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The Top 7 Art Hotels of the World

May 11, 2017

Hotels & SpasLifestyle | by Annie Biziou

From pioneering social initiatives to coveted old-world collections, we’ve scoured the world for the most unusual and inspiring places to stay for those with a penchant for art in our Top 7 Art Hotels of the World.

A Warhol quote on the wall in a room at The Renwick, New York
The Gertrude Stein Suite at The Renwick, New York

The Renwick, New York

Once the enclave of choice for New York’s artists and authors, this midtown building is now home to The Renwick, a slick one hundred and seventy-three-room hotel. While its interiors may have had a serious overhaul, The Renwick pays homage to its artistic past with many a reference to its former clientele. In the rooms, loud carpets emulate the paint-splattered concrete of a studio floor, with desks made to resemble an artist’s workbench. There’s a full kit of sketch paper, pencils and origami for guests to get stuck into in every room, while the Artist Suite includes easels, canvases and paint. The lobby features a graffiti work by Gregory Siff, which is continually in progress. Bedford & Co. references the property’s former name, and serves as the hotel’s restaurant and bar with a series of cocktails inspired by literary greats – the Gatsby cocktail will (perhaps predictably) set you back the most at $85.

The lounge at Green Rooms, London

Green Rooms, London

The continued overhaul on London’s suburbs is encouraging a flurry of interesting establishments to open their doors, not least Green Rooms; an innovative hotel-cum-artists’ retreat in Wood Green. This affordable sanctuary, located approximately twenty minutes by tube to the West End, is first and foremost a social enterprise; a port in a storm for a young creative crowd seeking respite from the city and networking opportunities. Based in a striking, early Art Deco building, Green Rooms has a selection of accommodation options from dormitories to studio apartments. They’re economical by London standards, but stylishly designed by architects Soda, retaining their original wood floors and featuring vintage furniture and lighting by fashion label Folk. There’s a Colombian Street Kitchen on the ground floor dishing up empanadas. It’s the perfect spot to start a conversation with likeminded creatives.

The on-premises art gallery at Ellerman House, Cape Town

Ellerman House, Cape Town

Aside from being an Edwardian landmark on Cape Town’s coast, Ellerman House is an esteemed and longstanding hotel with true dedication to the art world. The collection is focused on famous South African artists, comprising twentieth century landscapes and contemporary township depictions among its assemblage of almost one thousand original pieces –in fact it’s so well regarded that the hotel is often a pit stop for visiting art enthusiasts on tour. The beautifully restored mansion’s fresh feel is offset with a medley of antiques and artworks, and each of the eleven rooms and two modern villas are showered with paintings. Then there’s the striking location on the Bantry Bay cliffs, and the manicured gardens leading to the separately housed Contemporary Gallery, where works by the likes of multidimensional artist William Kentridge can be found. Modernists can even enjoy a self-guided tour with an iPad.

Hotel Valley Ho Loft Suite Bedroom, Scottsdale
Hotel Valley Ho Presidential Loft Suite, Scottsdale

Hotel Valley Ho, Scottsdale

A time capsule into the Mid Century Modern Art era, Hotel Valley Ho’s doors opened in 1956 and the desert-based, architectural jewel has been refitted to contemporary perfection without loosing an ounce of the charm that has made it a Hollywood favourite, both then and now. A suite in The Tower will transport you to a sophisticated-chic loft, complete with considered, present-day luxuries. Every space has its own, unique layout and finishings with nods to Mies van der Rohe, Eames, Baughmann and Wormley underscoring the furniture. Carefully edited pieces of pottery, floating stairs, paintings, glass panels and small decorative accents deliver the ‘wow’ factor, while outside your door, palm-fringed pools and the desert-inspired restaurant, ZuZu keep you refreshed and sustained. Over twenty art galleries dot the ArtWalk just outside the hotel’s front door – an exploratory offering that will make you want to return again and again and again.

The terrace at Kristiania, Lech
One of the one-off bedrooms at Kristiania, Lech

Kristiania, Lech

If you think the slopes are all about getting active, Kristiania is here to prove you’re wrong. This boutique hotel brings a legacy of magnificent artworks to the frosty surrounds of Lech. While the Austrian village may be a favourite destination for many a ski connoisseur, Kristiania gives art worshippers something to tackle too; a curated collection of over two hundred contemporary paintings, prints, sculptures and tapestries from the Schneider family. Walls are embellished with pieces by the likes of Sam Francis, Max Cole, Max Bill and Roy Lichtenstein, covering contemporary movements from pop art to abstract impressionism. A three-part dining room reveals a rotating collection of antiquities and mixed media artworks, and the hotel proudly sponsors an installation commissioned by an internationally renowned, contemporary artist every two years. Kristiania even has its own art-focused TV channel, broadcast in each of its twenty-nine individually-designed rooms.

Atelier Sul Mare, Sicily

Atelier Sul Mare, Sicily

Long before part-hotel, part-museums became a trend, Atelier Sul Mare had made its unusual mark on the Sicilian coast. Twenty of its forty rooms were designed by internationally recognised artists and creatives, among them Fabrizio Plessi, Paolo Icaro and Hidetoshi Nagasawa. Water plays a large part in the artists’ inspiration – no surprise with the ocean just footsteps away­­ – but it’s conceived in different ways. The Tower of Sigismondo room, envisioned by Chilean film director Raul Ruiz, is dark and moody, while Energy channels vibrant reds and geometric furniture, and Lunaria makes way for a peaceful, dreamlike experience inspired by author Vincenzo Consolo. The Room of the Forbidden Sea features screens in the ceiling that play clips of waves on the shore. The rooms are eccentric and minimalist, allowing the views to take pride of place, and for guests to also play their part in each room­ – living, transient art if you like.

Leo Villareal’s custom light installation at the ART Hotel, Denver – 22,000 white LED nodes feature an ever-changing light display of abstract patterns.
Anatomy Lessons, 1994 – a video by Lars Kremer, part of the ART hotel in Denver’s permanent collection

The ART Hotel, Denver

Denver’s latest hotspot is the ART hotel, stuffed to the rafters with contemporary installations, celebrated artworks, intricate tapestries and sculptures. The experience starts in the lobby, with its undulating twenty-two thousand light installation by Leo Villareal, and continues through to the Portico Gallery, which features pieces gathered by Denver Art Museum curator, Dianne Vanderlip. There’s a second gallery, which also serves as the check-in zone, where panoramic city views sit alongside works by Ed Ruscha, Nancy Rubins, Deborah Butterfield and Kiki Smith. All rooms are graced with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the city or the Rocky Mountains, each with a plethora of paintings and lithographs adorning the walls. The collection features pieces acquired as far afield as Vietnam or Dusseldorf, but there’s still a strong sense of homegrown artistry here too – not least Larry Bell’s dazzling focal point installation in the hotel’s restaurant, FIRE.