The Country’s Best Hotel Art Installations to See Right Now
While on the road, why not rest your head in a place that offers a primo cultural bonus? Folks keen to unleash their inner Dali, Warhol, or Fairey should consider a visit to any of these hotels, whose rotating art collections are fresh, compelling, and, at times, controversial.
Max Grinnell is a contributor to Travel + Leisure.You can follow him on Twitter @theurbanologist.
The Alexander in Indianapolis
“Art to the fore” might be the informal motto at The Alexander. Moments of brilliance here include delights like a portrait of local hair empress Madam C. J. Walker made out of more than 3,400 combs, a galaxy of vinyl records, and an elaborate collection of text cut from stainless steel.
The Thompson Hotel in Chicago
When it opened in 2013, the Thompson Hotel immediately distinguished itself with its design by Tara Bernerd, as well as its unique art program. Along with the paintings in the lobby (look for a Liz Taylor with goldfish, among others) the hotel recently commissioned Chicago-based artists to paint murals in its interior stairway.
21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky
At the 21c Museum Hotel, you’ll find a contemporary art museum that’s open 24/7, 365 days a year. Working with a range of local and New York galleries, the managers, themselves art collectors, mounted exhibits celebrating the Louisville Slugger, Japanese “host clubs,” and notions of myth and metaphor in contemporary costume drama.
The Roger Smith Hotel in NYC
It’s impossible to escape the arts at the Roger Smith. Collections are everywhere: in its rotating lobby art series, its Window at 125 gallery, and, of course, its in-room TV Channel 22, which features video art (remember that inner Warhol you’re supposed to channel?). You might also consider booking Roger Smith’s “Blooming Young Artist Package,” which offers art-making experiences for the younger set.
The Verb Hotel in Boston
Located just a fly-ball from Fenway Park, the Verb has that midcentury manner down pat. The rooms feature silk-screen rock poster prints from celebrated Boston shows, along with period lighting elements, Fender amps, and more.
Langham Hotel in Chicago
Remaking a Ludwig Mies van der Rohe-designed office building into a luxe hotel was a challenge, but the Langham Chicago succeeds in no small part due to the art program in its lobby. There, see pieces by Claes Oldenberg, Anish Kapoor and Jaume Plensa. Take a seat in a nearby Barcelona chair (also by Mies van der Rohe) and soak it all in.
Hotel Des Arts in San Francisco
Since it opened, the Hotel des Arts has invited artists from all over the world to decorate its rooms. The materials include vinyl-mounted records and video installations. You might find luchadores on the walls of your room, or elaborate black-and-white line drawings.
The Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee
As a grande dame hotel, the Pfister keeps things au courant with its artist-in-residence program, which features a studio and special gallery nights wherein visitors can meet with the artist. And, yes, they also have the largest Victorian art collection in the world. Not too shabby, eh?
The Maxwell Hotel in Seattle
In a city that’s known for gray skies, the Maxwell Hotel offers art that is aggressively colorful. The lobby features a pineapple mosaic, a mural featuring the Space Needle surrounded by jazz musicians, and a bar that features decorative pineapples and a palette that’s pre-Castro Cuba meets Miami Vice.
The Motor Lodge in Prescott, Arizona
Built in 1910, the Motor Lodge received a reboot in 2008. Each room has a myriad of midcentury touches, including credenzas, burnt-umber couches, and lighting elements that would make Helen Gurley Brown—or, well, any Mad Men fan—proud.