For art enthusiasts, a visit to one of the world’s great art museums — be it the Louvre in Paris or MoMA in New York City — can be the focal point of a cultural getaway. But one needn't venture into the hallowed halls of a museum to be visually wowed.
Another option: stay at hotel with its own in-house, museum-quality art collection.
It’s a growing trend that has reached many corners of the globe, from Beijing to Cape Town. You’ll find hotels with stellar private collections in cities with established reputations in the art world, such as Paris, Rome and New York. Hotels in smaller communities are getting in on the act too, with stimulating collections.
Some hotels offer tours of the art under the guidance of a curator, as well as experiences such as hands-on painting classes with the artist-in-residence and self-guided tours with the help of an iPad. Other properties let the artwork unfold in a more casual, self-directed manner.
At these dazzling hotels, feast your eyes on pop-art photos, classic marble sculptures and surrealist paintings by Picasso, all while you check-in at reception, sip an evening cocktail at the bar or relax by the pool.
Hotel Éclat Beijing
Hotel Éclat is a luxury Beijing design hotel that pays tribute to art with a collection of fine works in its guest rooms and public areas. It boasts more than 100 pieces, including original sculptures and paintings from international heavyweights such as the Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dalí and the American pop artist Andy Warhol.
Art by homegrown artists figures prominently in the collection. Noteworthy are the starkly beautiful mixed-media works by Beijing-based Fan Xiaoyan, who expresses her views on contemporary urban life using harsh stainless steel elements. Sculptor Liu Ruowang borrows traditional technique from the Qin and Han Dynasty using lacquer in primary colors to symbolize a connection to the past while embracing modernity.
Grand Wailea, Maui
On the Hawaiian island of Maui’s southwest shores sits the Grand Wailea. The Waldorf Astoria resort is nestled in 40 acres of lush tropical gardens, an oasis of flora and fauna.
The Grand Wailea’s collection of over 80 paintings, prints and sculptures is the largest art collection of any resort in the state. Masters are well represented, so expect to see numerous colored lithographs by Spanish surrealists Pablo Picasso and Juan Miro. George Braque and Marc Chagall’s works are bright additions, and there’s a rich collection of bronze, glass and ceramic sculptures as well.
Don’t miss the resort’s art collection tour, given twice each week on Tuesdays and Fridays. Local artists in residence additionally welcome questions and encourage art-oriented conversations. The weekly outdoor painting class and beginning watercolor painting class are led by the artist in residence, so it’s an opportunity for interested guests to get first-hand tips from a working professional.
Rome Cavalieri, Italy
The Eternal City is timeless in its beauty. Sit on the Spanish Steps, throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain and stick your hand in the Mouth of Truth and you’ll see that Rome itself is a work of art. After you’ve marveled at its open-air treasures, retire to the Rome Cavalieri, a Waldorf Astoria resort. It is home to a blue-chip private art collection, featuring over 1,000 works of sculptures, tapestries and paintings.
The collection’s most important paintings are three large canvases by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo representing Greek myths. Additional gems include the “Triumph of Mars,” an early 18th century tapestry rich in Flemish detail. The regal, refined and realistic white marble statue of Minos, the King of Crete, carved by Cesare Zocchi in the late 19th century, is a showstopper. Romantics can marvel over the two entwined lovers in “The Kiss,” a monochromatic sculpture of great detail.
The Dolder Grand, Zurich
In Zurich, The Dolder Grand presents a luxurious overnight experience for the discerning traveler. This fairytale castle sits majestically on a hill, overlooking the lake, very near the city center yet in a position of peace and tranquility. The rooms and service are the definition of Swiss hospitality. It is home to a Michelin-starred restaurant, so fine dining is a possibility.
The hotel’s art collection includes over 100 works by impressive names such as Camille Pissarro and Salvador Dali. At the reception, Andy Warhol’s “Big Retrospective Painting” adds immediate panache. A voluminous sculpture by Fernando Botero, “Woman with Fruit,” sits near the swimming pool while Henry Moore’s “Three-piece Reclining Figure” livens up the manicured grounds.
