Did someone say art hotel? Yaass, please.
There’s staying in a hotel and then there’s experiencing a hotel. You experience a hotel when you walk into a space that’s so perfectly designed that you feel calm, welcomed and a little excited. What is that? you think as you are drawn to something big and bold across the lobby, only to have your curiosity rewarded with a work of art that’s dramatic, clever and maybe thought-provoking. It’s rare to have that sort of interaction, but several hotels are embracing art as a way to entice the creative-minded traveler. In an art hotel, you are invited to live amidst museum-quality art for a few days; revel in the unexpected details that aren’t apparent the first, second or even third time you look at an artwork; energize and inspire yourself and your own creativity. An art hotel can be pricey, so if staying in one isn’t an option for you, keep in mind that enjoying a cocktail in the hotel bar while drinking in the art is.
Gramercy Park Hotel Drawing Room, courtesy of the Gramercy Park Hotel website.
1. Gramercy Park Hotel, New York, NY. For decades, the Gramercy Park Hotel has been the home away from home for writers, actors, rockers, intellectuals and athletes (think the Rolling Stones in the ’60s, Madonna in the ’80s and Lady Gaga today). It boasts an equally illustrious collection of contemporary American master artists such as Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Enoc Perez, Keith Haring and Tom Wesselman as well as British bad boy Damien Hirst. Artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel designed and curated much of the interior space. In its lobby, guest rooms, event spaces and bars, you’ll find a rotating selection of art, so you’ll be able to discover something new during each visit.
Audrey Hepburn by Yousuf Karsh, courtesy of the Bellagio website.
2. Bellagio, Las Vegas, NV. We know you aren’t going to Vegas for the art, but that doesn’t mean you can’t mix your pleasures. At the Bellagio, you can dine surrounded by works from the master in the Picasso restaurant or view an exhibition in the Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art. The Yousuf Karsh: Icons of the 20th Century exhibit opened in March and continues through September 5, 2016. One of the most important studio portrait photographers of the twentieth century, Karsh captured the essence of politicians, athletes and celebrities from Winston Churchill and Alfred Hitchcock to Audrey Hepburn.
The Joule entry hall with Untitled by Rogers Hiorns, courtesy of The Joule website.
3. The Joule, Dallas, TX. Adjacent to the bustling Dallas Arts District, The Joule is one of those places that makes you feel energized and more creative the moment you walk in the front door. In the Commerce Street lobby, there’s a giant jewel-like piece encased in glass. Upon closer inspection, Untitled, 2013 by Roger Hiorns is two engine blocks encrusted with glittering crystals, a nod to the energy industry that has made Dallas what it is. Throughout the art hotel and grounds, the collection of over 100 pieces from artists including Andy Warhol, Ellsworth Kelly, Tony Cragg, Roger Hiorns, Tony Tasset and Arturo Herrera invite you for a closer look. If, after luxuriating in the art, you want to take a small part of this experience home, the chic Taschen bookstore has hundreds of art, fashion and design books from which to choose.
Obsessive Compulsive by Barbara Segal, courtesy of the Hotel Ella website.
4. Hotel Ella, Austin, TX. Close to the Blanton Museum of Art, The Contemporary Austin and the Mexic-Arte Museum, the Hotel Ella celebrates Austin’s history while positioning the iconic mansion-turned-hotel solidly in the present through its collections of historic artifacts and modern art. Photos by Ansel Adams hang on the walls; an on-site sculpture garden with works including Barbara Segal’s Obsessive Compulsive, a 2,000-marble Chanel handbag graces the entrance; and major sculptural works by Charles Umlauf, a well-known artist who started the School of Fine Arts at the University of Texas, create a luxurious space where the past and present gracefully intersect.
Hombre de Hierro by Miguel Antonia Horn/Traction Company, courtesy of The Logan Hotel.
5. The Logan, Philadelphia, PA. One of the newest hotels with its own contemporary art collection, The Logan commands a block opposite Logan Square on Philadelphia’s Museum Mile, walking distance from the Barnes Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Just inside the front doors of Logan, look up and you’re greeted with a collection of photos of famous Philadelphians such as Walt Whitman, Margaret Mead, Louisa May Alcott and over 300 others, in a chandelier designed by local artist collective Traction Company. Throughout the space and in the rooms, visitors can explore the 1,600-piece collection, many from local artists, like Miguel Antonia Horn, a member of Traction Company, who created Hombre de Hierro, a topographical construction of stacked steel plates that pays homage to the industrial beginnings of the city.
The Surrey Hotel Lobby with Kate Moss by Chuck Close, courtesy of The Surrey Hotel.
6. The Surrey, New York, NY. Located in one of the most exclusive neighborhoods in New York City, the Upper East Side just blocks from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Surrey evokes one’s own luxurious private townhouse. Inside the entrance hall are photos from Jenny Holzer and a well-known tapestry by Chuck Close of Kate Moss. Other artists in their 31-piece collection include Jimmie Martin, Claus Oldenburg, William Kentridge, Donald Sulton, Matthias Weischer, Richard Serra, Mel Bochner, Cecily Brown and Imogen Cunningham. In addition to the permanent collection, Art Expert in Residence Natasha Schlesinger curates temporary exhibitions in partnership with arts-happenings like Asia Week and Frieze New York.
Asleep in the Cyclone by Johan Freeman and Justin Lowe, courtesy of 21C Museum Hotels.
7. 21c Museum Hotels, Louisville, KY; Cincinnati, OH, Bentonville, AR; Durham, NC; Lexington,KY; Oklahoma City, OK (under construction). 21c Museum Hotels are a new boutique hotel and restaurant group started by art collectors. It shows. Designed first and foremost as a museum, each hotel’s exhibition space is everywhere: in the lobby, galleries, elevator lobbies, corridors, restaurants and guest rooms. If you’ve ever dreamt of living inside an artist’s installation, the Louisville location is the place to do it. There, New York-based artists Johan Freeman and Justin Lowe created Asleep in the Cyclone, a site-specific, multisensory installation that is also a functional hotel room. So if seeing art isn’t enough for you, try living inside it for a night or two. Each of their five current locations features an impressive collection of contemporary art from the 2,500-piece collection of international artists whose roster includes Kehinde Wiley, Bill Viola, Mickelene Thomas, Kara Walker, Chuck Close, Edward Burtynsky, Andres Serrano, Nick Cave, Anthony Goicolea, Hank Willis Thomas and Robert Wilson.
Pic Nic Poker by Massimo Vitali, courtesy of the Sagamore website.
8. The Sagamore, Miami, FL. If you go to Miami for the art scene, you have Art Basel, the aligning of all the art stars, to thank. It, perhaps more than any other phenomenon, has helped to create the thriving art scene you see everywhere in Miami today. Before Art Basel came to Miami, the Sagamore opened and was affectionately nicknamed the Art Hotel. Here the private collection of hotel owners Marty and Cricket Taplin becomes an integral part of your hotel experience. Quotes from artists adorn the walls, along with sculptures, video installations, site-specific installations, photographs, paintings and more by established and emerging artists including William Eggleston, Massimo Vitali, Neil Farber, Peter Zimmermann, Carolyn Shave, Flip Schulke, Angel Marcos and Robert Gniewek.