Luxury hotels are discovering that art does more than just add to ambiance or enhance decor. As a time-strapped traveler, you can enjoy high-quality artwork on your own schedule, without the distraction of crowds.
Whether they are working with their own curators, or partnering with museums or local galleries, hotels are finding ways to provide their guests with an unexpected perk while offering a window into the arts culture. Some hotels even brand themselves as “art hotels” or “design hotels.”
Here are 10 hotels that have made art a priority, where you can enjoy museum-quality artwork as if it were in your own home.
Bellagio – Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas is not generally known for its fine art exhibits, but thanks to Steve Wynn’s vision of artistic excellence, the Bellagio offers guests and visitors a rotating exhibition in addition to its famous permanent collections. Until January 6, 2013, you can see 20 pieces by Claude Monet, on loan from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. Monet obsessed with the interaction of light, color, and form, and painted variations of the same subject over the course of the day and in different seasons. Charing Cross Bridge and the Haystacks are examples of two seminal pieces on display.
21C – Louisville, Kentucky
Named to Condé Nast Traveler’s prestigious Platinum Circle, the 21C Louisville is making its mark among luxury boutique hotels. Along with local partners, the 21C Louisville believes that art can be an economic driver for a community. Founders Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson have created the perfect fusion of art and commerce with a top notch gallery, luxe accommodation, and top notch onsite bar and restaurant.
21C, as the name implies, focuses on 21st century contemporary art. As North America’s first museum devoted solely to the art of living artists, 21C Museum Hotel features a rotating program of curated exhibitions, as well as site-specific, commissioned installations.
Grand Wailea Resort – Maui, Hawaii
MOMA and the Guggenheim are not the only places to see the work of French cubist Fernand Léger. After a luau at the Grand Wailea Resort on Maui, you can take a leisurely stroll through the hotel’s extensive art collection. Over 81 works are included in the collection of original paintings, sculptures, graphics, murals and artifacts. The original developer of the Grand Wailea, Takeshi Sekiguchi, commissioned nine sculptures from Fernando Botero to be dispersed throughout the hotel grounds. Works by famed sculptor Herb Kane depict local legends and teach guests about the local folklore. (Thanks to Michael Gilbert, the hotel’s art curator, for the above photo.)
James Hotel – Chicago, Illinois
Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art on Michigan Avenue (one of Chicago’s many amazing avenues) or one of the windy city’s most visited museums, at the Art Institute of Chicago. Wind down back at the James Hotel, then check out the artwork around the hotel. Most pieces have been curated by Monique Meloche, but the hotel also held its first ever in Residence Artist Studio in 2011. The James exhibits a mix of local and international artists such as Joel Ross, Demarcus Purham, and Andrea Mantin.
The Surrey – Manhattan, New York
If the legendary Surrey on Manhattan’s upper east side reminds you of an old photograph, that is exactly what interior designers had in mind. The hotel’s black, white and sepia tones are meant to recall the nostalgia of days long gone. This allure fits right in with the hotel’s history of famous guests. JFK, Bette Davis, and Claudette Colbert were among those who appreciated the Surrey’s exceptional and discreet service.
The hotel’s impressive art collection includes 31 original modern art works dispersed throughout the private and public spaces. At your leisure, admire the works of artists such as Chuck Close, Claus Oldenburg, Donald Sultan, William Kentridge and the like.
The Park Hotel – Amsterdam, Netherlands
The Park Hotel in Amsterdam has created ‘The Gallery Zone‘ to inspire guests with the work of emerging artists. In collaboration with local galleries and artists, every two months, The Gallery Zone presents the work of a notable emerging artist. The exhibitions are exclusive to the hotel’s gallery.
Past exhibitions have included figure drawing and paintings, but the gallery tends to lean towards contemporary photography. Talented fashion photographers from Los Angeles, Italy and the Netherlands, along with the simple modern design of the gallery, gives the hotel an elegant and sophisticated vibe.
Algodon Mansion – Buenos Aires, Argentina
In the heart of the Recoleta neighborhood in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Algodon Mansion is an all-suite luxury boutique hotel that offers impeccable service. After an afternoon at MALBA (The Museum of Latin American Art in Buenos Aires), grab a glass of Malbec, and take your time browsing through the gallery at Algodon Mansion. Art consultant Carolina Grether curates for the gallery, which showcases contemporary Argentine artists.
Gallery Hotel Art – Florence, Italy
If the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance is on your agenda, the Gallery Hotel Art in Florence showcases a rotating exhibit of contemporary photography. One of Europe’s first contemporary design hotels, it is a favorite amongst the fashion set of Florence. Just a few steps from the Ponte Vecchio and the renaissance monuments, the hotel features a stylish mix of Asian and Florentine architecture, as well as international art vernissages in its lounges.
Museum Hotel – Wellington, New Zealand
Check the address first before visiting the famous Museum Hotel in Wellington, New Zealand. They actually picked up the entire hotel, pushed it along train tracks, and moved the building, with its entire art collection down the street.
The Museum Hotel has an extensive art collection featuring mixed media artist Geoff Dixon, whose work focuses on the chaos and beauty of the world heritage listed Daintree Rainforest. The late Buck Nin is a highly respected artist of Maori and Chinese descent whose work explores the cultural symbols of both cultures. Among other artists, the intricate drawings and paintings of John Pule give a delightful insight into Polynesian culture and identity.
Museum Hotel – Cappadocia, Turkey
Although these last two hotels go by the same name, they could not be any more different. For a truly unique experience, the four-star Museum Hotel in Cappadocia, Turkey is an exquisitely decorated boutique hotel. The hotel itself is a work of art, painstakingly made from the restorations of old ruins. Omer Tosun, the founder, was clearly influenced by his vast collection of antiques, some dating back to the Ottoman, Seljuk Roman and Hittite empires. Rooms are carved out of cave walls and decorated with antique furniture and fabrics. If you get the sense you are sleeping in a museum, in a way, you are. Much of the furniture and decor is, in fact, registered with the Neveshir Museum.
To top off the experience, every other month, the hotel hosts exhibits of Turkish artists, adding a contemporary view into Turkish culture.
For more suggestions on hotels to inspire your inner creativity, take a look at our partner for luxury & character hotels, Splendia.