Ramy Gill, a local architect in charge of restoration.
When you enter the spacious lobby, the tone is immediately given. A wall dating back to the time of the Crusaders, more than seven hundred years ago, meanders through the inner courtyard. The original building, all in arches and columns, unfolds around this large courtyard dotted with cypresses and gardenias, closes the new building, designed by the British architect John Pawson. It is an intimate atmosphere that reigns in places. A calm and enchantment that invites contemplation. The arrangement of space, perhaps, inspired by classic cloisters and filtering the clamor of the city.
In the rooms, the same simplicity. The faded tones of the old paintings were brought to light, creating shades of pale blue, sweet pinks, and dusty whites.
The walls are bare and pure, stripped of any artwork. The architecture and textures are so beautiful and lyrical that nothing needs to be added, not a single ornament. The ceilings, more than five or six meters high, accent the impression of majesty. Through the windows you can see the colorful roofs of Jaffa, the palm trees and the brilliant blue of the Mediterranean.
Lost in his daydream, in this space out of time, he is surprised to imagine the processions of camels, salt merchants and pilgrims, who have previously passed through the Jaffa.