Art Radar compiles a list of seven art hotels to visit in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.
Art hotels are becoming increasingly popular worldwide, from New York and London to Dubai, Beijing and Tokyo. Art Radar finds out where art lovers can rest their heads in some of the bustling art capitals in Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.
Art has always been present in hotels everywhere in the world. From the United States to Europe, Asia and the Middle East, hotel lobbies and rooms rarely come without a painting or two, albeit usually disparagingly termed ‘hotel art’. But with the increasingly internationalised art scene and the expansion of art’s profit potential, hotels have an increasing interest in collecting and displaying original pieces of contemporary art by acclaimed artists.
Art hotels range from small boutique affairs where each room is decorated and designed by an artist, such as Mystic in Bangkok, to mammoth luxury premises with attached art museums, such as the Hotel Okura in Tokyo with its Okura Museum of Art. Other hotels feature their collection across their various floors and rooms, have themed rooms with artists’ installations like at Jiantai Yigong Beijing, or even come with art galleries and artist residencies.
Art Radar finds out about seven art hotels in the Asia-Pacific and Middle Eastern regions that are worth staying in for the contemporary art on display, the stylish decor and complete art experience they offer.
The Langham Place, Mongkok, Hong Kong
A five-star luxury hotel on 42 levels with 666 rooms and suites, Langham Place in Mongkok boasts a contemporary Chinese art collection with more than 1500 artworks displayed on all levels of the hotel. The collection is curated by art consultant and gallerist Angela Li, who is tasked with fulfilling Langham Place’s aim “to create a platform showcasing Chinese art.”
With names such as “The essence of life”, “Vibrant being” and “Humanity” among others, each floor of the hotel is designed to suit the mood of the guests as they move through the hotel. The artworks on show include pieces by artists such as Jiang Shuo, Wang Guangyi, Yin Hong and Wang Xinggang. The Ming Court on Level 6, themed “Purity”, features work by renowned ink master Wu Guanzhong. On Level 36 it’s possible to see work by one of China’s most lauded avant-garde artists, Yue Minjun. Guest Levels 37, “Fluidity”, and 39, “Society’s expectations”, display works by sculptors and Sichuan Fine Arts University Professors Long Taicheng and Peng Di. On Level 41 at the Chuan Spa themed “Nature”, local Hong Kong artist Alannala Lau’s work is on display.
The New Majestic, Singapore
The New Majestic hotel in Singapore has thirty rooms, each one decorated in an individual style in collaboration with different artists and designers. The hotel collaborated with Asian Art Options, an arts consultancy firm, and selected nine Singaporean artists to create and integrate an element of local art iton the hotel’s spaces.
Pop artist Justin Lee juxtaposes Asian and western motifs, such as in his Oriental Girls Go West in Room 201, exploring commentaries on women’s standing in society. Heleston Chew produced anamorphic messages that can be decoded only by viewing them from particular vantage points around the room. Safaruddin Abdul Hamid (aka Dyn) produced a mural depicting the façade of Hotel 1929 on the eight metres wall of the gym. Miguel Chew integrated laser cut figures in polished aluminium, depicting sensual and romantic silhouettes that reflect the plays of light and darkness of the room. Other artists featured are Lee Meiling, Tay Bee Aye, Kng Mian Tze and Sandra Lee.
The hotel also features five rooms personalised by top creative individuals from different disciplines, including fashion designer Wykidd Song, graphic designer Theseus Chan, film and theatre director Glen Goei and furniture designer Patrick Chia.
In the heart of Beijing’s 798 Art District, Grace Beijing is in a prime location for contemporary art. The hotel features 30 rooms in five categories, ranging from the smallest ‘Artist studios’ to the biggest ‘Grace Suite’, all uniquely designed and decorated in contemporary Chinese style.
Artworks are scattered around the property: in lobbies, restaurant and rooms and even in the courtyard in the form of graffiti. The surrealistic digitally altered photographs by contemporary Chinese artist Chi Peng are displayed in the Grace Suite. The hotel also offers an insiders guide in each room, highlighting the monthly must-see exhibitions in Beijing, and organises regular rotating exhibitions of contemporary art in the lobby.
Grace Beijing is a member of the award-winning Grace Hotels group, which owns premises in Mykonos and Santorini in Greece, St. Moritz in Switzerland, Rhode Island, Maine and Connecticut in the United States, Marrakech, Panama and Argentina. The Beijing hotel, once the independent boutique hotel Yi House, was acquired by the group, expanded, refurbished and reopened in 2011.
The Swatch Art Peace Hotel, Shanghai
The Swatch Art Peace Hotel, conceived by Swiss watchmakers Swatch Group as a focal point of the contemporary arts in China, opened in November 2011 in Shanghai, near the historic Bund on the Huangpu River. Swatch has been working closely with artists for more than thirty years, and the hotel holds an artist residency programme, through which an international committee selects and invites international artists to live and work in the eighteen workshop-apartments on the premises. More than one hundred artists from nearly thirty countries have lived and worked in the workshops and studios on the hotel’s second and third floors since the programme’s inception. It is possible to interact with the artists at the hotel, and events and collaborations among artists are regularly organised.
