In addition to being a home away from home during your trip, these culturally switched-on hotels provide something more: a new and novel connection to culture and art.
By Cecilia Chan (translated from Chinese)
The faint smell of turpentine from the oil paintings greets you as you open the door. As you soak in the bath, you meditate on one of the pieces; if you like, you can take it home with you, as long as you’re willing to pay the accompanying price tag.
It seems that combining hotels with art is an increasingly popular methods of marketing. No longer sufficient to use art works as props to give that feeling of ‘local culture’, the art hotel is in fact a living museum, rich in eye-catching elements and comfortable enough to keep you staying. Maybe you can’t define whether it’s modern art or realism, but the moment you turn off the light, the images you have glimpsed will linger in your head.
Four Seasons Hotel Firenze – Florence
Florence was once the most famous art center in Europe. In addition to its prestigious garden, the Four Seasons Hotel Florence in Italy boasts 116 rooms and possesses a rich collection of both Italian and international art, some of which can be appreciated in the 13 boutique suites. One such boutique suite is the so-called ‘Palazzo della Gherardesca’ royal suite. Inside the room, frescoes sweep across ceilings, complementing exquisite ceramic works from celebrated 18th century artist Ignatius, dotted around the room. “Every corner of the hotel has traces of Florence, situated at the heart of historical sites. Here at the Four Seasons you’re at the cultural heart of this city”, General manager Patrizio Cipollini says. If you can tear yourself away from your suite, a 15 minutes walk from the hotel will guide you to the ancient River Domo and River Arno.
The Hotel Silken Puerta América – Madrid
The Hotel Silken Puerta América in Madrid, Spain is an innovative project that involved numerous global top artists, architects and designers, including internationally acclaimed architect Zaha Hadid and designer Christian Liaigre. The hotel presents something unseen before- each of the floors showcases a different concept in hotel rooms, individually designed by world-renowned names from different countries and backgrounds. In addition to the unique design, the hotel service also enjoys great popularity- guest rooms come equipped with functional and user-friendly luxury. Attracting a cultured crowd of guests from creative industries, the Hotel Silken Puerta América is arguably the thinking man’s luxury.
Wanderlust Hotel – Singapore
Owned by celebrity hotelier Loh Lik Peng, the Wanderlust Hotel in Singapore places its focus on providing guests with a ‘sweet escape’. Having transformed many amazing hotels, Loh Lik Peng’s designs have appeared in numerous design magazines and websites, including Shanghai’s famous Waterhouse. Located in Little India, the hotel is adapted from a former residence of Indian immigrants dating back to the 1920’s. Four unusual and distinct decorative styles run throughout the hotel- ‘Asylum’, ‘Phunk Studio’, ‘DP Architects’ and ‘Furious’ one level for each theme, with just twenty-nine boutique rooms in different styles such as industrial age, pop, and fantasy world. The hotel even reports guests requesting to change rooms each day to experience the full spectrum of design offered.
Olot, Les Cols Pavellones – Spain
In the Catalonia national park of Spain, there are a series of steel and glass Pavilions full of mystery. Consisting of just five individual rooms, this hotel takes minimalism to the extreme- a concept designed to maximize guests’ experience of the Catalonian sceneries outside- meaning no phones, no TV, no furniture, no bed, even. Supremely avant-garde, these fully transparent “crystal boxes” come equipped with minibars, a lounging mat, and the great Catalonian outdoors. Guests are encourages to laze on mats to see the naked natural soil under the glass floors and hear the sound of rolling hot water flowing from the Onsen bathtub- all contributing to a truly surreal experience. Next-door is a traditional 13th century farm that contains a two-star Michelin restaurant, which is by itself worth a trip to Olot. Additionally, the hotel provides free beds for children, and is happy to accommodate guests’ canine companions too. So if you want to out with your family, you’d better be quick to subscribe.
Propeller Island City Lodge – Berlin
Another of Europe’s more unusual hotel options, this is a hotel that will never be boring to stay at. Designed by German artist Lars Strocin, the whole hotel is something of a unique, permanent personal exhibition of the artist. With each of the thirty rooms designed by Strocin himself, every detailed component is handmade, combining a villa, hotel and art gallery in one. Guest rooms come with themes such as ‘Padded Cell’, and ‘Glass House’, and contain a generous dose of the contemporary brutalism characteristic of the best of German art.
Au Vieux Panier – Marseille
With just five rooms, this incredible hotel in the center of French city Marseille truly breaks the boundaries of a traditional night’s sleep. The product of a group of imaginative French designers and artists, the Au Vieux Panier is hugely popular with tourists and artists alike. TILT, the alter ego of creative graffiti amateur artist who hails from the south of France Toulouse, specially designed a guest room for this hotel. Named as the “Panic Room”, this unusual bedroom consists of two clear-cut parts; the first covered completely in colorful and messy graffiti, and the second half totally pure white. The remaining four rooms in the Au Vieux Panier include an animal themed suite designed by the acclaimed street artist Philippe Baudelocque. A hotel like no other in the world, the Au Vieux Panier provides guests with the chance to experience cutting-edge contemporary French culture first hand- the perfect anecdote to generic and ubiquitous chain hotels that seem to dominate the world nowadays.