The Art Hotel Concept Catches on as a Bridge from Bob Ross to Established Galleries

OZ Senior Designer of Hospitality, Laura Hilpipre is leading the team in designing to the emerging trend in the hospitality space where hotels are eschewing the generic in favor of concept-driven design and the accommodations themselves share top billing with the hotel’s art collection.  These so-called “art hotels” deliver the experience that today’s guests crave in much the same way open concept kitchens brought people into the heart of restaurants.

“Guests no longer want just a great hotel; they want a story and a reason why they should stay there,” explains Hilpipre. “By becoming more cultured and curated in its environment, these art hotels are creating original experiences that guests can enjoy and share.”

“Art” hotels are more than just placing art on a wall. What we are seeing now goes above and beyond. From rotating exhibitions, to private individuals personal collections, to artist in-residence programs, these new lines of hotels are creating custom, one-of-a-kind spaces worldwide. “Art has become the decision maker and hotels are designing spaces around it in ways we  haven’t seen before,” states Hilpipre. 

Hilpipre has highlighted key hotels that truly showcase how designers, artists and hoteliers can collaborate to create spaces that are cultured, custom and curated. 21c Museum Hotels, founded by contemporary art collectors Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, offer rotating exhibitions and commissioned installations that are unique to each city and community the hotel is located in. The Bursa Hotel in Kiev treats the hotel’s public spaces as an independent, nonprofit gallery. That same gallery has launched an annual international artistic residence for artists within the hotel. The historic Inn at Death Valley, owned by Phil Anschutz, houses his personal collection of Western Art. Finally, the Swatch Art Peace Hotel in Shanghai offers a residency program for artists where guests can stay in rooms in which art is created live by individual artists or as part of joint projects.

We are also seeing exciting partnerships between hotels and local arts organizations that benefit both. The Conrad in New York for example has partnered with the Public Art Fund, a New York City-based arts organization that works with contemporary artists in the city to present their work. To date, more than 2,000 works of art have welcomed guests throughout the hotel’s public spaces and guest rooms. This partnership also reinforces the hotel’s prime location in Battery City Park with its 15 permanent public art installations.

The hotel has long been a place of respite for travelers as well as a community meeting space. With the addition of curated art in designed spaces, hotels are becoming attractions showcasing what makes cities and communities unique.

“Staying on top of emerging trends, such as art hotels, is important for us as designers as well as for the partnerships we cultivate with our clients,” added Hilpipre. “To create something truly unique and set in place a new standard for design, all parties need to fully buy in and be passionate about it. This is how we create spaces that are authentic to local markets . It is not enough to stay current; we need always to be thinking about the future and what sets the property apart from others. Art is just one exciting aspect of that.”