Art aficionados visiting Tel Aviv who really want to immerse themselves in the Israeli arts scene should consider a stay at the Artplus Hotel. In fact, the 62-room boutique property, decorated by five local artists who created murals that "set the tone" for each floor's decor, won its own accolade this year: a top spot in TripAdvisor's Travelers' Choice 2012 survey as the trendiest hotel in the entire Middle East.
On a recent stay, it was apparent the award is spot-on. The hotel's modern foyer and lobby, outfitted in quirky, retro-style furnishings, feature works by renowned Israeli artists Zadok Ben-David, with his sculpture "Evolution," and Sigalit Landau, with her DVD triptych "Dancing for Maya." Guests milling about as well as the hotel staff serving them were largely young, hip and multicultural.
Hallways on guestroom floors sport custom artwork; some rooms boast actual installation pieces, and the library, where complimentary breakfast and evening refreshments and snacks are served, is filled with art books and magazines. The hotel also happens to be steps from Tel Aviv's beautiful beach as well as trendy nightclubs such as YaYa, one of the city's newest watering holes.
The Artplus, which opened in 2009, is one of 11 properties operated by Tel Aviv-based Atlas Hotels. Each, like the Artplus, is designed around a central concept; for example, the Cinema Hotel, as one might suspect, is themed around movies.
My standard-category room at the Artplus was not, unfortunately, endowed with any significant art pieces. It did, however, come equipped with a scribble pad and set of colored pencils, for do-it-yourself decorating. Room size was a bit small (except, perhaps, for travelers used to hotels in Manhattan), but the unit was still somehow outfitted with two single beds, a desk and chair and a sofa. The bathroom seemed especially commodious, given the size of the room proper.
The Artplus features 54 of these standard rooms, which accommodate up to two guests, as well as eight "studio rooms" -- minisuites, really -- suitable for three adults or two adults and two children.
Rates range from $195 to $288 a night, double, depending on season, and include breakfast. The morning buffet spread, set up inside the library or out on a bamboo-shaded patio, was extensive and featured consistently tasty dishes typical of both American and Israeli breakfasts as well as fresh juices and coffee. For destination news and updates worldwide, follow Ken Kiesnoski on Twitter @kktravelweekly.
Tel Aviv's profile in global arts circles has never been higher, with the new Herta and Paul Amir Building at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art named Best Museum of 2012 by Travel + Leisure magazine and the nearby, two-year-old Design Museum Holon still creating an arts and architecture buzz.