In the same way that cheap, generic artwork devoid of any semblance of imagination or meaning pinpoints your locale within a cheap, generic hotel, prestigious, historical and inspired artworks tend to do the opposite, assuring you that you will be resting your head in a hotel of equal style and class.
Luxury hotels the world over strive to showcase their taste, curation and ties to the local community with art collections that blur the lines between five-star hotel and world-class art museum. Stateside, look no further than the 21c Museum Hotels brand, a small group of approximately 10 boutique city hotels with interactive, on-site art galleries. Another group with an emphasis on curated art and cultural experiences is Thompson Hotels, with, for example, the just opened Thompson Buckhead in Atlanta, which collaborated with local artists for a series of sculptures throughout the property, along with some signature artistic touches for quests, from lapel pins to ice stamps.
Hell, it’s 2022, so hotels are even getting into NFT artwork. Last year, Dream Hollywood unveiled a physical NFT exhibition in partnership with The Crypt Gallery featuring limited-edition pieces composed by digital artists.
If you’re not quite ready for that but you are looking for a swanky hotel with a museum-worthy art collection, here’s where to go …
Cape Town, South Africa
Built at the turn of the 20th century as a grand private estate, Ellerman House is now known as one of Cape Town’s most renowned stays. The Relais & Châteaux property is home to one of the largest collections of South African art found anywhere in the world, with over 800 pieces. The artwork spans and reflects the history of the country, and is on display throughout the hotel’s grounds, including in an indoor gallery, a terraced garden and throughout its hallways and rooms. Guests can browse at their leisure or ask to schedule a guided art tour for an in-depth and history-filled exploration. A detailed brochure is available showcasing some of the notable artists and gallery themes, and in addition to its historical gaze, there’s a focus on BIPOC and female artists. Ellerman House also hosts an annual art auction event for charity benefiting The Click Foundation, which focuses on addressing literacy in South Africa with the implementation of programs in under-privileged primary schools.
Long Bay Village, Anguilla
Quintessence Hotel, another Relais & Châteaux property, features an expansive art collection with more than 600 pieces across numerous artistic mediums. The boutique property’s nine suites are named after featured artists such as Jasmin Joseph, Henri Robert Bresil and Albert Bonhomme. The collection is focused on Haitian artwork, and after the devastation wrought by the 2010 earthquake, is home to some of the most sought-after surviving works from the aforementioned artists. The hotel also plans on unveiling an Art Bar adjacent to its onsite Q Art Gallery offering a creative and tropical setting for a libation or two, and has at times partnered with Le Centre d’Art in Port-Au-Prince to donate a portion of bookings to its efforts. The collection is also up for grabs when you want to fully participate in traveling like an art collector; though be warned, the most expensive item in the collection currently for sale is being offered at more than $120,000.
The Fife Arms
The Scottish Highlands retreat and Braemar Landmark The Fife Arms was built in the 19th century and opened as an extravagant hotel in 2018. Owners Iwan and Manuela Wirth have assembled a staggering collection of 16,000 art pieces spanning genres, eras and artistic mediums. The collection is notable and diverse enough to include everything from a Picasso to a watercolor done by Queen Victoria. The hotel employs full-time art historians and aims to preserve Scottish heritage, craft and design. The Fife Arms also offers ongoing artist-in-residence programs, with Scottish poet Alec Finlay having been commissioned to create a poetic guide to the neighboring Cairngorms National Park, for instance. Guests can even participate with a number of creative workshops.
XVA Art Hotel
Part gallery and cafe, part boutique hotel, the XVA Art Hotel is uniquely positioned in the heart of Dubai’s historical Al Fahidi district. The XVA Gallery opened in 2003 and is one of the world’s leading showcases of contemporary art from the Arab world, with an ongoing lineup of exhibitions showcasing international artists, such as recent and upcoming artists Mukesh Shah, Behnoosh Feiz, Hussein al Mohassen and Letizia de Maigret. The property hosts weekly art classes ranging from painting to pottery, and its art collection is displayed across the hotel’s spaces. The hotel itself was designed by owner and art curator Mona Hauser, and includes 15 unique rooms and suites. XVA is so well noted for its contemporary art from the region that other properties in Dubai even obtain their art from the gallery. That’s the case with the Hotel Indigo Dubai, which showcases a 200-piece collection sourced in part from XVA Gallery, with all of the items displayed being offered for sale.
The Norman Hotel
Tel Aviv, Israel
Located in Tel Aviv’s White City, a protected area of 4,000 Bauhaus-influenced buildings, The Norman Hotel has transformed two townhouses into a collection of 50 guestrooms, with one wing fully devoted to unique and expansive suites. Contemporary Israeli artwork is front and center in the property, including paintings, sculptures, photography and textiles, with the art often embodying the architecture and archeology of the area. The collection was originally curated by Tamar Dresdner, and has been in the hands of Robin Greene since 2019, while an on-site art concierge can coordinate purchasing pieces from the collection, or personalized art tours around the neighborhood, gallery opening visitations and studio visits.
