Tel Aviv Hotel Cinema: Luxury and History at a Reasonable Price
Formerly home to the Esther Cinema at Dizengoff Circle, the boutique hotel has retained much of the old world charm and cinematic amenities that characterized the movie experience.
Originally built in the 1930s in a rounded Bauhaus style, the building was completely overhauled after the cinema closed in 1998. Opened as Hotel Cinema three years later, it has retained many of its classic features .
A quaint popcorn maker emitting the aroma of a dual element greets guests as they enter the welcoming lobby. Most of the space available on the walls and tables is taken up by vintage film equipment: projectors, cameras, lights, film cartridges and lots of film posters and photos.
The spiral staircases and chandeliers make Omar Sharif look like he’s about to step through the front door. Allow a little extra time between checking out of your room and accessing the elevators, because black and white photos of Tel Aviv and 1950s and 1960s cinema are so alluring. Indeed bewitching.
The staff are friendly and helpful with one flaw, as customers of the Atlas chain are used to.
The rooms are perfectly functional, although small. Some of them have equally compact balconies that overlook the finally renovated Dizengoff Circle, perfect for people watching. Since the days of the Crown, the location has become a meeting place for dog walkers, young parents, hipsters and any resident looking for a little grassy and chill out spot.
As busy as the outside is, once you close your bedroom window and balcony door there is hardly any noise coming in – so close to the eye of the storm, but far away.
The convenient location has one downside though: parking. The hotel offers four places reserved for disabled people. If one of them remains open, it is available to customers by calling reception on a first served basis. Otherwise, there are a number of lots nearby, including the Dizengoff Center, which will set you back 60-80 NIS for 24 hours. But the proximity to virtually any place you would want to go in Tel Aviv is well worth it.
Between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. daily, the hotel offers a happy hour with wine, dips and salads on its rooftop terrace, with stunning views of Tel Aviv. Occasionally live music is also presented, or period films are shown if you are lucky enough to land on the right night.
Breakfast is modest by Israeli standards, but very tasty. Salads, lox platters, fruit, fresh pastries and great hafuch coffee, but no eggs to order, and high calorie French toast and burekas. It works well if you plan to make it to the beach a 12-minute walk away and compete with the tough bodies there.
Perhaps the main bill for the hotel is the price. A stay for a couple with breakfast is between 500 and 600 NIS and is slightly higher on weekends. At these rates, you can afford to go to the movies. Or better yet, join the locals at Dizengoff Circle and be a part of your own movie.
The writer was a guest of the hotel.