Slow, by Design

Slow, by Design

Can you architect slowness? A new retreat in northern Israel’s lower Galilee makes the case.

Words by Rachael Workman
Photos by Miriam Van Laar


In 1977, a group of young Tel Avivians moved to the lower galilee to establish a kibbutz, hoping to connect anew with nature, each other, and themselves. A community quickly sprung up around them; together they cultivated the land, and in turn, the land restored them to peace. They named it Moran, after the area’s most persistent wild flower. Now, 35 years later, three entrepreneurs from Tel Aviv felt a similar calling to change the way they live and find a place to heal. In 2021 they, too, emerged from their urban haze to discover Kibbutz Moran, whose hills were still dotted with the same unruly blooms. 

In the thick of the pandemic, communications strategist, Eli Shaked, alongside fashion and creative director David Peretz, and the owner of Israel’s largest yoga, dance and movement studio, Amir Glick, huddled around a shared dream of recreating Israel’s 70’s-style bait margoas or ‘relaxation houses.’ Their parents’ generation would escape to these stripped down hideaways that - while quite utilitarian in form - offered the kind of soulful reprieve that only nature can. They wondered what a modern-day interpretation might feel like; could such a concept even exist in today’s world, with all its emphasis on luxury and immediacy? On Kibbutz Moran, they discovered an old guest house and a communal kitchen space, and instantly saw the blueprint for their slow motion sanctuary. They began its restoration into an elegant countryside hotel, and settled on a fitting name: slow-ness Kibbutz Moran.

Unlike many hotels that aim to offer a similar style of escape, slow-ness is not secluded, it’s surrounded by authentic, modest kibbutz houses, occupied by actual kibbutz families. If you make your way down a few tree-lined paths, you’ll find young mothers playing with their children, elder statesmen gossiping on their patios, aromas wafting from kitchen windows – it all serves as the sensory backdrop of the experience. The effect is powerful: hotel guests are not removed from the real world, but rather, dropped into it, placed squarely into the simple life that may be found tucked away in the verdant hills of the Galilee. 

Its 30 guest rooms function in harmony with its surrounding landscape; think organic materials and understated finishes, and electronics that are used sparingly if at all – the only screens one will find are the large “green screens” of the guestroom’s windows. The beating heart of the property is its farm-to-table chef kitchen which spills out onto a great lawn. In this space, which mixes vintage and urban aesthetics to soothing effect, Chef Nitay Yahalom applies thoughtful, meticulous, and classic techniques to local, organic, and seasonal whole foods sourced from the area’s many farms. Its open concept atmosphere invites guests to move around freely from their table to the bar, piano, or fireplace - they can even approach the chef during service. 

Next door, guests will find a shop and delicatessen featuring carefully curated wares, home essentials, and local food produce. The owners utilize this space “to make conscious choices and inspire guests with the things they love.” The inspiration continues at the hotel’s arts and crafts center, where guests are invited to use its full range of paints, paper, and supplies to create and express. If the visual arts are not one’s cup of tea, there is also a movement studio on offer, where dance, yoga, and sound healing workshops are held. For yet more restoration, Shiatsu and Shamanic sessions, and deep tissue massages are also available. Guests can decompress in the Finnish sauna, hot tubs, or heated outdoor pool.

Despite its many trappings, simple and conscientious hospitality sits clearly at the heart of slow-ness. Here, visitors are encouraged to unplug and let their minds wander. Bare feet undertake on spontaneous adventures and immersive conversations with strangers are strangely commonplace. There is also plenty of dozing, reading, laughing, playing, and dreaming to be experienced. In bearing witness to the natural world, all the human clutter washes off like a wave. slow-ness reminds us all of a humbling truth: that nature is the only luxury worth coveting.