London lifestyle & travels with kids and babies
The usual draw for holidays to Israel and Jordan is the plethora of famous landmarks and holy places, but these lands are also fantastic for adventures and as a hedonistic destination. In our 10 days Israel and Jordan we combined the hip beach bars and Bauhaus architecture of Tel Aviv; stopped to take in the tranquility of the largest natural crater of Mitzpe Ramon; and wrapped up Israeli adventures with the gorgeous dolphins of the Reef in Eilat. Israel Jordan border crossing was easy in Eilat – Aqaba; thereafter we spent 3 other days by the Red Sea Jordanian side sailing, snorkelling and chilling; 2 fantastic days in Petra trekking and hiking and then 3 more days indulging into Dead Seas’s salt rich waters.
We flew London to Tel Aviv and back from Amman and rented cars both sides-to properly enjoy the roadtrip at our own pace and leisure.
Founded in 1909, Tel Aviv is all the things Jerusalem is not. It feels secular and tolerant, is packed with modern architecture – including the highest concentration of Bauhaus-style buildings in the world, is hip and party-loving town. A stroll down Sderot Rothschild is a quick, easy introduction to the city’s café culture, diverse population and eclectic architecture. We’ve been first time 12 years ago with friends; we found it on this occasion even more vibrant, boho and filled with fine dining, playgrounds by the beach and cool terraces.
We stayed with Alexander hotel – one of Tel Aviv’s coolest and boutique hotel with a gorgeous roof terrace for breakfasts and sunset drinks. They utterly spoilt us in their 2 beds suite – very chic and functional. There’s also a very cool bar downstairs, a spa and a great location – by the beach, a 2 minute walk to Old Tel Aviv port and 10 minutes walk to the Marina. A dedicated article on Tel Aviv and Alexander hotel in here.
On these holidays to Israel and Jordan we opted for 2 days and nights in Tel Aviv and thereafter rented a car Israeli side for 2 days. Mitzpe Ramon proved a very exciting stopover for our boys and we took our time for them to play with the stones, soak in the dramatic rugged landscapes, indulge into a casual lunch and icecreams.
Israel is a gem great to drive in, cross the country in few hours and so diverse – on our way we encountered the greens of Tel Aviv hoods, surreal rugged mountains and craters and ended up in Eilat for the night.
A quick dip in the pools for the kids and we headed to Dolphin Reef – the super playful dolphins of Eilat greeted us a soon as we entered. 12 years ago we dove with them, on this occasion our boys were too young to snorkel or dive with. The excitement of the month were the purple jellyfish – huge, harmless and fun to play with. And yes, we also witnessed again a couple of dolphins jumping outside the reef but we know they will be back shortly!
We continued our Red Sea adventures on the Jordanian side – the brand new Hyatt Regency Ayla is a great base for pampering and chilling. We sailed, we snorkelled, we jet skied, we sunbathed, relaxed and treated ourselves with some yum breakfasts and fine dining. The Executive Club is a fabulous option and we found ourselves most evenings sipping bubbles and local wines, snacking, reading their book collection and enjoying the sunsets. The Cascade is another fine option and their live jazz and happy hours made the perfect wrap up of the days and seeing the sun going down.
The kids loved Hyatt Regency’s kidsclub and graceful personal and were difficult to be extracted even to enjoy the fun designery pools. Which left the parents to relax and enjoy themselves – this is the perfect base for Red Sea diving or parasailing. Recharged and rested, we left ready for some serious trekking and hiking at Petra. We started in the afternoon on the first day – took our 2 days Petra passes, admired Petra museum about to be open and opted for the main trail – enjoying the reddish tall and narrow canyons and the Treasury by sunset; the Royal tombs and the Sikh – with most of the crowds gone whilst the moon came out.
We spent the night at a peaceful retreat away from the crowd at the remote Little Petra – Bubble Luxury Hotel – the ultimate glamping where the sunsets are magical and one can watch the stars at night from the comfort of their own bed.
The next day we took the road less travelled to the Monastery – not for the faint hearted as the last part is unmarked and quite steep. It proved stunning and exhausting for the little feet but all worth it in the end, away from the all the tourists, mule handlers and souvenir stall sellers. We started from little Petra, drive off-road with one of the locals, ascent of a couple of mountains and some steep descents, breathtaking landscapes enjoyed in peace. And just as we doubted our choice, we spotted the majestic Al Deir – the Monastery. The backdoor to Petrahas been uploaded on Youtube and our dedicated article is here. UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rose City of Petra was first settled around the 6th century BC by the Nabataeans and was rediscovered in 1812 – truly a lifetime experience. We got back to our car mostly on the main trail – more tombs, temples, an impressive amphitheatre and a Roman colonnaded street.
Dead legs and full of dust and broken back from carrying the toddler, we wrapped up our itinerary of 10 days Israel and Jordan with Dead Sea Marriott – the rejuvenating properties of the Dead Sea’s salt-rich waters are well known and the Marriott caters gracefully for families with their 6 pools, array of restaurants, spa and kidsclub.
My kids proved mostly too posh for the therapeutical mud but the adults embraced the wraps fully, including the glorious spa. Floating in the Dead Sea proved challenging for little scars or mosquito bites but once we were in, great fun.
We kept our rental car from Aqaba back to Amman airport and initially planned to see the Holy site of baptism or the natural reserve nearby. However the great hospitality, wines, massages and wraps proved too much of a deterrent to further Jordan adventure holidays – so we just soaked in the gorgeous shades of blue, chilled and spent some more quality time with the cheeky monkeys.
12 years ago we embarked on a 10 days Israel road trip for Easter and loved it; similarly now, we found Easter UK school holidays very busy but great for the weather. On our 10 days Israel and Jordan we encountered 24 degrees in Tel Aviv, up to 30 degrees in Eilat and Aqaba, a breezy pleasant hike temperature of 18 degrees in Petra and 25 degrees by the Dead Sea.
More dedicated articles on our holidays to Israel and Jordan coming shortly. For further Middle East road trips inspiration, check our stunning Oman itinerary: Arabian Sea, Wahiba sands and gorgeous wadis, Al Hajar mountains, Ras Al Jinz turtles retreat.
Disclosure: Many thanks to Alexander hotel Tel Aviv and Marriott Dead Sea Jordan for the warm hospitality and media discounts. As usual, impressions and overexcited kids entirely ours.