The Surrey’s guests are a perplexed bunch. Something in the hotel lobby slows them in their tracks and has their full attention.
It’s a masterpiece or, according to a gentleman’s raised eyebrow, something less deserving of the title. That won’t stop him from getting lost in it for a good couple of minutes though.
And with good cause. Dressed in black and white, spanning from floor to ceiling and wearing no makeup, never has international supermodel Kate Moss been more grandiose, or candid, as in her portrait at the Surrey. Love it or hate it, American artist Chuck Close’s large scale and unashamedly up close photograph will have you under its spell. It’s art. And it wouldn’t look out of place two blocks away, at The Met, alongside the work of Walker Evans or Thomas Ruff. But it’s in a hotel, and that says a lot.
Admittedly, there’s nothing ground breaking about fine art and luxury hotels jumping in bed together. In fact, they’re lifetime partners. But over time, the dynamics of the relationship have changed. Hoteliers no longer see art as mere decoration, but something to create a sense of identity for their property, and give it its soul.
If you want the best examples of where this trend is applied, we’ve made a list of the hotels which, in our opinion, show the strongest connections to art through curated pieces. In these properties, reproductions and paintings of mallards and fruit bowls are anathema. Instead, expect art concierges, curators and collections which, may or may not, be the envy of some museums. Happy browsing.
The Gramercy Park hotel’s impressive collection features pieces from Basquiat, Warhol, Picasso, Damien Hirst and Keith Haring… and it has the audacity to have an ever changing roster on display. Curated by the hotel’s interior designer, Julian Schnabel, the art here fits in a setting that feels more like an artists’ home- spontaneous, bohemian and edgy- than anything contrived. And it works. If you want to get your art fix and skip the queues at the MoMA, a seat by the fireplace at the Gramercy Park will do nicely.
We wouldn’t be surprised if someone, somewhere, considers Le Royal Monceau Paris as their muse. It’s easy to find inspiration here. Just ask Julie Eugene, the hotel’s art concierge, who can book you in for a private viewing of most collections in the city, or at the very least, point you to the best ones in town. If you’re new to Paris’s art scene and looking to explore, there’s no better introduction.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. In every guest room (designed by Phillip Stark), there’s an acoustic guitar just begging to be strummed and on the walls, beautiful photography by the likes of Koichiro Doi and Lucien Hervé (among others) takes place of pride. The hotel also has its own in-house art gallery, which serves as a regular haunt for the city’s art insiders, and an intimate venue to appreciate the work of top international artists without fighting through the crowds. Last but not least, the hotel is home to “La Librairie des Arts” a well stocked bookstore dedicated to… we’ll let you guess.
The Rosewood Beijing is a hotel that will make you reconsider any preconceptions you may have about China. A symbol of the ever-changing face of Beijing, staying in this hotel is the perfect way to help you get up to speed.
It also puts you in a prime seat to catch China’s up and coming artists before they explode onto the international art scene. It’s been a long time coming, but when Ai Weiwei and Zeng Fanzhi started the writing on the wall, few would guess at the full blown story that the likes of Ren Hang and Liu Wei would help write, but now it seems that the world – and the Chinese themselves – are crazy for Asian contemporary art. And the Rosewood Beijing is happy to oblige.
The hotel is home to a curated collection of local art and is proof that the Rosewood has its sense of place tag close to heart. The hotel pledged a commitment to the city’s emerging artists by providing a venue to showcase their work, and that’s exactly what it does for the pleasure of all guests. Complex calligraphy, ornate sculptures and vivid paintings can be found on every floor and common area of the hotel, and even if you’re on an in and out kind of business trip, it’s hard to resist exploring all levels of the Rosewood to see what you can find.
The lavish form of Fernando Botero’s “Reclining Woman” greets the guests of the St Regis Singapore, and sets the tone for the art-filled experience that’s to come. If the Colombian artist’s work isn’t enough, Li Chen’s sculpture of Buddha riding a dragon or Anthony Poon’s abstract wave forms on the outskirts of the building should make it clear.
The St Regis group strengthens its connection with the arts by showcasing one of the finest collections in South East Asia. And with over 70 works from Western and Asian artists including Pablo Picasso, Chua Ek Kay, Marc Chagall and Jian Miró, the reputation is a well-deserved one.
And we’re back at the Surrey’s lobby staring at Kate Moss. Due to its location, and the pieces that you will find inside, the Surrey is hands down one of the best hotels for art lovers in the world. Found where Museum Mile meets Madison Avenue, you’re also only minutes away from some of the greatest cultural centers in the world, and though it’s a great idea to visit them all, don’t forget what’s underneath your own roof.
A large number of contemporary artists have expressed themselves in various mediums across the hotel. London-based furniture brand, Jimmie Martin went to work on a graffiti-clad armoire, South African artist, William Kentridge contributes an elaborate video installation, and of course, there’s the aforementioned Chuck Close piece, among many others. If you want to know more about these works and any temporary installations set in the hotel, Natascha Schlesinger, founder of ArtMuse and the hotel’s resident expert, is your go to guide.