The writer Joan Didion once said of hotels that they “have always been social ideas, flawless mirrors to the particular societies they service.” And, for the art aficionados looking to experience something entirely unique, this shortlist of hotels promise to make good on Didion’s claim.
From the suite you can share with an original Warhol, to the hotels that have been designed by world-renowned architects, these are the places to check into if you like your travel with a decadent dose of culture.
For a beautiful boutique getaway: The Merchant House, Bahrain
Bahrain’s first ever five-star boutique hotel, The Merchant House, was only unveiled this February. Following this exciting opening, the capital city of Manama gained its newest and arguably most extraordinary art gallery.
Alongside showcasing emerging talent from Bahrain and the Gulf region, The Merchant House is home to pieces by some of the world’s most revered artists. Spend the night here and you’ll be in the company of works by Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, Matisse, Gaugin, Chagall and Toulouse-Lautrec.
Complementing Bahrain’s impressive and growing art scene, The Merchant House is perfectly positioned for guests looking to enjoy the Bahrain International Art Fair.
The Merchant House
For the contemporary collector: Le Gray, Beruit
The Le Gray hotel in Beirut is itself is a contemporary piece of artwork ‚ having been designed by renowned interior designer Mary Fox Linton, in collaboration with Gordon Campbell Gray. Thanks to its light, white and bright spaces, the hotel is reminiscent of a modern art gallery — and serves as the perfect backdrop for the private, contemporary collection.
More than 500 hand-selected pieces across a range of mediums can be found in Le Gray, by artists from all over the world. Amongst the countries represented are Cuba and Ethiopia as well as exhibiting pieces from local Beirut-based artists.
Le Gray Beruit
For undeniable French charm: La Colombe d'Or, France
The story of La Colombe d’Or is a remarkable one, and it begins in 1920 when local farmer Paul Roux opened a café-bar in the village of Saint Paul.
During WW2, the most influential painters and members of the literati paid for their accommodation in these rooms with their work. Masters including Matisse, Picasso, Léger, Braque and Chagall can be found hung casually all around the hotel today.
Despite its rich cultural significance, La Colombe d’Or maintains a simple, rustic charm — bed linens are soft white, and the décor is understated throughout. The effect is to ensure that guests’ eyes remain firmly fixed on whichever masterpiece they happen to be sleeping with.
La Colombe d'Or
For the best of Chinese art: PuXuan Hotel, Beijing
Located just minutes away from the Forbidden City and Beijing’s main commercial and shopping district, the PuXuan Hotel sits within the nerve centre of the Chinese capital.
Designed by internationally renowned German architect, Ole Scheeren, the hotel sits atop the new Guardian Art Centre at the intersection of WangFuJing Street and WuSi Street. Its situation is symbolic — as the crossroads of commerce and arts in the city. Alongside the hotel, this building serves as the headquarters for China’s oldest art auction house, as well as an exhibition space.
The PuXuan has 116 rooms within the glass upper ring of the building —115 of which feature an art safe. These are custom-designed to store any pieces purchased by guests during their stay. Throughout the hotel, sculptures, ceramics and paintings are displayed, in celebration of Chinese artists — both established and emerging.
For pieces you’ll want to stow away: The Thief
Just a stone’s throw from the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Contemporary Art, brainchild of Renzo Piano, The Thief sits opposite Akershus Fortress on the Oslofjord. The hotel pays homage to its cultural surroundings, exhibiting an array of oeuvres, both local and overseas in origin.
This is an esteemed design hotel that has received wide international praise for its cultural and artistic credentials. Filled with stunning furniture pieces by designers including Tom Dixon, Anne Haavind and Stokke Austad. The interiors are peppered with contemporary artworks by iconic artists hand-picked and curated by Sune Nordgren.
For a hotel with serious edge: The Beaumont Hotel, London
The Beaumont occupies a Grade II-listed 1926 Art Deco building in Mayfair. Inspired by the great Art Deco hotels of the 1930s, it is a hotel which seeks to recapture the spirit of old-world luxury.
The most notable piece of art at The Beaumont is undoubtedly ROOM, by internationally celebrated artist, Antony Gormley. The three-storey inhabitable sculpture, and was created as an experiential work of art — and the monumental bedroom stands at ten metres high, clad entirely in dark fumed oak, and furnished with only a bed. It is a project which allowed Gormley “to sculpt darkness itself.”
For those more inclined to a brighter evening, the hotel’s bar has undergone a ‘soft’ refurbishment, and a new selection of painting and original posters have been hung on the new blue burlap walling. Set centre-stage within the bespoke suede-lined bookcase is René Magritte’s oil, Le Maitre d’École, from which the bar takes its name.
The walls of the public areas, bedrooms and suites are adorned with black and white photographs as well as original oils, which feature both anonymous and significant individuals of the era. Artists featured include John Lavalle, Julian Lamar, Walter I Cox, Robert Knight Ryland and other small collections by Phyllis Bray and Zelda Fitzgerald.
The Beaumont Hotel
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