The Efendi Hotel (aka paradise)

"This is The Best."

Add that to the list of really intelligent phrases Y and I regularly uttered while in Akko, Israel. But we just couldn't help it. Every time we turned a corner, something else really was The Best. Especially at our hotel, The Efendi. 

I came across the Efendi on Design Sponge a few months ago (you have to go look at the post, my pictures won't do this incredible hotel justice). Two ancient Ottoman palaces were merged and preserved to create this hotel that basically puts every other hotel I've stayed in to shame (and I've stayed at the Luxor) (Just kidding, the Luxor was gross.) 

I never thought we would be able to afford to stay at a place like this, but I found a great deal on and, well, it was The Best. Here are seven reasons why:

1. A few steps from our room -- past a giant chess board (think more antique Turkish, less Cracker Barrel-chic) -- floor to ceiling French doors opened up to a patio overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and the mosque next door. We sat on the pillows in the photo below and drank [mediocre] wine out of [beautiful] teacups before walking to dinner. 

2. Our room had a bathtub/flat screen combo, which may look romantic but was really just a place  for Y to watch ha'ish misphacha (Family Guy). 

3. Our room (and every other room in this magical place) had beautiful hand painted ceilings. This picture was taken lying on the floor of our room between the bedroom area and the bathroom area. (yes, Y was looking at me like I was crazy.)

4. On the rooftop of the Efendi, we had a panoramic view of the city, including the Mediterranean Sea on one side and hills in the distance on the other. This is where I most thought Akko resembled Aladdin; looking down on the rooftops of the city, it was easy to imagine jumping from roof to roof -- in fact, several cats were doing it while we watched the sunset.

5. In the morning, we made our way downstairs for Israeli breakfast at a knight's table in a "centuries old room that dates from the early Ottoman Empire." There were tiny yogurt parfaits. Who doesn't love tiny breakfast treats??

6. The Efendi was the best smelling place I've ever been. I have no idea how they made it smell so good in there. I don't have a way to show you this in picture form, I'm not a rocket scientist. 

7. After pushing back our reservation time to enjoy the slowest sunset of life (I thought maybe the world was ending a la this book), we walked through dark, narrow alleys to get to Uri Buri, the restaurant owned by the same person as the hotel. Y and I don't usually love seafood, but we took a chance and ordered a 5 course fresh fish tasting menu, and, well, now I like seafood. But maybe only when it comes straight from the sea. 

That sashimi? It was The Best.