Cinema Hotel a nostalgic trip to the movies

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TEL AVIV -- Opened in May 2001, the Cinema Hotel here was converted from one of the first movie theaters in Tel Aviv, and represents escape to a simpler world of celluloid and happy endings.

"We get a lot of young people interested in the hotel, who like the special building, and a lot of Israeli couples who had their first date in this cinema," said Uri Kronkop, marketing manager with Atlas Hotels, which operates the hotel. "Some of them burst into tears when they see the place, and feel compelled to tell the receptionist, 'This is where we first dated and fell in love.'"

The Cinema Hotel was first constructed in 1930, in the Bauhaus style as the Esther Cinema, and renovated and restored over a three and half year period prior to its reopening as an 82-room hotel.

Atlas Hotels approached the owners of the shuttered Esther Cinema building to embark on the venture about 10 years ago, Kronkop said, following the successful opening of the Center Hotel across the road.

During renovation of the movie house, the characteristic exterior, original staircase and chandeliers were kept as they were, Kronkop said. Some of the original projectors, movie posters and theater chairs also are on display as decorative pieces of the past.

Upon entering the lobby, guests are greeted by a silent film projected on the walls by the reception desk, Kronkop said, and receive fresh popcorn once they are registered.

The hotel will also do evening screenings of contemporary movies on DVD for groups or parties upon request, Kronkop said.

"We try to give the guests a cinema-style feeling, and keep the cinema atmosphere in every room," Kronkop said. "With the carpets, curtains and lighting we decided on, everything should symbolize the cinema world. Plus, "a special feeling of the old days of Tel Aviv," with vintage photos of the property's Dizengoff Circle location adding to the sense of nostalgia.

The opera hall of the cinema was destroyed to create four floors of guest rooms, Kronkop said, and two new floors were added, including a business lounge, open to all guests, with access to sunbathing on the rooftop terrace, refreshments, a sauna and Jacuzzi.

To preserve the Bauhaus facade, the two floors added to the original four-story building were set back 11 yards from the exterior wall, allowing the gap to serve as a sunroof.

The hotel is located near the Dizengoff Center shopping district, Kronkop said, and within walking distance of the Habima and Hakcameri theaters and the Mann Auditorium, home of the philharmonic orchestra of Tel Aviv.

"Plus, it's a seven- to 10-minute walk to the beach," Kronkop said, and the beautiful promenade of Tel Aviv, which is also important."

Rates are $85 per night for a single room and $98 per night for a double, full Israeli breakfast included. Parking is on-site and complimentary. Commission is 10%.

Including the Cinema, Atlas operates eight three- and four-star hotels in Tel Aviv and others in Eilat, Jerusalem and Western Galilee.

For information or reservations, contact Ludmila Kupstaitis, Atlas Hotels Sales Incoming, via e-mail: [email protected] or (011) 972-3-5425566; fax: (011) 972-3-5425570.

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