For admirers of art on holiday, it isn’t enough simply to stroll a far-flung beach or climb a colossal mountain. The ideal break needs to provide plenty of delicious cultural nourishment, and your chosen destination needs to look great too. Art connoisseurs were aware of this need long before the dawn of social media and the over-shared and far-too-filtered times we live in now. A holiday maker in search of hotels for art lovers, brightest colours, smartest innovations and most exquisite brush-strokes knows aesthetics need to start with the buzz of the alarm clock and not a second later.
Though queuing at the Guggenheim or traipsing around the Louvre are part and parcel of any ‘artophile’ itinerary, it’s now possible for the cultural odyssey to begin at home or – more precisely – in the hotel lobby. Picking accommodation laden with portraits and sculpture brings a new realm of beauty to your escape (and will – of course – get your Twitter and Instagram accounts buzzing too.)
Here’s our pick of the planet’s most stunning art hotels. The good news is they are also located in some of the most richly-cultural locations across the globe, so when you do venture outside, there’ll be more Art with a capital A than you can point your camera at.
The Merrion, Dublin
Let’s start with something classic, shall we? Head to Ireland’s charming capital, surrounded by magnificent landscapes and bursting with the work of celebrated painters like John Lavery and William John Leech. You can explore the Irish National Gallery in Dublin’s city centre, or the IMMA (Irish Museum of Modern Art) for a taste of something fresher.
In terms of where to lay your head, the five-star Merrion is a no-brainer. Ranked by Expedia as one of the most picture-perfect art hotels in the world, its plush decor and old school grandeur, paired with a fine collection of artwork from some of Ireland’s most prolific creators both past and present, trounce the competition in taste terms. With period furniture, the majestic interior design takes you back to a fancier time in Ireland’s history, while the artwork hanging around this establishment mixes old and new. Try the Art Afternoon Tea where the pastries are inspired by paintings from the hotel’s vast collection. Delectable.
For something a little edgier, you could do much worse than eclectic Amsterdam, where the vibrant red light district sees sex shops, coffee bars and art galleries thriving side by side. The Dutch capital is so laid back it’s practically horizontal, meaning you’ll drift beside the canals from exhibition to installation entirely care free.
For creature comforts and experimental art all under one roof, Amsterdam’s art’otel could be just what you’re looking for. In the stark white entrance space, your receptionist greets you from behind a shiny red sculpture of a head (where her desk should be). The pendulous light fittings and gleaming black lamp-sculpture (why decide?) set the tone for this one-of-a-kind place to stay. Thoroughly modern furnishings and colour themes (think charcoal grey with touches of canary yellow, black and white tiled restaurant flooring and chunky plastic chandeliers) mean you’ll want to give every curated shelf and feature wall a good long look at.
Kimpton Hotel Eventi, New York
For photogenic bliss, surely New York must top the list? With iconic skylines and it’s sprawling Central Park, you’ll be in no shortage of artsy snaps to impress your friends back home. The city is also a culture vulture’s paradise, with world-famous artists calling its streets their home. New York is a man-made muse for hopeful creatives, and the Metropolitan and Whitney Museums are just two big fish in a tidal wave of independent galleries and intimate exhibitions.
Choose the Hotel Kimpton Eventi for a finely mixed cocktail of eccentricity and luxury. From vast, heavenly beds and magnificent views to a cage full of ceramic hands in the bathroom, the Hotel Kimpton Eventi lets your body relax and your imagination run riot. The hotel is home to an impressive collection of art from classic to contemporary, and the knowledgeable staff take care to inform you on the coolest creative spaces this melting pot city has to offer.
The First Roma, Rome
The official home of all things Rome-antic, Italy’s capital has been the birthplace of innumerable creative projects from the musical to the architectural and plenty in between. The First Roma Hotel delivers contemporary Italian art on all four walls, a brilliant contrast to the crumbling ruins and cherub-splashed ceilings you’ll be experiencing outside this beautiful space. There are paintings and tapestries, sculpture and sketches here by the new wave of Italy’s creatives, proving the country’s cultural offerings are as wondrous today as they’ve ever been.
