Hotels are where to find great art
Art connoisseurs would do well to book a stay in one of these stunning hotels, whose art collections would put many museums to shame. Come for the luxe amenities, stay for the art.
Art is now regarded as a crucial element of luxury and hotel guests expect to be excited and challenged by their environment. “Luxury hotels are discovering that quality art, engagement and authenticity are keys to forging meaningful relationships with guests,” says Lily Ackerman of art consultancy, Ackerman Studios in London.
Some hotels work with art galleries or studios to curate and showcase art not just from well-known international artists but from emerging talent as well. Occasionally, collectors will collaborate with hotels to display their treasures that would otherwise not be seen by the public, thrilling and captivate guests. Other owners keep adding art, as pieces they love become available or they develop relationships and work with established modern art museums. Still others create museums and then add hotel rooms into the space creating the genre of museum art hotel.
The best experience for guests however is when the art and the space seem to blend seamlessly, a setting where they can be mesmerised by the work but be at ease in the space where it is displayed. France’s 20th century hotel, La Colombe d’Or (The Golden Dove) is still the quintessential “art hotel” because it grew out of being a haven for artists. This 25-room boutique hotel in the village of Saint Paul de Vence in the South of France started out in 1920 as a café-bar with an open-air terrace where artists and socialites gathered to drink and dance. The owner at the time, Paul Roux and his wife Baptistine, converted it to a three-bedroom inn and it quickly became a favourite haunt of the likes of Henri Matisse, Marc Chagall, Pablo Picasso and fellow Spaniard Joan Miro. Such was the relationship between the artists and Paul that they frequently exchanged a piece of art for a stay or meals at the inn.
This tradition continued throughout the 20th century and the result is dining rooms, bedrooms, corridors, terraces and gardens awash with art and sculpture. Guests are greeted by Cesar Baldaccini’s iconic Thumb sculpture outside the main entrance and then get to dine with a Picasso or Matisse, have drinks on the terrace in the presence of a ceramic mural installed in the 1950s by painter and filmmaker Fernand Leger or swim in the presence of a more recent mural by Irish American artist Sean Scully or be simply mesmerised by Alexander Calder’s signature mobile sculpture by the pool. This amazing legacy of art has set a benchmark that seems almost impossible to surpass. La Colombe d’Or
Benesse House Museum
The property is part of the “Benesse Art Site Naoshima”, a project of art-related activities by the Fukutake Foundation and Benesse Holdings Inc., spread over the islands of Naoshima and Teshima in Kagawa Prefecture and on Inujima Island in Okayama Prefecture, all of which are all easily accessed from Benesse House, which also includes three additional properties called Oval, Beach and Park. Oval has six guestrooms with vast floor-to-ceiling windows that look out over the Inland sea. Some guestrooms are decorated with drawings created by artists. One of the rare wooden buildings that Ando designed, Park sits on a gentle slope surrounded by the beauty of Setouchi. Guestroom verandas from this building look out into the green lawn dotted with artwork. Inside are art spaces, an exclusive lounge, restaurant and a shop. The accommodations at Beach are just steps away from the shoreline with suitestyle rooms that are perfect for families. Japan’s Benesse House Museum in spectacular Naoshima overlooking the Seto Inland Sea has been thrilling art lovers since 1992. Designed by celebrated Japanese architect Tadao Ando, the building has vast apertures that frame the splendid natural surroundings, in keeping with the project’s ethos of “coexistence of nature, art and architecture.” The boutique property has 10 rooms, including two suites and guests enjoy a fully immersive experience of contemporary art not just within the building but in scattered locations along the seashore and in the nearby forest. Among exhibits are works ranging in styles from photographer and architect, Hiroshi Sugimoto and Yukinori Yanangi to British land artist Richard Long contrasted with work from pop artist David Hockney and American, Tom Wesselman together with British sculptor, Sir Antony Gormley’s Sublimate IV.Yayoi Kusama’s Pumpkin and Niki de Saint Phalle’s pieces are among the numerous delights outdoors.
The Dolder Grand
Initially established in 1899, this plush Zurich hotel overlooking Lake Zurich was completely refurbished by British architects, Foster and Partners in 2008 and to complete the luxury experience the hotel upgraded its art collection, which now includes over 100 works from 90 different artists. These include a Salvador Dali in the restaurant, Andy Worhol’s
Big Retrospective in the reception and a wonderful Henry Moore and a couple of Takashi Murakamis on the garden terraces while the spa terrace is home to the wonderful Fernando Botero’s Woman with
Fruit. The hotel is proud of its older works too: for example Abraham Bisschop’s Swan paintings in the library are quiet favourites.