Take a self-guided tour with the Dolder’s art iPad, available to all guests. It offers information on the artwork as well as tidbits on the artists who created them.
Gramercy Park Hotel, New York City
The Gramercy Park Hotel is a New York City landmark that packs a visual punch with its contemporary art collection. The works of American masters including Keith Haring and Andy Warhol are prominent. David LaChappelle’s celebrity-studded photographs add a dash of pop culture. British artist Damien Hirst’s bold and colorful works provide international flair. And Annika Newell’s daring art dazzles.
Artist Julian Schnabel re-imagined the hotel in 2006 and his dynamic touch is everywhere you turn. Much of the statement furniture is handcrafted and custom-designed. Rare French antiques, Moroccan tiles and Italian fireplaces marry seamlessly to create a brilliant mish-mash of unforgettable styles.
Guests of the hotel have the added bonus of entering exclusive Gramercy Park, a tree-studded private oasis in the heart of the city that is accessible only to those lucky few who hold a key.
The Bristol, Panama City
Panama City is fast becoming a stop on the seasoned art lover’s map. Of course, visitors will still want to see those big cruise ships shimmy through the Panama Canal, but those with an interest in the visual arts clear customs and head straight to the galleries to see what the hottest up-and-coming Latin American visionaries are producing.
The Bristol Panama is the city’s top hotel. It’s a sophisticated spot in the heart of the financial district with beautiful rooms and fine dining. The rooftop spa offers relaxing services and a bird’s-eye view of the city from its 25th-floor location.
The Bristol’s private art collection includes the works of Panamanian and other Latin American artists like Octavio Arosemena, Olga Sinclair, Fernando de Szyszlo, Perez Celiz, Tuvo Toral and Gustavo Lopez Armentia. The art is on display throughout the hotel and is prominently featured in the restaurant and lobby.
The Silo, Cape Town, South Africa
The Silo is a striking new 28-room luxury hotel located in a repurposed grain silo in the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town. It’s a daring mix of historic infrastructure and whimsical modern design that mingle with ease.
The property sits atop the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA), the first major museum in Africa dedicated to contemporary art. And it houses its own collection of exclusively African art, meticulously selected by the owner, Liz Biden, an avid art enthusiast and the interior designer of the hotel. The Silo Hotel features some of Africa’s most talented, emerging and eminent contemporary artists from Kenya, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia and other African countries.
In addition, The Vault, located in the hotel’s basement, serves as a private gallery exhibiting up-and-coming African artists on rotation biannually.
Hilton Anatole, Dallas
If you thought Texas was all Sunbelt sprawl, big hair and cowboy boots, think again. Oil has lubricated the flow of money in this state and these deep pockets are at the foundation of its vast private art holdings and excellent museums. For art enthusiasts, a visit to big Texas cities such as Houston and Dallas can be a culture getaway of the finest sort.
At the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, an extensive art and antiques collection may be viewed in the public areas. The holdings include two 12-foot segments of the Berlin Wall and a large collection of Wedgwood porcelain. In the atrium, visitors will find the kinetic sculpture “Nebula” by Reuben Margolin. It’s an avant-garde, large-scale work meshing movement, light and science. Take the time to soak it in.
The hotel’s self-guided “Top Art Treasures” tour examines dozens of the collection’s works while the “Art Scavenger Hunt” draws parallels between art and business.
La Posada de Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe’s wealth of galleries and top-notch museums have been a magnet for art appreciators and artists for decades. Like Georgia O’Keefe, they are attracted to the trifecta of magical light, turquoise sky and stark landscape.
For art lovers, there’s no better place to stay than La Posada de Santa Fe. The hotel is set on six landscaped acres in the center of town. Cozy adobe-style casitas with beehive fireplaces and Southwestern accents add notes of authenticity.
The hotel’s deep connection to the arts was forged many decades ago, when the property was an artist’s colony. Today, the hotel’s collection of predominantly Southwestern art is all for sale at the artist’s studio price.
In addition to the robust collection, the hotel has an in-house art curator, an artist-in-residence and a weekly art talk each Friday.
The Willard Hotel, Washington D.C.
