Israel, Jordan and Egypt are packed with historical sights and architecture, but head to the capitals and your clients will find a city break with a difference, says Jo Gardner
What to see: With its sandy beaches, quirky cafes and easy-on-the-eye locals, Tel Aviv is as historical as it is hip. Tick off the main sites – Rabin Square, where prime minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated; Old Jaffa, one of the oldest port cities in the world; and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art – before mooching around the neighbourhoods.
Nachalat Binyamin is a traffic-free mall where live street music and arts and craft stalls await, while in Sheinkin you’ll find more independent shops and cafes than you can shake a coffee bean at. Suggest your clients don’t leave without finding a spot on the beach to watch a volleyball match – or to simply marvel at the sparkling sea.
Where to sleep: Costas Anastasi, product manager at Cyplon Holidays, recommends clients stay at the five-star Royal Beach Tel Aviv for a conveniently located chic stay. “This hotel from the Isrotel Exclusive collection is ideally located along the famed Herbert Samuel street, adjacent to the Tel Aviv coastline, providing direct access to the beach,” he says.
The hotel towers at 19 storeys with all rooms benefiting from sea views. “The interior design is modern and chic, with facilities including a popular Israeli- Mediterranean gourmet restaurant,” adds Anastasi.
Things to do: For breakfast, head to Benedict, the first restaurant in the world to serve breakfast around the clock. Get the morning off to a zing with scrambled eggs in tomato sauce with chilli peppers, onions, paprika, cayenne pepper and nutmeg.
Farmers’ markets are another way to experience Tel Aviv’s innovative culinary choices – clients can head to Carmel Market where farmers and young entrepreneurs run cooking courses and demonstrations.
For an evening meal, you can’t beat the fish shawarma at Joz ve Loz, a retro spot with mismatched furniture and a good selection of fruity wine. For a nightcap, head to Bar 223, a cocktail bar with a cool New York vibe.
Book it: Cyplon Holidays offers a five-night stay at the Isrotel Royal Beach hotel on a B&B basis including flights and transfers from £1,299pp based on two sharing. cyplon.co.uk
What to see: Amman is an ancient city with tree-lined streets, elegant houses, modern architecture, independent shops and a cosmopolitan vibe. Clients can visit the Roman ruins and the remains of Neolithic, Ammonite, Assyrian, Persian and Ottoman civilisations before discovering the fascinating ruins at the Citadel, which is surrounded by mosques, souks and cafes.
The ancient Roman theatre is a must too – tell clients to come early or late to capture images of the sunrise or sunset. Art lovers should make a beeline for the Darat Al Funun contemporary art gallery, which exhibits work by Jordanian artists – this year sees the penultimate celebration of the museum’s 30th anniversary. Car enthusiasts will love the Royal Automobile Museum too, which displays more than 70 classic cars from King Hussein’s personal collection.
Where to sleep: The four-star Al Qasr Metropole hotel, located in the Shmeisani business district, is within walking distance of the major shopping centres and cultural streets of Amman. The modern hotel has 66 rooms spread across six floors, together with several bars and restaurants, including Vinaigrette, which offers spectacular city views from the top floor of the hotel.
Things to do: If all that exploring has worked up an appetite, clients can head to Al Quds or Hashem, two Jordanian institutions frequented by locals for a quick yet filling meal of falafel, hummus and other mezze dishes. For a taste of classic Jordanian cooking, tell them to head to Beit Sitti, a social enterprise run by three sisters who open their family home to hungry visitors.
Cantaloupe is the best spot to watch the sunset with a cocktail in hand, or try the bar’s second location in Abdali, a sports rooftop terrace overlooking modern, western Amman. “I remember taking my wife to La Maison Verte for an anniversary dinner,” recalls David Wiles, director at Discover Jordan. “It’s French and very romantic – a great place for a celebration.”
Book it: Discover Egypt offers a seven-night private escorted Classic Jordan tour from £1,599pp including flights, transfers, accommodation at the Al Qasr Metropole hotel in Amman, further accommodation in Petra and the Dead Sea, and guided sightseeing. discoveregypt.co.uk
What to see: Cairo has arguably some of the world’s most iconic historical sites including the Pyramids and the Sphinx, as well as temples, tombs, churches, mosques and museums reflecting past and present. The Egyptian Museum is one of the world’s most famous, housing collections of ancient artefacts.
Built in 1814, the medieval Salah Ed-Din Citadel is another must-see with its mosques, carriage and garden museum. “New archaeological finds are being made every year, says Discover Egypt’s commercial director Philip Breckner. “Even people who have been to Egypt before can see new tombs and monuments when they visit again.”
For something really different, suggest clients head to the Omar Khayyam Casino in the Marriott Cairo Hotel to watch a belly dancing show.
Where to sleep: The five-star Marriott Mena House overlooks Giza’s great pyramids, providing spectacular views of these ancient marvels. The hotel is set across 40 acres, offering ample space and an abundance of lush greenery. Guests will find an outdoor pool, a spa and fitness centre, an authentic Italian restaurant and a Middle Eastern and Indian restaurant.
Things to do: One of the best ways to capture panoramic views of the city is to head to the observation deck of the Cairo Tower. Clients can take the opportunity to dine in the restaurant or enjoy a few drinks to sip while watching the sun go down.
For a panorama of the river Nile, suggest more cocktails at the Stage One Lounge and Bar in the five-star Conrad Cairo hotel where live music is scheduled most evenings. If they’re still peckish, recommend a visit to Felfela, which has been serving some of the city’s best falafel since 1959, and stays open until midnight.
Book it: Five nights at the five-star Marriott Mena House with Abercrombie & Kent starts from £2,040pp including flights, transfers and accommodation in a deluxe garden wing room on a B&B basis. abercrombiekent.co.uk
Have you sent clients to Tel Aviv, Amman or Cairo recently? Got any insider tips you'd like to share about what to see and do there? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know your thoughts or leave a comment below.