In recent years, bold, blue-chip art has become a must-have amenity at many of the world’s best hotels. For a lot of travelers, there’s something particularly thrilling about cohabiting with important works of art for a few days, even if you can’t take them home. Indeed, the trend is increasingly redefining what luxury vacations look like.
Just in time for the last wave of summer holidays this August, we’ve come up with a list of eight hotels worth visiting for their art alone, from noteworthy contemporary collections and experiential outdoor installations, to artist-in-residency programs and crazy decor inspired entirely by artists.
The Peninsula, Hong Kong
The Peninsula Hong Kong, the hotel giant’s flagship property, has long been recognized as one of Asia’s best. Beyond its ornate, colonial-era architecture and famous afternoon high tea service, the property has also garnered attention in recent years for its stellar art initiatives.
Beginning with the 2014 “Love Art at the Peninsula Hong Kong” project, which offered public art experiences led by contemporary talents like Tracey Emin and Richard Wilson on the hotel grounds, the Peninsula’s arts program has only expanded. It now includes a conversation series with artists from both Hong Kong and abroad, trips to galleries and museums around the city, and a traveling exhibition for all Peninsula properties titled “Art in Resonance,” that comprises immersive installation works by Janet Echelman, Iván Navarro, Timothy Paul Myers, and the Shanghai-based artist and architect Zhi-gang Lu of MINAX collective.
The Dolder Grand, Zurich
The Zurich-based Dolder Grand hotel, set on the edge of the Swiss Adilsberg forest, offers old-world luxury and a seriously impressive collection of contemporary art. With over 100 paintings and sculptural works by artists like Takashi Murakami, Joan Miró, Niki de Saint Phalle, Fernando Botero, Henry Moore, Damien Hirst, Keith Haring, and Andy Warhol—who greets visitors via an enormous, 11-meter painting hung above the reception desk as soon as you enter the building—the Dolder has become an art destination of sorts in and of itself.
With sprawling lawns and gardens that host its largest-scale sculptures, the art experience extends outside, offering the prospect of long, aesthetically pleasing strolls through art and nature.
Casa Malca, Tulum
New York-based bigwig art dealer Lio Malca—who represents artists such as KAWS, Warhol, and Jean-Michel Basquiat—renovated a property he stumbled upon in Tulum in 2012, filling it with striking contemporary art and turning it into nine-bedroom boutique hotel. At Casa Malca, each bedroom showcases bold artwork that contrasts against its otherwise beach-y, neutral-toned interiors.
The art extends into the rest of the hotel, too: A Keith Haring print wallpapers the hotel bar, a KAWS sculpture features prominently in the lobby, and an immersive light installation provides a backdrop for the ground-floor pool.
Hotel Lungarno, Florence
Overlooking the Arno River and the iconic Ponte Vecchio bridge, this understated, classically-designed boutique hotel makes up for what it lacks in bold design with a sizeable—and stunning—art collection. Over 400 works by Pablo Picasso, Jean Cocteau, Antonio Bueno, and several Italian contemporary and postwar painters—including Bruno Cassinari, Virgilio Guidi, Ennio Morlotti, and Ottone Rosai—dot the walls of the rooms, lobbies, restaurant, and charming riverfront Picteau bar.
The sleek blue-and-white interiors complement the hotel’s place as the sole Florentine hotel property set upon on the Arno itself. Interior designer Michael Bonan likens the Lungarno experience to that of a “cruise ship sailing down the river,” explaining that the hotel was designed “to accentuate the sense of endlessly drifting on the river, but with the Ponte Vecchio—a symbol of Florence—as your point of reference.”
Tucked away in North Adams, Massachusetts, a stone’s throw away from the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, is the recently opened Tourists hotel and riverside retreat. Offering beautiful, city-free vistas from the foothills of the Berkshires, the hotel—conceived as a high-design version of the American motor lodge—comprises 48 beautifully decorated rooms. Among its amenities are hikes around its woodland trails, as well as tours of its immersive outdoor sculptural and installation-based art, all made by young artists.
Recent projects include Chime Chapel, a life-size playable structure built using wind-chimes by the artist collective New Orleans Airlift, and a psychedelic video installation featuring footage of the surrounding landscape by the Chicago-based artist duo, Luftwerk.
The famed Bermuda-based Hamilton Princess Hotel & Beach Clubs—nicknamed “The Pink Palace” by locals—has been around since 1885. The beachfront property boasts around 300 modern and pop artworks, strewn about the hotel and its grounds, including pieces by Banksy, Warhol (a whopping 40 works!), Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, KAWS, Julian Opie, Yayoi Kusama, and Ai Weiwei.
Every Saturday, the hotel also offers official tours of its art, lead by the in-house curator.
The Alila Yangshuo, Guilin
It’s difficult to find a resort more beautiful than the Alila Yangshuo, a former sugar factory and cluster of 1960s buildings located an hour south of Guilin, in southern China. The structures were rescued by the Alila group and turned into a state-of-the-art hotel property featuring 117 rooms, restaurants, gardens, and art-filled meditation areas. Surrounded by limestone mountains, caves, and the winding Yulong River, the space serves as a cutting-edge oasis far from China’s bustling cities.
Its raw but sophisticated design nods to its industrial past, built from cement, washed stone, and recycled timber. As for its collection of art, it’s made up solely of works by Chinese artists, from traditional paintings to contemporary pieces by international stars such as Cai Guo-Qiang and Zeng Fanzhi.
The Conrad Downtown in New York’s Battery Park was planned by architects Kohn Penderson Fox with art specifically in mind. Upon entry, an enormous mural by Sol LeWitt features prominently over the hotel’s 16-story atrium lobby, across from which sits a sculptural piece comprised of cable-like wires by architect Monica Ponce de Leon.
Inside, more works by the likes of Ellsworth Kelly, Julian Schnabel, Elizabeth Peyton, and Frank Stella are strewn around the space. All in all, the Conrad collection totals a staggering 2,000 works, and was selected with the help of the New York-based non-profit Public Art Fund.
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