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City Break: Urban chic
By RUTH BELOFF
11/08/2011
Conveniently located in the heart of Tel Aviv, the Center Chic boutique hotel is an ideal starting point for discovering the city.
 
On a recent visit to Tel Aviv as I made my way on the No. 5 bus from the Arlozoroff bus terminal to Dizengoff Square, I was struck by how beautiful Tel Aviv is and thought to myself that I should really get to know the city better. And the ideal place to stay in order to do that would be the very spot I was headed for – the Center Chic Hotel.

Conveniently located in the heart of Tel Aviv, just off Dizengoff Square, the boutique hotel is operated by the Atlas Group, a company that manages a chain of boutique hotels around the country.

The concept, or theme, of the hotel is old and new, and its slogan is “Love to be in Tel Aviv.” The interior design is aimed to make the guest feel as if he were in a Tel Aviv home of the late 1960s and ’70s, with all the distinctive urban charm of the time.

That theme is evidenced in every aspect of the four-story hotel, from the stately entrance to the lush rooftop terrace.

That at-home experience started from the moment I walked in the door. But not before I was greeted by a pair of sculpted marble cats that graces the entrance to the hotel, a tribute to the felines that help characterize the city. The lobby is designed like a living room, replete with 1970s-style sofas, cushions, potted plants, a bookcase lined with books about every conceivable topic related to Tel Aviv and a TV screen that runs Steven Spielberg’s documentary, with black-and-white footage from Tel Aviv in the 1920s and ’30s.

Hot and tired from my short but enervating trip from Jerusalem, I stopped off on the second-floor lounge for some cold water. Called the Gallery Room, this is a cheerful, colorful lounge that is divided into two spaces. The first area is a pleasant spot with potted plants and comfy sofas and armchairs to sit, read or watch the large-screen TV. The adjacent space is equipped with computer work stations.

This is also the room where Happy Hour is served every afternoon from 5:30 to 7:30, with a generous offering of fresh fruit, nuts, canapes, mini quiches, cookies and cake, as well as wine, juices, coffee and tea.

Duly refreshed, I went up to my room on the fourth floor. The hotel has 54 rooms, with two junior suites. Mine was a standard room, and it was lovely. A king size bed with large pillows, a dresser, a flat screen TV and an overhead fan were the first items that caught my eye. As I took a better look, I noticed more of the details that gave the room its 1970s urban aspect.

The floor had black-and-white terrazzo tiles, while the walls were made of simulated brick painted pale green. The black and white motif was carried into the bathroom, with its black-and-white floor tiles, white brick walls and immaculately white bathtub and commode. The room also had a small balcony, in black-and-white as well, with a table and two chairs. Just enough to get a breath of urban air and a little look around.

On the wall next to the bed was a sketch of a Tel Aviv cafe by artist Avi Katz. The artist sits in cafes around town and sketching exactly what he sees. When he’s done, he writes the date at the bottom of the sketch, as well as the name and address of the cafe, what he ordered and how much it cost. The hotel bought 40 of his sketches to put in the rooms.

Much as I liked my room, for me the pièce de resistance of the hotel was the rooftop terrace. Open 24 hours, the terrace offers a wonderful respite any time of day, overlooking Tel Aviv from all sides. The terrace itself is a sight to behold, with its lush plants and trees and multiple seating areas, a host of chaise lounges, umbrellas and suspended basket chairs. With light jazz playing in the background, guests can order up drinks and bask in the luxurious surroundings by day or take in the shimmering lights of the city at night. The height of urban chic.

And if all that were not enough, after a good night’s sleep, breakfast is yet another treat. The Center Chic doesn’t serve breakfast on its premises, so guests of the hotel are invited to the Atlas’s Cinema Hotel, located a few steps away across the courtyard.

Formerly a movie theater, this beautifully refurbished boutique hotel has a large dining room on the second floor where a sumptuous morning buffet is served. What a great double feature! Well rested and well fed, guests are then free to explore the many sights of Tel Aviv. The hotel offers its clients free bicycles on which to pedal around town.

The writer was a guest of the hotel. Center Chic Hotel Rehov Zamenhof 2, Tel Aviv Tel: (03) 526-6100.
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