When was the last time you stayed at a hotel that really spoke to you? For me, it was last month when I spent the night at the Art+ boutique hotel in Tel Aviv.
The library turns into a breakfast room in the mornings.
Located on Rehov Ben-Yehuda in the commercial and cultural heart of the city, yet a five-minute walk from the beach, the four-star Art+ is a little oasis of understated luxury. Part of the Atlas management chain of concept hotels, the Art+ has art and creativity as its theme, conceived together with Vision Hospitality. In that vein, there's an accent on interactivity between the guest and the hotel.
The interplay begins in the corridor that leads to the lobby, where the guest encounters the metal installation Evolution and Theory
by artist Zadok Ben-David. Part of the private collection of the hotel's owner, Doron Sabag, one of the largest art collectors in Israel
, the row of 13 one-dimensional sculptures begins with the ape, develops to a human and then devolves to a small monkey.
It was food for thought as I entered the hotel and began to absorb the bold colors, soft jazz and pleasant scent of the lobby - designed to look like an art gallery. In addition to artwork from the Sabag collection, comfortable sofas, chairs, tables, ottomans and reading lamps abound in the large space, which is divided by a bookcase replete with books on art and architecture.
The cordial reception clerk gave me my room key, explaining that to turn on the electricity I had to insert the keycard into a slot near the door. As I took the stairs to my room, I passed a lounge with an alluring array of wine and snacks, so I helped myself to some fresh fruit.
When I got to my room, I inserted my keycard and the lamps, lights and air conditioning were at my disposal. When the card is removed, it's lights out - a clever way to conserve energy in a world where most people don't bother to turn off the lights when they leave a room.
Now I could start to look around. And that's when the stylish room began to communicate. "Sweet Dreams," the bedroom mirror said in large print as I gazed around the immaculate room with its king-size bed, LCD TV, coffee bar, carpeted floor and cork bulletin board with brochures for local art galleries and exhibitions.
"Express Yourself," said the large pad of drawing paper on the desk, accompanied by five colored pencils.
And "Looking Good," said the bathroom mirror, reflecting gleaming white facilities and a shelf with high-quality toiletries.
On that note, I went to take a good look at the hotel itself.
In keeping with the hotel's concept, the curators of the Sabag collection selected five Israeli artists and assigned each a floor. While each corridor has its artist, every room on that floor displays a segment of the artwork as well (there are 62 rooms in all).
The first floor is dominated by Ayelet Carmi's images of nature and mythological women. On the second, Maya Attoun explores the body with dramatic renderings of bones and blood vessels. On the third, Tali Ben-Bassat's aquarelles depict the immensity of nature. Swiss-born Olaf Kuhneman turns the fourth floor into the alpine forest of his childhood. And on the fifth floor, Doron Rabina explores the interplay of the artist and his art via his trademark eyelash painted on a mirror.
The fifth floor also has an elegant rooftop terrace, complete with citrus trees, flowering plants, tables and lounge chairs.
With such vivid images dancing in my head, I indeed had sweet dreams
that night. And the snow-white pillows and comforter were so fluffy that I
felt like I was sleeping on a cloud.
A sumptuous dairy breakfast is provided in the first-floor lounge, which has a long table and several smaller ones, as well as an outdoor patio. After the food is cleared away, the room serves as a library with a large selection of art books and magazines. The hotel also offers guided tours to local art galleries and exhibitions.
When it comes to creative concepts, the management seems to have thought of everything.
It was only when I was preparing to check out of my room that I noticed that the sign on the wall that read "HANGER" actually was
a hanger, with each letter protruding as a hook. The next time I stay at the Art+ Hotel, I'll pay closer attention to what my room is saying. nArt+ Hotel, Rehov Ben-Yehuda 35, Tel Aviv. Breakfast is dairy, but the hotel does not have kosher certification. For rates and reservations, call (03) 797-1700 or visit www.atlas.co.ilThe writer was a guest of the Art+ Hotel.