There are few hotels in America with a more storied history than the iconic Willard Hotel, an InterContinental property in Washington D.C.
It opened its doors in 1818 and has since played host to important political figures including numerous U.S. Presidents. Located just steps from The White House, it retains traditional design elements but blends them with modern comforts, setting the stage for a luxurious experience. Gracious traditions such as afternoon tea with live harp music and a bar that’s been attracting politicos since Abe Lincoln’s day, are just a few of its assets.
Fitting for such a storied property, a curated collection of historic paintings can be found here. Many are by American painter John Gable. Works include a portrait of Abraham Lincoln with his sons Tad and Willie, who stayed at The Willard prior to his inauguration. Frequent Willard guest Ulysses S. Grant is depicted on horseback viewing the Great Sphinx in Egypt. Statesman and social reformer Frederick Douglass is captured in a reflective mood while writing at his desk.
Two Japanese paintings celebrate the cultural exchange that took place between the United States and Japan in 1912 with Tokyo’s gift of their cherry trees to Washington. They also pay homage to the hotel's history with Japan, having hosted the first Japanese Delegation to the United States in 1860.
Hamilton Princess, Bermuda
Bermuda’s pink sand beaches and crystal-clear water are this gorgeous Atlantic island’s natural calling card. To get up-close with man-made beauty, reserve a room at The Fairmont Hamilton Princess, Bermuda’s grande dame hotel. This impressive building goes by the moniker the “Pink Palace,” but just one look at the extensive art collection and you may start calling it the “Art Palace.”
It’s a visual banquet with works by Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol, Ai Weiwei, Damien Hirst and Banksy. The walls are awash with large works by Robert Rauschenberg and David Hockney.
For an in-depth look at the collection, take the guided tour offered each Saturday morning at 10 a.m. After you’ve soaked it in, take time to explore the town of Hamilton’s blossoming gallery scene before you hop on a moped and get acquainted with the island’s beaches.
Ocean House, Watch Hill, Rhode Island
Perched high on the bluffs, Ocean House overlooks a pristine sandy stretch of beach with views of the Atlantic, Montauk and Block Island’s bluffs. For travelers who enjoy the ocean, it’s like winning the lottery.
The hotel’s personalized service, well-appointed guest rooms and boat-to-table cuisine epitomize seaside luxury.
Art is a pivotal part of the guest experience. The hotel’s common areas feature a unique permanent art collection of nearly 250 works spanning from the 19th century through the 1990s. The Ludwig Bemelmans series of drawings, “Goodbye to the Ritz,” as well as the original illustrations from his “Madeline” children’s book series featuring the beloved French schoolgirl, are highlights.
The onsite curator is available to lead guests through the collection. For those who feel inspired, private watercolor lessons can be arranged.
The Merrion, Dublin
Explore the arty side of Dublin when you stay at the Merrion hotel. More than 90 works come together to form the hotel’s art collection, considered to be one of the largest and most significant private collections of 19th and 20th century art in Ireland. Major Irish artists are displayed here, including the pioneer abstract painter Mainie Jellet. Artists Jack B. Yeats, William Scott and Martin Mooney are also represented.
The hotel recently launched the Merrion Art tour, an in-depth audio guide to 20 paintings in the property’s collection.
For an edible treat, check out the Merrion’s afternoon “Art Tea,” where guests can feast on the art as they are served delectable miniature sweet creations inspired by the works of J.B Yeats, William Scott, Louis Le Brocquy and others.
Hotel Banke, Paris
Paris is a city of grand hotels, but the Hotel Banke in the refined Opera neighborhood is a particularly striking property. Previously a bank, it has preserved the integrity of its original architecture, including authentic Haussmann-style detail, yet doesn’t skimp on chic 21st century luxuries.
The hotel’s art collection is rich with priceless ethnic jewelry from around the world, including Egypt and sub-Saharan Africa. Rare Pre-Columbian and Roman pieces are plentiful.
Sculptures and additional artwork from India, Tibet, Papua New Guinea and Africa are present. The art is dispersed throughout every floor of the hotel, including unlikely nooks and crannies. Keep your eyes open and you’ll be in for a rare treat.