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The Art of Travel

Forget free wi-fi. The hotel amenity of the moment is a world-class gallery.
Once upon a time, luxury hotels followed the resort code: Ensconce guests in a fancy bubble and engineer a total escape. Today that model has been turned on its head, with the most forward-thinking hoteliers working to engage their patrons in a new way. Rather than creating spaces that inspire sleep, they aim to inspire thought, and one way they achieve that is by amassing compelling in-house art collections. Paintings and sculptures in hotels are no longer about blending in with hallway décor or rendering rooms inoffensive, but about reaching out and grabbing—not to mention duly impressing—guests. Art is now one of the world’s greatest investment vehicles (and a sure sign of money to burn), but when a collection is well curated and displayed, it can transcend empty consumerism; it can move and provoke in ways that pan flute music in a spa simply cannot.

Here, a sampling of our favorite art-infused hotels.

NEW YORK CITY

Gramercy Park Hotel
It’s been almost a decade since architect John Pawson and artist Julian Schnabel made over the genteel Gramercy Park Hotel, adding light and bohemian-eclectic sex appeal through saturated color and antiques imported from markets around the world. The downtown mainstay—located across from the jewel of a private park on 21st Street—has historically attracted art and culture types since it was first erected in the 1920s, and developer Aby Rosen wanted to keep that link intact. An impassioned art collector himself, Rosen, along with Schnabel, has assembled a rotating group of pop and contemporary pieces with a strong connection to New York City, shown in the halls and common areas throughout the property: photos and silk screens by Andy Warhol, several collaborative canvases by Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat, oils by Enoc Perez, a sculpture by George Condo and stunning works by Richard Prince and David Salle.

 

Park Hyatt New York
Opened in 2014, the Park Hyatt New York occupies the first 25 floors of Pritzker Architecture Prize–winner Christian de Portzamparc’s gleaming skyscraper near Carnegie Hall. International firm Yabu Pushelberg designed the interiors for the large rooms (the smallest is just under 500 square feet), which feature floor-to-ceiling windows. But the sweeping views of the surrounding city aren’t the only ones of interest. Thanks to partnerships with the Museum of Modern Art and Sotheby’s, more than 350 highly varied works by such artists as Sol LeWitt, Richard Serra, Robert Longo, Elizabeth Peyton, Rosy Keyser, Christian Marclay and Ellsworth Kelly are scattered throughout common areas and guest rooms.
Park Hyatt New York
Two works from Robert Longo's 1979 series "Men in the Cities" adorn a wall in the lobby of the Park Hyatt New York.

ZURICH

The Dolder Grand
Located in the hills outside Zurich, The Dolder Grand is an elegant architectural hodgepodge: a curious combination of majestic 19th-century Alpine vernacular and ultra-modern streamlined wings by Norman Foster. On the inside, things are much more coherent. The Dolder Grand’s luxe décor serves as the perfect backdrop for an extensive assemblage of more than 120 pieces of art, showcased through a collaboration between the hotel and the renowned Galerie Gmurzynska. There are canvases and drawings by Andy Warhol, Sol LeWitt and Miquel Barceló. But the collection really excels in sculpture, with works by Keith Haring, Fernando Botero, Niki de Saint Phalle, Takashi Murakami, Joan Miró and Juan Muñoz.

PARIS

Le Royal Monceau
Le Royal Monceau may have a new look, but its close relationship with the art world goes back years. Right before Philippe Starck’s renovation began in 2008, Le Royal Monceau commissioned Parisian graffiti artist and nightlife impresario André Saraiva (known in the graffiti world by the tag Mr. A), and other international artists, to participate in a now-legendary demolition party, which included Kanye West, among others, lobbing a hammer. The hotel now features a stand-alone gallery, an art bookstore and an in-house collection with works by rising stars like Joana Vasconcelos. And don’t miss the blog by the hotel’s dedicated art concierge, Julie Eugène, Art for Breakfast, which offers a sharp and thorough look at exhibitions and events around Paris.
Le Royal Monceau
Art pieces in the public spaces at Le Royal Monceau were all commissioned specially for the hotel and include works by Lucien Hervé, Guy Le Querrec and more.

LONDON

St. James’s Hotel and Club
When Pakistani billionaire Mian Muhammad Mansha and his family bought St. James's Hotel and Club in 2010, he reportedly paid one of the highest-ever recorded per-room prices for a hotel. He also spared no expense on what to put inside the place: Murano chandeliers and black lacquered furniture are offset by the vast Rosenstein Collection—a treasure trove of cubist, expressionist and postimpressionist portraits and sculpture. Taken together, it all ensures that this posh former men’s club looks just as sumptuous today as it did in its past life.
St. James’s Hotel and Club
Art from the vast Rosenstein Collection—which includes more than 400 cubist, expressionist and postimpressionist works—inside the restaurant at the St. James’s Hotel and Club.
  • COURTESY OF GRAMERCY PARK HOTEL
  • COURTESY OF PARK HYATT NEW YORK
  • COURTESY OF LE ROYAL MONCEAU
  • COURTESY OF ST. JAMES' HOTEL & CLUB