Fine art

This Tel Aviv boutique hotel has a gallery theme going, and it's going well.

When was the last time you stayed at a hotel thatreally spoke to you? For me, it was last month when I spent the nightat the Art+ boutique hotel in Tel Aviv.

Located on Rehov Ben-Yehuda in the commercial andcultural heart of the city, yet a five-minute walk from the beach, thefour-star Art+ is a little oasis of understated luxury. Part of theAtlas management chain of concept hotels, the Art+ has art andcreativity as its theme, conceived together with Vision Hospitality. Inthat vein, there's an accent on interactivity between the guest and thehotel.

The interplay begins in the corridor that leads to the lobby, where the guest encounters the metal installation Evolution and Theoryby artist Zadok Ben-David. Part of the private collection of thehotel's owner, Doron Sabag, one of the largest art collectors inIsrael, 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 toabsorb the bold colors, soft jazz and pleasant scent of the lobby -designed to look like an art gallery. In addition to artwork from theSabag collection, comfortable sofas, chairs, tables, ottomans andreading lamps abound in the large space, which is divided by a bookcasereplete with books on art and architecture.The cordial receptionclerk gave me my room key, explaining that to turn on the electricity Ihad to insert the keycard into a slot near the door. As I took thestairs to my room, I passed a lounge with an alluring array of wine andsnacks, so I helped myself to some fresh fruit.

When I got to my room, I inserted my keycard and thelamps, lights and air conditioning were at my disposal. When the cardis removed, it's lights out - a clever way to conserve energy in aworld where most people don't bother to turn off the lights when theyleave a room.

Now I could start to look around. And that's when the stylishroom began to communicate. "Sweet Dreams," the bedroom mirror said inlarge print as I gazed around the immaculate room with its king-sizebed, LCD TV, coffee bar, carpeted floor and cork bulletin board withbrochures 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 Sabagcollection selected five Israeli artists and assigned each a floor.While each corridor has its artist, every room on that floor displays asegment of the artwork as well (there are 62 rooms in all).

The first floor is dominated by Ayelet Carmi's images of natureand mythological women. On the second, Maya Attoun explores the bodywith dramatic renderings of bones and blood vessels. On the third, TaliBen-Bassat's aquarelles depict the immensity of nature. Swiss-born OlafKuhneman turns the fourth floor into the alpine forest of hischildhood. And on the fifth floor, Doron Rabina explores the interplayof the artist and his art via his trademark eyelash painted on amirror.

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 dreamsthat night. And the snow-white pillows and comforter were so fluffy that Ifelt like I was sleeping on a cloud.

A sumptuous dairy breakfast is provided in the first-floorlounge, which has a long table and several smaller ones, as well as anoutdoor patio. After the food is cleared away, the room serves as alibrary with a large selection of art books and magazines. The hotelalso 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 ahanger, with each letter protruding as a hook. The next time I stay atthe Art+ Hotel, I'll pay closer attention to what my room is saying.

Art+ Hotel, Rehov Ben-Yehuda 35, Tel Aviv. Breakfast isdairy, but the hotel does not have kosher certification. For rates andreservations, call (03) 797-1700 or visit

The writer was a guest of the Art+ Hotel.