The Bankside Hotel, Autograph Collection, is found in the neighborhood of the same name along the south bank of the Thames. The property opened in 2018 with art as a fundamental aspect of its offerings, taking advantage of its art-centric surroundings in direct proximity to the Tate Modern, Hayward Gallery and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre. Local artists created the hotel’s many murals and art installations, with Contemporary Collective curating myriad in-house exhibits. The makers-in-residence program offers space to emerging artists and allows guests to observe and also purchase works, while the hotel also plays host to a busy schedule of cultural events.
Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town makes another appearance on the list, though this time with a contemporary, chic choice in the city. The ultra-modern facade of The Silo Hotel catches the attention of visitors and passersby, as does its positioning atop the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa, or MOCAA. It’s the first major museum in Africa dedicated to contemporary art, and is located in a restored, historic building along the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront. The hotel’s own extensive art is curated by owner Liz Biden (no presidential relation, to our knowledge), who’s also the property’s interior designer. The Silo can also offer private, guided tours of the museum, while The Vault, in the hotel’s basement, is a separate private gallery.
Palm Beach, Florida
Newly opened in November 2020, the White Elephant Palm Beach brings the brand’s signature Nantucket splendor and style to south Florida. The 32-room property showcases more than 130 pieces of modern and pop art curated by the owners along with art consultant Emily Santangelo. The collection includes standout items from artists such as Robert Rauschenberg, Jennifer Bartlett, Kenzo Okada and Donald Baechler. A collection of six prints by Yinka Shonibare, who unveiled a sculpture installation in West Palm Beach in 2021, can be found on the second floor. If you ever want to feel bad about your own artistic aspirations, then consider that bathrooms even showcase a collection of pieces from Doodle Boy, a renowned 10-year-old British artist. Educational tours of the private collection are available on Saturday mornings.
Nemacolin is a sprawling resort in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Mountains composed of five different properties. Across the many buildings and communal spaces can be found more than 1,000 pieces of art from the Hardy family’s private collection. A few of the notable artists featured include Fernando Botero, George Hetzel, Frederic Remington, Clarice Smith and Giampaolo Seguso. Sculpture tours are available as a way to take in both the scenery of the area as well as the collection of outdoor pieces on display, as are indoor gallery tours, either independently or hosted by art curators. Art classes are offered for people of all ages and skill levels, ranging from a Pinot & Paint guided workshop to lessons from visiting artists.
Hotel Lou Pinet
The five-star boutique Hotel Lou Pinet reflects the inimitable and timeless style of its Saint-Tropez surroundings, as well as the area’s influence and allure in the art world. The art in the hotel is curated by the Pariente family, owners of the Maisons Pariente group of which the hotel is a member, and includes a diverse, contemporary collection of artists showcased across different mediums. Artwork is colorful and captivating, from a six-meter ceramic fresco by Armelle Benoit to the bronze columns by British sculptor Tony Cragg, designed to mimic the lines of the landscape. Alexandre Benjamin Navet, an artist who has collaborated with a number of the world’s leading luxury brands, has a colorful mural spanning the length of the restaurant, completed along with designer Charles Zana and taking inspiration from vintage Saint-Tropez postcards.
Dublin’s The Merrion Hotel is a luxury property restored from what were once four separate Georgian townhouses built in the 1760s directly across from the government’s central buildings, including the prime minister’s office. A grand collection matches the grand architecture, with the hotel’s art regarded as one of the most significant private collections of Irish artwork from the 19th and 20th centuries. Featured artists include the likes of Jack B. Yeats, Martin Mooney, Paul Henry, Nathaniel Hone, Mainie Jellet, Sir John Lavery and many others. An in-house audio guide is available for guided art tours of the property, and the property even keeps up its art focus when it comes time for afternoon tea: the Art Tea session features miniature desserts inspired by the artwork on display throughout the hotel.
La Samanna, A Belmond Hotel
Belmond’s La Samanna in St. Martin is dedicated to featuring original artwork from island artists. This includes Sir Roland Richardson, whose family ties on St. Martin date back to the 1700s. His famed “plein air” artwork, which captured a global audience including the likes of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, adorns every room of the hotel. Other artists include Norma and Corrina Trimborn, sisters who came to the island from Germany and set up a studio and gallery, and Nathalie Lepine. La Samanna also hosts an ongoing artist-in-residence series, the latest of which is French photographer François Castelain, with a gallery of portraits featuring island residents. Guests staying at the property during his stint can even book complimentary portraiture photography classes with him, offering a unique opportunity to gain firsthand insight.
Mandarin Oriental Ritz
The Mandarin Oriental Ritz in Madrid is a five-star Belle Époque palace fittingly located adjacent to the city’s “golden triangle of art,” the tight conglomeration of its famed Prado, Reina Sofia and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums. The hotel’s own artwork collection extends across the entire property, showcasing the city’s history and artistic legacy as well as its evolving present. The artwork also reflects its place in the city, with, for instance, a collection of close-up photographs from Prado artworks meant to showcase the painter’s art and skill, and inspire guests to see the originals in the museum with a different perspective. At Pictura, its cocktail bar, Madrileña artist Paula Anta has a Gallery of Portraits on display, a photographic series with references to classical portraiture to contemporary subjects. The hotel features a number of traditional and custom-designed sculptures, and even interactive art in the form of the “Geometría del Pensamiento,” a mirrored sculpture where guests are participants engaging with a play of perspectives.
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