For art lovers the Diaghilev Live Art Hotel should be at the top of the list for accommodations. Not only is the City Center location ideal for exploring local galleries, but the hotel puts art at the forefront with exhibitions, parties and lectures devoted to the best of the Israeli scene. In addition, the entire property is decorated with original works and a stylish color scheme.
You're headed first to Jaffa, a neighborhood dating back to ancient times with many worthwhile independent art galleries. The walk from the hotel takes about half an hour and will bring you by some fine examples of graffiti street art; if you prefer not to walk you can take the 410 bus to Japheth; about a 15-minute ride. Once there, it's a pleasant stroll around the neighborhood. Be sure to keep your eyes on the buildings as well as the art; this is some of the finest architecture in the city.
One of Tel Aviv's most beloved local artists is quirky sculptor Ilana Goor. A museum of the same name, housed in her home and work space, sits near the water in Jaffa Port. The building itself dates back to the 18th century, but its contents are both ancient and modern, including highlights from her own collection of global art. Of particular interest is the roof garden where towering sculptures vie with the blue waters of the port for your attention. After an hour or two in the museum it's time for al fresco brunch at The Container. A lively spot tucked away on the dock, the menu is high-quality Mediterranean seafood, and the walls are adorned with new work from local artists. Be sure to try the stuffed calamari.
After brunch you'll be heading north to the most famous museum in Israel, the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Unlike comparable institutions in other cities the TAMA manages to remain relatively uncrowded, meaning you can get up close and personal with the exhibits. The museum houses the largest collection of Israeli art in the world along with works from the French Impressionist movement and some excellent Van Goghs. The gift shop here is particularly well-stocked, so leave some time for a thorough browse.
Just a twenty-minute walk west from the museum is Dizengoff Square, which plays host every Tuesday and Friday to the Tel Aviv Antiques Market. The most fascinating thing about this bazaar is the wide range of wares on offer. Pick up a set of Louis XIV dining chairs in one stall, and some cheap 1950s kitsch in the next; it's a surprise every time. Be sure to cover all the ground, this is known as an excellent source for hidden vintage treasures.
Turning south back towards your hotel, take a moment to stop off and enjoy happy hour drinks at Kuli Alma, a hybrid bar slash art gallery with a hip young crowd and a bleeding-edge sense of style. There's no outdoor sign to direct you, so keep an eye out for the small street branching off Rothschild Boulevard and look for the building number. Once inside head for the inner courtyard bar, where you can rub elbows with the bold and beautiful of the local art scene.
Continuing south back toward Jaffa, it's time for dinner at the Nalagaat Center's restaurant BlackOut, currently one of the most-discussed cultural experiences in Tel Aviv. Run by artists who are deaf, blind or both, the dining room here is in complete darkness, and you'll be guided through your meal by blind waiters. It's a truly unique experience, but be sure to make your reservations well ahead of time. Seatings are at 6:30 and 9:00 pm.