“Open studio” events encourage communication among artists, the management team, the local art community and the public. The diversity of disciplines and nationalities continues to grow and the “traces” left by artists include paintings, sculptures, installations, photographs, video and sound clips. Swatch Art Peace Hotel visitors, artists and guests may also enjoy on-site exhibitions and events in the 480-square-metre Exhibition Room on the first floor for art exhibitions, special presentations and thematic displays, and in The Gallery, a modern multi-purpose loft-style space on the fifth floor, for films, concerts and conferences, and cultural and commercial events.
The Palace Hotel, Tokyo
The Palace Hotel Tokyo sits on the same site as its predecessors Hotel Teito and Palace Hotel. The latter closed its doors in 2009 to be refurbished into the luxury hotel on site today. Located in the central Marunouchi business district, the hotel is adjacent to an area that symbolises the history of Japan, an environment in which tradition coexists with modernity.
The hotel’s brand concept is “harmony with nature”, a theme reflected in the various elements and spaces that comprise the hotel. Nature and art harmonise in a range of artworks within the hotel, incorporating motifs from the surrounding water and greenery.
The hotel offers a tour of its art collection that combines local and international art. In more than 720 artworks based on the concept of “The Palace Garden – Inheritance and Innovation,” traditional designs lie behind contemporary expression, and traditional techniques give life to contemporary themes.
In the lobby area, works by Takeharu Nakabayashi decorate the space with geometric and nature-inspired forms, such as those of Landscape of the Palace, a sculptural installation in gold leaf, iron and paint that separates the space of the lobby and can be viewed from both sides. The work is a composite of the various landscapes to be found in the vicinity of Palace Hotel Tokyo. Yuji Sakai’s abstract ink works echo the flow of water in a stream. Chinese artist Miao Tong’s nihonga style landscape painting depicts a utopian palace garden.
Many other artists from Japan are also featured throughout the hotel. Their artworks are categorised in different themes, such as Contemporary, Tradition and Innovation, and Elements. The collection can be viewed online here.
The Art Series Hotels, Melbourne
The Art Series Hotels are located in Australia’s major cultural and event hubs. Each of the three hotels is unique and takes inspiration for its design from one of Australia’s great artists. The Cullen Hotel, opened in 2009, is the first of the series and is located in Prahran, Melbourne. It takes inspiration from the ‘enfant terrible’ of the grunge art scene, Adam Cullen (1965-2012). His original artworks and prints are displayed throughout the hotel’s public spaces and penthouses. In addition, the hotel also features deluxe studio suites, the Street Art Suites, each decorated by a different street artist, including Australian Stormie Mills, Londoner D*Face, Parisian Blek le Rat and New Yorker Swoon.
The Olsen Hotel, opened in South Yarra in 2010, features 299 elegant five-star suites that are infused with the lyrical works of revered Australian landscape artist Dr John Olsen (b. 1928). Murals, sculptures and large prints adorn all the hallways and suites. The Penthouse is highlighted by photographs and original John Olsen artworks including the drawing Fruit of Life created by John Olsen during a dinner party with the owners. Olsen is regarded as one of Australia’s greatest living painters and won the Archibald Prize in 2005 for his portrait Self Portrait Janus Faced.
The Blackman Hotel opened in 2010 and features the works of one of Australia’s most celebrated artists, Charles Blackman (b. 1928). The artist is regarded as one of the most original and significant figurative painters in Australian art. He is represented in all state and most regional galleries and in many private collections around the world. The penthouses’s design is inspired by Blackman’s well-known Alice in Wonderland series from the 1950s.
XVA Art Hotel, Dubai
The XVA Hotel is located in a renovated traditional majilis-style building, with original architectural motifs, wind towers and three open courtyards. In the old Bastakiya quarter, close to the Dubai Museum and the souqs, the building is the former home of the Seddiqi family (Dubai’s Rolex dealers) revamped into a boutique hotel by Mona Hauser and her artist and designer friends.
Decorated in an Arabian minimalist style, the hotel is part of the XVA Gallery, one of the foremost contemporary art galleries in the city specialising in Arab art. The XVA Art Hotel also serves as an annex gallery for curated exhibitions and participates in the Sikka Art Fair. The courtyard café is the location where the city’s creative types, including artists, designers and filmmakers meet. Each of the 12 boutique suites and rooms is decorated and designed in a different style by local or regional artists and designers, including Zayan Ghandour, Numa, Nada Debs and Karim Rashid (Gaia&Gino). It might also be possible to see a glamorous party held by big fashion names such as Hermès, Louis Vuitton and Chanel, all previous partygoers at the hotel.
C. A. Xuan Mai Ardia
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