Today, many upscale hotels today are boasting modern design and technology, but there are others that stand out by bringing art to the guest experience. Here are five hotels that are doing that:
ITC Maurya, New Delhi
This property, built in 1977, is inspired by the Grand Mauryan Empire that ruled India during the 2nd and 3rd centuries BC. In fact, Ashoka the Great, considered one of India’s greatest emperor, belonged to the Mauryan dynasty. Each floor level of the main hotel consists of remarkable artworks from contemporary Indian artists, all inspired by Ashoka’s philosophy of "oneness".
Size of exhibition: Over 100 pieces estimated to have a total value of 25 million rupees (US$459,000) at the last count two years ago.
Standout pieces: A. Ramachandran’s Ashoka After Kalinga bronze representation of Ashoka during a crucial turning point in his spiritual life, and paintings of the life and times of the Mauryan Dynasty on glass panels by the internationally acclaimed artist M.F Husain.
Accessibility: All the art pieces are in public spaces and both hotel guests and the general public can take a guided art tour around the hotel, which includes explanations of each piece. The tours can be arranged through the front desk.
Langham Place, Mongkok, Hong Kong
Staying in line with its trendy brand image, the Langham Place in Hong Kong consists of a wide range of contemporary Chinese art pieces designed to inspire and stimulate as they explore the different elements of human existence, from materialism to perception of beauty. In addition to these permanent pieces, the hotel hosts “art in residence” exhibitions throughout the year, which serves as a platform to introduce more artists. For example, last year the hotel hosted Sumakshi Singh’s intricate, Backstage: On Screen installation.
Size of exhibition: 1,500 pieces valued at approximately HK$20 million (US$2.5 million).
Standout pieces: Peng Di’s Makeup piece – a metal sculpture of a sultry woman in her underwear applying make-up - and Jiang Shuo’s Red Guards – Going Forward! Making Money! sculpture.
Accessibility: Podcast tours guide art lovers through 21 of the hotel’s top pieces and comes with a complimentary box-set of cards with images and captions of the works for guests to keep. The tours come in English, Cantonese, Mandarin and Japanese and can be obtained from the hotel’s gift store, LIFE!, which is located in the lobby.
Le Meridien, Taipei
This property consists of a vibrant artsy atmosphere within and without. Located in the premier Xinyi business district, the hotel is close to landmarks such as the Taipei 101, Taipei Fine Arts Museum and the National Dr.Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, making it ideal for art and culture aficionados. The hotel itself consists of a fascinating art collection following a “Light and Shadow” theme, with works by artists from around the world that play with lighting and patterns to create visual impacts. To further emphasise art, the Le Meridien Taipei allows guests staying at the hotel to use their keycards to access the Museum of Contemporary Art Taipei (MOCA Taipei).
Size of exhibition: Le Meridien Taipei has more than 700 pieces of art in total.
Standout pieces: Li Hui’s stainless steel Giraffe – Be My Guest sculpture of a giraffe lowering its head, a Swarovski crystal chandelier with LED lights and Fred Eerdekens’ installation that depicts a quotation from the Little Prince using copper wires.
Accessibility: The pieces are scattered across the property from the lobby to inside guest rooms.
The Opposite House, Beijing
This boutique property not only consists of very modern and unique architecture but also eye-catching contemporary Chinese art pieces to foster an overall creative ambience. The property houses a permanent art collection by Chinese artists as well as several rotating exhibitions to keep things fresh. Currently, the hotel is showcasing works by Gao Xiaowu in its atrium. The exhibition, running between now and March 30, consists of Gao’s Soft Violence series, including the Chromosome piece – 9-foot tall sculptures of newborn babies.
Size of exhibition: There are 20 pieces of permanent artwork valued at approximately US$319,000.
Standout pieces: Li Xiaofeng’s Beijing Memory pieces, which are two life-size sculptures of Chinese outfits made out of blue and white porcelain from the Qing and Ming dynasties, and Wang Jin’s Dream of China sculpture, a large Dragon Robe made out of PVC plastic with intricate embroidery made from fishing wires.
Accessibility: Since most of the pieces are located in the public areas, such as the lobby, atrium and bar, guests can view them easily in their own time.
The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore
This landmark property, located in Singapore’s vibrant Marina Bay district, has a wide-ranging collection of modern art described as "vibrant expressionism" by Elizabeth Weiner, the art curator for the hotel, because it consists of bright, colourful works ranging from sculptures to paintings.
Size of exhibition: There are more than 4,000 phenomenal pieces across the hotel that are valued at approximately SG$5 million (US$4 million).
Standout pieces: Frank Stella’s Cornucopia, a striking 2,800kg sculpture hanging from the roof of the hotel’s entrance, and Andy Warhol’s Flowers piece.
Accessibility: The artwork is located at different parts of the hotel and guests can take a self-guided 28-minute podcast tour of the pieces, which comes with a catalogue including biographies of the artists. Guests or art lovers that are not staying at the hotel can ask for the podcast (which is pre-downloaded on an iPod nano) at the concierge or download the podcast themselves from the hotel’s internet log in page. At present, the tour is only in English but the hotel plans to roll out a Mandarin version soon.
Click here to read an in-depth feature about other hotels that are also bring art to the guest experience in Business Traveller March 2012 issue.