The Latest Amenity at London's Poshest Hotels? Art
Several posh London properties offer dynamic arts programming for guests.
Back in 1901, Monet, was the inaugural artist-in-residence at the Savoy Hotel. Today, when scanning the walls of Claridge’s in Mayfair, you’ll find ribbons of brush strokes courtesy of David Downton, the hotel’s first-ever artist in residence. Meanwhile, the Corinthia Hotel is entering its third year of arts programming, which it kicked off in 2013 with the Look Left Look Right theatre company, where hotel guests (and ticket buyers) experienced an on-site theatre. Every year, the hotel works with a different group, and productions have been a sell-out. This year, there will be an immersive opera around the hotel.
There’s a natural symbiosis between London’s art scene and its hotels, and as guests look for more unusual offerings during their trips, the properties are responding by offering unique arts-related experiences for guests and locals alike.
Damien Barr, a journalist and Oscar Wilde of the 21st century, hosts a series of literary salons at the Mondrian Hotel on London’s Southbank throughout the year. More than 300 guests crammed into the hotel’s rooftop Rumpus room at this month’s event to hear readings by Jojo Moyes, John Lahr, and Caitlin Moran. On November 9, Turkish writer Elif Shafak, comedian and screenwriter Nick Frost, and American novelist and essayist Sloane Crosley share a bill.
The JW Marriot hosts several Literati events, complimentary for hotel guests, and $31 for everyone else. The ticket includes a welcome reception with champagne and canapés, along with a signed copy of the author of the evening’s book. Past readers have included Jackie Collins, Michael Dobbs, Kate Addie, and the Countess Carnarvon, a.k.a. the real lady of Downton Abbey, who lives at Highclere Castle, where the show is filmed.
Browns Hotel on Albemarle Street in Mayfair (pictured above) offers civilized and edifying art tours. It begins with tea in the hotel’s library before walking the neighbourhood. Mayfair has one of the highest concentrations of public and private galleries, and the tours are curated by a local insider. The list of participating galleries is long, and includes Daniel Crouch Rare Books, David Zwirner, Faggionato Fine Art, Fine Art Society, Pace Gallery and Victoria Miro. After, you’ll return to the hotel for a three-course meal at the delightful Hix restaurant (all for $93).
Nearby, guests of 45 Park Lane can take exhibition tours hosted by artists, painting lessons, get studio access, and attend monthly artist lunches hosted at CUT by Wolfgang Puck, the hotel’s steakhouse. Working with the cutting-edge tour company Alternative London, guests walk East London guided by local street artists to see the country’s most envelope-pushing art. When that’s all finished, we suggest popping back to 45 Park Lane for a Duke of Earl cocktail (Earl grey tea infused Tanqueray gin, lemon, cane sugar syrup) while admiring the work of German-born-artist Rotraut Klein-Moquay, which is currently on display inside.
Bridget Arsenault is the associate editor, print and digital at Vanity Fair UK. and the co-director of the Bright Young Things Film Club. She covers the U.K. beat for Travel + Leisure; follow her on Twitter at @bridget_ruth.