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Meet the new breed of hotels making waves in the art world

The best exhibitions aren’t just confined to museums — they’re also pioneered by a new, design-conscious breed of hotels.

Published 12 Oct 2019, 07:00 BST
Artist Ivan Navarro is one of the artists joining Peninsula Hotels' roaming 'Art in Resonance' programme, ...
Artist Ivan Navarro is one of the artists joining Peninsula Hotels' roaming 'Art in Resonance' programme, showcasing international artists across their hotels.
Photograph by Ivan Navarro

Local paintings in the lobby? A suite themed after a much-loved master? These days, hoteliers need to do much more than this to call their venue an arts hotel. The most cultured tourist addresses now double as museums; often acting as and curators of contemporary art and incubators for upcoming artists, doing much to champion the local scene. So, look up before you bed down, you might be missing a masterpiece. Check out these five:

Las Vegas
The Cosmopolitan has always been a cradle of all things creative, but it’s now also home to six art vending machines, created by artist Clark Whittington. The kitschy Art-o-mat machines are repurposed cigarette vendors that distribute affordable pieces of art to the masses. 

In the creative St Paul's neighbourhood, the latest outpost in the Artist Residence family will house some 200-plus pieces when it opens this month in a former boot factory renovated into a 23-bedroom hotel. 

Opening in the Windy City in January 2020, 21c Museum Hotels is set to offer access to an in-house art collection dedicated solely to creations from the 21st century — and it’ll be free to the public. The hotel will promote local artists with rotating shows and site-specific installations woven into the fabric of the foyer, restaurant and guest rooms. 

Designed by British eco-artist Jason deCaires Taylor, the Coralarium — a coral regeneration project-cum-art space under the Fairmont Maldives Sirru Fen Fushi — has unveiled works designed to imitate coral colonies rising from 10 semi-submerged plinths. Created to act as an artificial reef, marine biologists — rather than curators — will be on hand for evening snorkelling tours of the gallery space. 

The Peninsula Hotels’ roaming ‘Art in Resonance’ programme has landed in the French capital, with new commissions from artists including Japanese-born, US-based artist Saya Woolfalk and French sculptor Elise Morin. The works will be on display at the Paris hotel until 15 November.

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Published in the November 2019 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)

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