Rome famously wasn’t built in a day, and in truth you’d need more than a week to explore all the art this vibrant city has to offer. There are hot tubs on the terraces here, and visiting artists give regular talks and workshops, meaning you’ll have to strike a balance between indulgence and education, but there have to be harder decisions to make, right?
Kenya’s capital is an unforgettable place to explore, since the carnival of wildlife you’ll find here has doubtlessly influenced much of the city’s artists. Modern painters and sculptors make political statements too, and Nairobi’s art scene leaves no source of inspiration unexplored.
Teamed with sumptuous bedrooms and a stuff-your-face menu of culinary delights, the Sankara’s ever changing art collection makes this hotel a cut above the average. Guests here are the epitome of glamour, and with a sizzling barbeque and the finest booze flowing, you’ll holiday in maximum style. Venture outside to meet Nairobi’s protected rhino population, its prowling cheetahs and long-lashed giraffes too.
The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas
When in search of the artsier things in life, we rarely pick Vegas as a frontrunner. Bright lights? Sure. Big money? Absolutely. A feather-boa clad drag queen belting out Barbra Streisand classics to the rhythm of the roulette wheel? Wouldn’t have it any other way. But it turns out this sparkling Nevada city also has bags of style, design and colour for your delectation.
The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas has an eyebrow-raising collection of art (from the traditional to the futuristic) with contemporary and emerging artists displaying paintings, sculpture and video installations throughout the hotel. Rock and roll is built into the walls here, with a long lineup of live music from bands like Alt-J and Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds. There are even six Art-o-Mat machines dotted around this opulent space, which are actually recycled cigarette machines dispensing original artwork.
Hotel Eclat, Beijing
Escape into pure fantasy at the Hotel Eclat in Beijing. This five star boutique hotel brings you asian eccentricity at its very finest. Each room is entirely unique, with interior design taken to new levels of magical. Think floral bouquets, glossy balloons and bars that glow with intergalactic colour (not to mention a piece of art or two on the wall). With one hundred rooms in this storeys-high hotel, found in a shiny shopping centre in downtown Beijing, the Hotel Eclat’s additional perk is its eco promise: to prioritise sustainability and bring luxury at no cost to the environment.
Bohem Art Hotel, Budapest
Hungary’s capital mixes tradition and history with here-and-now hip pretty effortlessly. With Roman ruins and gothic cathedrals, picture-perfect squares and brunch spots designed at the height of cool, your smartphone storage will burst at the seams. For an eyeful of treats, Budapest offers great value with a long list of must-see galleries including the Knoll Galeria – which gives a taste of the brilliant madness in Hungarian contemporary art, and the INDA gallery which opened in 2006 and sells a range of art from textiles to photography.
Huge paintings adorn every bar and bedroom wall at the Bohem Art Hotel, providing countless cool backdrops to pose against if you’re so inclined. And since each room is filled with different pieces of contemporary Hungarian architecture, you can choose a room to suit your mood!
XVA Art Hotel, Dubai
The Middle East is truly home to some of the most dazzling examples of design, both in decorative and architectural terms. Think geometric tiles, embellished tapestries, and carpets so spectacular you’re tempted to tiptoe. The XVA Art Hotel in Dubai is relatively small, with fourteen unique bedrooms designed in the best of taste. Arabic artwork both traditional and modern hangs on the walls of this tranquil spot, and the hotel store means you can choose souvenirs far lovelier than a last-minute airport keyring. If you can tear yourself from the maxed out relaxation of your surroundings, Dubai has cool art to explore, at venues like the Cuadro Gallery and the Meem Gallery which showcases brand new artists and keeps its finger firmly on the pulse.