To facilitate guests’ engagement with the art, the hotel gives guests an “Art iPad” to guide them through the artworks on display.
This wonderful ode to contemporary art is situated on Tjuvholmen (Thief Islet) in Oslo, which has been transformed from an area of criminals and shady goings-on to a thriving centre of art. Owner Petter Stordalen is a well-known Norwegian collector and a private sponsor of The Thief’s neighbour, Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art. Hence a steady stream of exceptional artworks both from his private collection and loans from museums make their way to the walls and spaces of this trendy hotel. Exhibitions are curated by Sune Nordgren, former director of Norway’s National Museum of Art and feature work from a range of contemporary artists from Andy Warhol to Sir Antony Gormley. The Horse Thief painting by Richard Prince is in the reception area. Nordgren has hand-picked original artwork for each of the 116 rooms and include work from celebrated artists such as Sir Peter Blake, Norway’s Magne Furuholmen, Bjorn Ransve and Kjell Nupen as well as emerging talent.
A favourite of the chic and stylish set, Riad El Fenn, which means “House of the Arts” in Arabic, is aptly named. The hotel, which is housed in a collection of riads – a traditional Moroccan house with a central, fountained courtyard – oozes art and creativity in its 28 rooms and suites, plus a rooftop terrace. Established by Vanessa Branson (sister of British entrepreneur Richard Branson) and business partner Howell James in 2004, El Fenn is one of the first hotels in Marrakech converted from old riads. Branson is an avid art collector and used to have a gallery in London. Now her collection graces the walls and spaces of the hotel and also founded the Marrakech Biennale. The hotel constantly updates its exhibitions and installations from local and international artists. It’s a great place to discover and buy contemporary art and artisanal crafts. Among the pieces include a stunning chandelier created by Francis Upritchard, while the library features the work of British Moroccan artist Hassan Hajjaj. Ink studies by Sir Anton Gormley hang on bedroom walls, while a set of photographs of Morocco taken by Terence Donovan in the 1960s adorn the walls, as well as a grid of beautiful images by German photographer Hans Silvester. Branson is a collector of Arabic artists such as Batoul S’Himi and Guy Tillim, whose works are in the walls and spaces of this stunning hotel.
45 Park Lane
Dorchester’s 45 Park Lane in London is on the way to becoming a must-visit with works from some of the most eminent British contemporary artists being displayed on all floors of the hotel: Damien Hirst’s Psalms adorn the restaurant and the godfather of pop art Sir Peter Blake has created a bespoke commission for the Penthouse suite. Ackerman Studios curated the work and Lily Ackerman says: “Over the past six years the hotel has gained a reputation for holding a series of exclusive exhibitions and gallery residences, providing a platform for emerging artists alongside its collection of established artworks.”
Previous exhibitions have included American pop artist, Robert Indiana, photographer Alan Silfen, known for his photographs of Lionel Ritchie and French painter and sculptor Julian Marinetti known for his bull dog sculptures Doggy Johns, whilst artwork by recognised names such as Patrick Hughes, Christian Furr and Bruce McLean hang as part of the permanent collection. This year’s focus is on emerging artists, with six bespoke exhibitions including a show featuring Joe Webb who has produced artwork for album covers for Coldplay and The Madden Brothers and Janelle Monae.
“Part of the ‘hotel art’ success,” says Ackerman, “is the attraction for potential patrons to view artworks in a living space; in an environment similar to a private home rather than a gallery space. For exhibiting artists it is exposure to the world’s most affluent and discerning travellers in a new environment, travellers who are potentially collectors for life.”
BELOW: Swim with an Alexander Calder mobile sculpture in La Colombe d’Or
RIGHT: The minimalist design of Benesse House Museum, designed by architect Tadao Ando, overlooking the Seto Inland Sea
Wide spaces and big windows showcase the art in Benesse House Museum
The view from The Dolder Grand’s Golf Suite Terrace
Richard Prince’s The Horse Thief takes pride of place in The Thief’s lobby
CLOCKWISE TOP LEFT: Sculpture by Takashi Murakami overlooking the garden in The Dolder Grand
The Thief’s industrial chic exterior
BELOW: The rooftop terrace where the beautiful jetset mingles at night
ABOVE: Artistic nooks such as this are plentiful in the colourful El Fenn
45 Park Lane’s restaurant