This article is sponsored by Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic recently announced a new route from London to Tel Aviv. Flights can be booked from today for both cash and Flying Club miles.
Starting on 25th September 2019, there will be a daily year-round flight from London Heathrow Terminal 3 to Tel Aviv Ben Gurion airport.
This will give regular travellers to the region a chance to try Virgin’s three economy class products (we covered them in this article), their impressive Premium seat or the fully flat Upper Class bed – as well as visiting the renowned Clubhouse lounge at Heathrow.
As well as being a key technology hub, Tel Aviv has been steadily growing its reputation as a tourist destination with its intriguing mix of city and beach life.
National Geographic has recently voted Tel Aviv one of the ‘Top 10 Beach Cities’ and Startup Genome named it as having the 2nd best ‘Startup Ecosystem’ in the world. You will be able to get a closer look at what it has to offer when the city hosts the Eurovision Song Contest in May.
Here are a few ideas if you are thinking of visiting:
At Tel Aviv airport
VIP Airport Service
For a smooth arrival and departure at Ben Gurion Airport, a friend of ours recommended the VIP Club. The ‘VIP Club’ package for incoming flights, for example, includes being met at the aircraft door, a transfer from aircraft to passport control by luxury car, fast track through passport control, baggage claim, customs and exit to arrivals hall. It costs $169 ($209 at Terminal 1) for a group of up to six people. VIP Club also offers a car service to and from the airport which apparently only costs a little more than a normal taxi.
Where to stay
Tel Aviv has seen a boom in new hotels recently. Here are three recent openings to consider:
Hilton Tel Aviv
The Hilton Tel Aviv has one of the very best views and is located right by the beach. Whilst an established hotel, it has opened a new “hotel within a hotel” called The Vista at Hilton Tel Aviv. It is located on the top floors with amazing views, extra services and a club lounge.
The Setai Tel Aviv
Setai is best known for its impressive Miami Beach hotel, but last year the group launched an equally luxurious property in Tel Aviv. It occupies a restored fortress in Jaffa, originally built in 1886. Five buildings set around a central courtyard house 120 rooms.
Features include a spa, Turkish hamam and an infinity rooftop pool (see photo below)
The Fabric Hotel
If you’re looking for a more youthful vibe, The Fabric Hotel is built in what was a sewing machine factory.
It sits on Nahalat Benyamin, one of Tel Aviv’s most vibrant streets, within close proximity of Carmel Market, the trendy Neve Tzedek neighbourhood and the nightlife of Rothschild Boulevard
What to see
There is a lot to see and do in and around Tel Aviv, such as the beach, the old town of Jaffa and the Tel Aviv Museum of Art. However, the ‘must see’ involves a trip out of town to the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem:
Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem, can easily be visited from Tel Aviv. There are a number of different tours that can be booked and you can also visit the Western Wall (also known as the Wailing Wall) in same day.
Where to eat
Tel Aviv also has a booming restaurant scene. Here are a couple of popular options:
The Old Man & The Sea
Located in Jaffa Port with a gorgeous seaview The Old Man & The Sea is serving seafood, middle eastern cuisine and has a large selection for vegetarians. Check out the restaurant’s Facebook page for food pictures.
Named one of the best Asian Fusion restaurants in Tel Aviv Topolompo is a must for food lovers. If the menu overwhelms you, you can order a surprise menu and have the chef surprise you with his choice of dishes.
About the new Virgin Atlantic flights to Tel Aviv
The Virgin Atlantic flight will operate from London Heathrow’s Terminal 3 and will be flown by an Airbus A330-300.
It will offer all of Virgin Atlantic’s classes (Upper and Premium as well as Economy Light, Classic and Delight).
For the first month after the 25th September launch, the flight will leave Heathrow at 13.30, landing at 20.35, with the return leaving Tel Aviv at 07.15, landing at 11.10.
This changes from 27th October, when the departure from Heathrow moves back to 16.00, landing at 23.05. The return will depart at 06.05, arriving at Heathrow at 09.55.
Looking to redeem Virgin Flying Club miles to Tel Aviv?
Here is the redemption chart for all classes (click to enlarge):
28,000 miles one-way in flat-bed Upper Class, plus taxes and charges, is arguably a very good deal, especially if you can spend a few hours enjoying all that the Heathrow Clubhouse lounge has to offer. You can find out more about the Clubhouse here.
Shai Weiss, Virgin Atlantic’s new CEO said about the new route:
“2019 marks the start of a new phase of growth for Virgin Atlantic as we work to achieve our ambition to become the most loved travel company. Tel Aviv represents a fantastic opportunity for us – Israel’s economy is booming and as one of the world’s leading tech hubs we’re anticipating many business travellers and entrepreneurs flying between Tel Aviv and the UK.
We also see a significant opportunity to increase competition in the US – Tel Aviv market, using the strength of our trans-Atlantic Joint Venture with Delta to offer customers from Tel Aviv a wide range of US destinations connecting through London Heathrow including New York and San Francisco.
I’m also thrilled to introduce this new destination to our leisure customers and I know it’s somewhere they’ll love to visit. Renowned for its cultural sites and with UNESCO recognised architecture, Tel Aviv also boasts beautiful beaches, a buzzing artistic and nightlife scene, incredible food and is a great base to explore the tourist destinations of the region including the iconic historical city of Jerusalem, Nazareth, and the Dead Sea”.
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin said:
“The entry of one of the world’s leading airlines into Israel is another expression of confidence in the Israel tourism product. The revolution that we have implemented in the Ministry of Tourism in recent years is bearing fruit with record-breaking numbers of incoming tourism to Israel. The new flights will be integrated with the marketing campaign in Europe, which highlights Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. I am convinced that, with the entry of Virgin Atlantic into Israel, we will see continued growth in incoming tourism from the UK.”
Tickets, both for cash and for Virgin Flying Club miles, for this new London to Tel Aviv service should be available from this morning via the Virgin Atlantic website.
How to earn Virgin Points from UK credit cards (October 2022)
As a reminder, there are various ways of earning Virgin Points from UK credit cards. Many cards also have generous sign-up bonuses.
You can choose from two official Virgin Atlantic credit cards (apply here, the Reward+ card has a bonus of 15,000 Virgin Points):
You can also earn Virgin Points from various American Express cards – and these have sign-up bonuses too.
American Express Preferred Rewards Gold is FREE for a year and comes with 20,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 20,000 Virgin Points.
The Platinum Card from American Express comes with 30,000 Membership Rewards points, which convert into 30,000 Virgin Points.
EDIT: Until 25th October 2022, there is an exceptionally generous sign-up bonus on The Platinum Card. You will receive 60,000 Membership Rewards points – double the usual amount – and £200 to spend at Amex Travel. You need to spend £6,000 within six months to earn the bonus.
Small business owners should consider the two American Express Business cards. Points convert at 1:1 into Virgin Points.
(Want to earn more Virgin Points? Click here to see our recent articles on Virgin Atlantic and Flying Club and click here for our home page with the latest news on earning and spending other airline and hotel points.)