A Glimpse At Vintage Tel Aviv

22 May

Ben-Gurion's Kitchen

A Peek into David Ben-Gurion's Kitchen

Staircase in the Cinema Hotel

Looking down the staircase in the Cinema Hotel at an original film projector in the lobby.

Houses From Within is an annual event offering tours and access to public and private buildings in Tel Aviv-Yafo. I scoured their website on Friday, trying to choose which of the more than 100 locations I would visit the next day. My choices were quickly narrowed down to two locations where I felt comfortable driving to and finding parking: the Ben-Gurion House and the Cinema Hotel.

I arrived about 10 minutes late for the 10:00 tour of the Ben-Gurion House. But it really didn’t matter! The tour was in Hebrew only. (Just because the website descriptions were in English does not mean the tours would be conducted in English. Silly me!) I was given an English-language brochure and conducted a self-guided tour through the modest and compact house built in the 1930s and lived in by Ben-Gurion until his death in 1973. All the furnishings and decor were original but spare and modest. I would say most of the house was devoted to library space. My favorite room was the kitchen and my favorite things of all were the cool retro floor tiles.

A short walk from the Ben-Gurion house brought me to Dizengoff Square, site of the Cinema Hotel. The hotel was originally Cinema Esther, built in 1930 in the Bauhaus style. One of Tel Aviv’s first movie theaters, it is now a charming boutique hotel which pays homage to its origins by displaying original film projectors, movie posters and theater chairs. Film classics are screened in the lobby where popcorn is served.

There was quite a large crowd gathered to tour the Cinema Hotel. Again, the tour was in Hebrew only but this time there was no English-language brochure. I just tagged along with the crowd, usually walking ahead to take photos, but not wanting to venture too far off. The tour gave us access to areas that are usually off limits to non-hotel guests, including the marvelous view from the rooftop tanning lounge.

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