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Haifa – The City by the Bay

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While Haifa on the northern Mediterranean coast is not as much of a tourist center as Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, it remains one of my favorite cities in the world. Many tourists skip it, which is a big mistake. Its beautiful bay reminds many of San Francisco or Naples. And it is a warm, vibrant city with the most successful Jewish-Arab coexistence of any major city in Israel. I absolutely adore Haifa—if I lived in Israel, I would live there.

After years of searching for a good hotel in Haifa, my favorite by far is the Crowne Plaza Haifa, at 111 Yefe Nof Street.

This outstanding hotel sits on the edge of Yefe Nof (Panorama) Street atop Mount Carmel with a stunning view of the city and Haifa Bay below (see picture on previous page). It is not an inexpensive place, but it is very much worth it—big, beautiful rooms, many with a bay view, and absolutely outstanding service! If you have any questions or issues, seek out customer service manager Natalie Kaplan, one of the best hotel managers I have met in Israel. Other options include the nearby Dan Panorama Haifa Hotel, 107 HaNassi Avenue. This hotel offers the same spectacular views (get a bay room), and a great staff and breakfast. But the room décor is quite dated and needs an upgrade, and it just does not compare with the Crowne Plaza (though it does have a spectacular pool, which the Crowne Plaza lacks). Also nearby is the Dan Carmel, another large, upscale hotel. There are also some less expensive guesthouse options, but for the combination of view, updated rooms and facilities, and service, at this point, the Crowne Plaza cannot be beat.

Dan Panorama Hotel

If you stay in this area of Central Carmel, I suggest you buy some fine Israeli wines at a terrific wine shop called Special Reserve at 109 Ha-Nassi Avenue in the Panorama Center, a mall located under the Dan Panorama Hotel A second location has opened in the Ahuza district at 14 Horev Street, tel. (04) 625-5818. Note that Israeli wines are no longer the sugary sweet types that people associate with Passover Seders; they have really come into their own, and these fine wines have won many awards in European wine festivals in recent years. The shop owner is André Suidan, and either he or his assistant Moshe can work with you to find a good bottle in your price range. Ask for André if he is there; he is a truly lovely man who has become a good friend, and he will show you the wonders of some fine, reasonably priced Israeli wines. Just meeting André is worth a stop. Tell André or Moshe that I sent you, and you might get a taste or two to help you choose. Choose some to sip while enjoying that view from your hotel balcony. Or do as I have done on my past four trips, and just buy a case to cover your needs for the rest of the trip!

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