The Artist Hotel in Tel Aviv: An educational vacation

The hotel uses all of the public spaces and many of the rooms to showcase emerging Israeli artists.

 THE ARTIST HOTEL on Ben-Yehuda Street in Tel Aviv features works by local artists.  (photo credit: SARIT GOFFEN)
THE ARTIST HOTEL on Ben-Yehuda Street in Tel Aviv features works by local artists.
(photo credit: SARIT GOFFEN)

Contemporary Israeli art? Free wine all day? Happy hour with snacks? Yes, please.

I am something of a cultural wasteland, and when I was offered a chance to stay at the Artist Hotel on Ben-Yehuda Street in Tel Aviv, I saw it as an opportunity to learn a little more about Israeli art. The Artist Hotel is one of a series of boutique hotels throughout the country, many of them owned by the Atlas Hotels Group.

The hotel uses all of the public spaces and many of the rooms to showcase emerging Israeli artists. The art is from the private collection of Doron Sebbag, who also owns the hotel. Walking towards the hotel from Ben-Yehuda Street there is a piece with strong primary colors by Naama Roth with colorful openings for the light to shine through.

Once in the lobby, check out the piece by Dana Yoeli, an abstract landscape of a sunset in the sea. Other artists who are displayed in the lobby and dining room are Mark Yashaev, David Adika, Sharon Glazberg, Guy Zagursky and Tal Shochat.

There are other artists displayed on each floor landing, and rooms on each floor that are “artist rooms.” We stayed in the room decorated by Eyal Assulin, an up-and-coming artist, which had an Egyptian theme with three-dimensional gold leopards on the walls on a background of hieroglyphics.

 THE ARTIST HOTEL on Ben-Yehuda Street in Tel Aviv features works by local artists. (credit: SARIT GOFFEN) THE ARTIST HOTEL on Ben-Yehuda Street in Tel Aviv features works by local artists. (credit: SARIT GOFFEN)

Since I lived in Egypt many years ago, I am a big fan of Egyptian art, and having art in the room where you are staying is a plus. There are QR codes scattered around the hotel that you can use to learn more about the artists.

The rooms themselves are “cozy” but comfortable. There is a good coffee machine in each room as well as upscale toiletries. The location on Ben-Yehuda Street, three minutes from the beach, is great. I walked down to the beach in the late afternoon and enjoyed a beautiful sunset.

"Happy hour"

One of the nicest features of the hotel is “happy hour,” which includes food and five kinds of wine. The food was more extensive than I had expected, with salads, grape leaves and cheeses, enough for a light dinner. The wine was served in proper wine glasses, and it was just so pleasant to sit on a couch in the lobby and partake.

One of the nice things was seeing the conversations that started among the hotel guests. Most seemed to be Israelis but there were also several visiting businessmen. By the second glass of wine, everyone was chatting amiably.

One staff member told me that happy hour is his favorite time, and that he always keeps an eye out for any guest who is not involved in the conversation. He then approaches him and starts a conversation. That kind of caring and thoughtfulness is what makes the hotel special.

The hotel does not serve dinner although there are many restaurants in the area.

Breakfast the next morning was served in a lovely breakfast room downstairs from the lobby. The buffet was beautifully laid out, and while not as extensive as some of the large hotels, everything was delicious including the cheese selection, which had various goat cheeses.

There was a platter of smoked salmon but it was covered with green onions. As I am “onion-averse,” I asked if they could bring me some salmon without the onions and they happily brought me a plate of salmon that I devoured. 

In the spirit of the hotel, I struck up a conversation with the woman next to me. She was a German Christian who had lived in Israel many years ago and was coming back to visit friends and family.

Overall, we had a lovely stay at the Artist Hotel in Tel Aviv and would happily return.

The writer was a guest of the hotel.