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Spotlight: Top 10 Hotel Art Collections

Spotlight: Top 10 Hotel Art Collections


Want to start a debate? Tell a discerning traveler that such-and-such hotel has the greatest art collection of any hotel in the world. See what happens. More than likely, you'll have a lively discussion - or argument - on your hand.

I have my own Top 10 list. And I welcome debate.

#10: 21C Museum Hotel, Louisville, Kentucky, USA

Its name notwithstanding, the buildings in this hotel are actually from the 19th Century; they once served as warehouses for tobacco and bourbon. Inside, however, this 91-room hotel has a wonderful collection of contemporary art. And it's not only contemporary, but also multi-media - you may never look at simple, everyday materials the same way again.

#9: The Four Seasons Hotel, Florence, Italy

This hotel took more than seven years to build. Every time they started work, they unearthed a medieval fresco. And every time that happened, a city agency of some sort had to be consulted before construction could continue. Now, however, it's what's above ground that stands out, including 12 bas-reliefs of paintings by Bertoldo di Giovanni, Michelangelo's teacher.

#8: Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong

Ever see a piece of art that's 16 stories high? Well, at this hotel, you can. The atrium is dominated by the towering mural called "The Great Motherland of China," with 250 intricate silk panels. It took some 40 artists - and six months - to complete. Take the glass elevator to the top for a look at a truly magnificent piece of art... just one of many in this hotel.

#7: ITC Maurya Hotel, Delhi

The Maurya was designed with traditional Indian culture in mind, from top to bottom. Its wonderful collection of art reflects the second- and third-centuries B.C., a time of vast empires and riches and legends. The pieces were created by India's best artists, in a variety of media. And hotel staff will be glad to show them to you. 

#6: The Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park, London

If you can afford to stay in the Royal Suite, you can probably also afford to buy one or two of the Old Masters originals hanging in it...which are for sale. And if you can't afford it, you can still surround yourself with original works by the Old Masters elsewhere in the hotel.

#5: The James Hotel, Chicago, Illinois, USA

The James Chicago has an eclectic, ever-evolving collection of art, everywhere you look. The hotel often partners with local galleries and artists. Perhaps the most notable piece is by a local artist named Joel Ross, who has taken apart a real motel room from Texas, along with some classic old suitcases and transformed them into "Room 28."  

#4: Rodwell House, St. James, South Africa

St. James is a picturesque town just outside Capetown and Rodwell House, built by a gold-mine mogul, sits regally on a hill with a panoramic view of the ocean. This hotel is filled with works by South African artists who enable you to see deep into the sometimes tumultuous soul of this country and its people. If you come from outside South Africa, you may not know their names. But you'll never forget their work.

#3: Semiramis Hotel, Athens, Greece

Dakis Joannous, owner of the Semiramis, has one of the world's finest private collections of contemporary art and, happily, he's chosen to share it with the visitors to his hotel. In thousands-of-years-old Athens, this bright-pink, 51-room hotel stands out as a beacon of modernity and eclectic taste. In the Semiramis, art is all over the place...  and striking.

#2: Dolder Grand, Zurich, Switzerland

Everything about the Dolder Grand is artistic, including the architecture. The hotel was re-built in 2008 by the renowned London firm of Foster + Partners. Urs Ernst Schwarzenbach, the hotel's owner, has placed more than a hundred pieces of his private collection throughout, with works from artists such as Salvador Dali, Camille Pissarro, and Fernando Botero.

#1: The Broadmoor, Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA

I admit it - I love Western art. The Broadmoor has more of it than any hotel in America. In fact, it has more Western art than just about any museum in America, save for the American Museum of Western Art in nearby Denver. And there's a good reason for this - both are owned by the same man. This 744-room, full-service resort is set amidst 10,000-foot mountains. And it's filled with the works of the finest Western artists in history, including Frederic Remington, Charles Russell, Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Moran, and Alfred Jacob Miller. A simple walk through these oak-paneled hallways is akin to visiting a world-class museum.

Well, there you have it, folks. Let the debate begin.

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