Winter lingers on in the UK, but in Eilat the sun is shining and the music is playing

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Winter lingers on in the UK, but in Eilat the sun is shining and the music is playing

A music-themed hotel is the perfect base for all that Eilat has to offer

Coral Beach, Eilat
Coral Beach, Eilat

Blurring the lines between hotel stay and retro music experience, the Prima Music in Eilat swings a little differently. Music lovers seeking a feel-good vibe will find that this hotel hits all the right notes with a different musical theme on each floor, a nostalgia room and a full programme of evening musical entertainment.

Nestled between Eilat’s famed red mountains and the Red Sea, the hotel draws guests in with its coastal-style decor and beach resort ambience. Many rooms have views of the Red Sea, which nicely reflect the bold colour palette in the hotel. Rooms come with cable TV and modern CD stereo system and the bathrooms are spacious and modern. Expect posters of Israeli musicians (our floor had pictures of luminaries such as Ofra Haza and Avi Geffen), rock, pop, Mediterranean (including Ladino) and classical artists.

The newly renovated Nostalgia Room gives guests the chance to listen to their favourite vibes on vinyl. Whether your taste is classical music (listening to Chopin’s Barcarolle as the sun descends), disco classics to set the mood for a night of dancing, or seventies rock for feel-good nostalgia, the room acts as a time capsule, indulging guests with the record-shop experience that has otherwise largely long died out. Guests, including kids and adults alike, happily mingle in this music-themed utopia.

By night the lobby is converted into a stage. One evening we watched ‘Ari Houdini’ marvel the guests with his magic set. His Catskills style schtick included having more birds appearing and disappearing from his arm than Warren Beatty. On the other nights a guitarist regaled the 100-strong audience with Israeli folk tunes, and a singer sang Israeli and western pop songs.

The large seawater pool, surrounded by spacious lawns, palm trees, cabanas and Ibiza-style chillout relaxation cushions, is quiet during the week as most guests go on activities. We took a trip to Petra – a UNESCA World Heritage Centre. Tour companies arrange day visas and guided tours to view the wonders of the capital of the Nabataean Empire. Our Jordanian guide regaled us with stories about the historic and archaeological city in southern Jordan on a five km walk. It is one of the world’s most famous archaeological sites, where ancient Eastern and Hellenistic traditions blend. There is also the fascinating fusion of Hellenistic architectural facades with traditional Nabataean rock-cut temple and tombs including the Khasneh, the Urn Tomb, the Palace Tomb, the Corinthian Tomb and the Deir (monastery). Petra is half-built, half-carved into the rock, and is surrounded by mountains riddled with passages and gorges architecture. All that walking and gazing made us ravenous and we fell on a Jordanian vegetarian platter of baba ghanoush, pita bread, hummus and falafel.

The hotel’s generous breakfast buffet is cooked Israeli style, including a pot pourri of cheeses, salads and breads. Eggs include Benedict and shakshuka, patiently made by the friendly chefs, who are mainly Bedouins or Arabs. The hotel is kosher but it wears its orthodoxy lightly (there are indeed many European tourists and Druze guests). The ample meat buffet is the perfect fill at the end of long day of activities with soup, salads, red meat and chicken. There are also many restaurants around Almog Beach Marina, 300m away.

Guests have use of Coral Beach, which is a small beach five minutes from the hotel. Much more secluded than the main beach in Eilat’s port, it has an intimate quality with a stunning view of Jordan. The hotel’s gym was being renovated during my stay so I made do with running along the promenade, which stretches alongside the Red Sea with the stunning backdrop of the desert hills.

The hotel is five minutes from the scuba diving resort, where you can enjoy guided snorkelling with dolphins. Group tours are cheaper, and fear not – they offer 1:1 instruction to ensure you greet the dolphins and experience the multi-coloured reefs. The hotel is also easily accessible to the marina, jeep tours and camel rides.

If you want to sample the posher restaurants in town and a larger beach, there are two buses that arrive every 20 minutes to take you into town (just 5km away). Or it’s a 10-minute taxi ride costing about 40 – 50 shekels. Although pricey, the Ranch House is still the best kosher meat restaurant in Eilat – with meat imported directly from Nebraska. My 300g rib eye steak was delicious.

Eilat has grown in some sophistication during the past few years. Whilst part of the city is still a little down at heel, there is an emerging music scene. My last night coincided with the opening of the Eilat Winter Jazz Festival. Playing at the Port Arena, Jazz fusion group Third World Love performed Jazz with influences including  African, Yemeni, Latin America, funk and blues. If the sun isn’t enough to warm your soul, the music scene will.

Rooms at Prima Music start from £120

Eilat Tourism Board has a list of recommended guides for Petra

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