Melody Hotel // © 2011 Atlas Hotels
In a Bedouin tent, with 50 other tourists, I learned what it was like to live as a nomad, wandering and resting in Israel’s seemingly infinite desert. Then, overnighting at a plain and small kibbutz bedroom, my three bunkmates taught me more about communal living than any educational tour of the agricultural settlement. These quintessential experiences left me with a sense of Israel’s unique culture and history — as well as, I must admit, a readiness to get away and join my friend beachside at an upscale boutique hotel in bustling Tel Aviv.
Atlas Hotels, a leading boutique hotel chain in Israel, was established 40 years ago and currently manages 10 properties in the country. Responsible for accommodating more than 500,000 room nights a year, the Tel Aviv-based company operates a hotel in Jerusalem, a hotel near the Ben Gurion Airport and a hotel in Eilat, as well as seven hotels in Tel Aviv. Seven individual properties might seem excessive for one city, however each Atlas Hotel follows a different concept, ensuring that every property is unique.
The chain’s newest property, Shalom Hotel & Relax in Tel Aviv, opened in 2010 and is styled as a beach house. The 51-room property emphasizes its beachfront location, offering luxuries such as bathrooms with ocean views and romantic spa rooms with Jacuzzis that face the ocean.
The Cinema Hotel, another notable Atlas Hotel, also stays true to its concept while offering an authentic Tel Aviv experience. Nicknamed the “White City,” Tel Aviv is recognized for having the highest concentration of Bauhaus architecture — in 2003, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site — and the property offers guests the opportunity to stay in an original Bauhaus-style movie theater. Maintaining the legacy of the Esther Cinema, the hotel, accented by original projectors and movie posters, screens classic films and serves popcorn in the lobby.
Though other options, such as the ArtPlus Hotel, were also tempting, I happily settled at The Melody Hotel, which adheres to a sophisticated “work and play” concept excellent for business and leisure travelers alike. While my friend checked in and inquired about the complimentary bicycle rentals with the friendly staff, I tried out the free hotel computers and property-wide Wi-Fi access.
It took plenty of willpower to leave my room, where I was more than happy with my large bed, air conditioner, flat-screen LCD television and the room’s playful touches, such as the rubber ducks in the bathroom. In fact, I credit my nearly floor-to-ceiling window — boasting sunny views of Independence Park and Tel Aviv beach — for ultimately luring me onto the hotel’s yellow beach-cruiser bicycle for a ride along the boardwalk.
The hotel’s prime location is a perk rivaled only by its complimentary happy hour, featuring white and red wine derived from local grapes served with hummus, tahini, olives, cheeses, vegetables, nuts, artisan breads, dates and dried fruit. A complimentary breakfast is also offered every morning, with cereals, hot dishes, salads, rolls, coffee, tea and more.
Advise clients that happy hour is not served during the Sabbath — every Friday and Saturday — but that guests are free to celebrate on the hotel’s rooftop patio. Here visitors can take in gorgeous views of both the city and the Mediterranean while reclining on comfy white sofas — a perfect way to enjoy the hotel’s sophisticated beachfront ambiance.