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.

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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.

The Thief

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.

El Fenn

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

Photo by Shi­geo An­zai

RIGHT: The min­i­mal­ist de­sign of Be­nesse House Mu­seum, de­signed by ar­chi­tect Tadao Ando, over­look­ing the Seto In­land Sea

Photo by Nao­haru Obayashi

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

Photo by David Lof­tus

BE­LOW: The rooftop ter­race where the beau­ti­ful jetset min­gles at night

Photo by Kasia Gatkowska

ABOVE: Artis­tic nooks such as this are plen­ti­ful in the colour­ful El Fenn

45 Park Lane’s restaurant

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