Time was - only a decade or two ago - that a hotel was just a place for the weary traveler to lay his/her head for the night. And many hotels looked pretty much the same. But no longer. Aesthetics, now, are a key part of any hotel's approach to attracting and keeping customers. As a result, these days, some hotels are becoming virtual art museums. In fact, some have art collections that are actually better than those found in some art museums. In these five hotels, your experience will be enhanced immeasurably by the works of art - and wonder - all around you. Here are my Top 5 "Artsy" hotels in America...
#5 - 21c MUSEUM HOTEL, LOUISVILLE, KENTUCKY - The eight properties - with two more coming soon - in the 21c hotel group refer to themselves as "museum hotels." And their tag line reads "Sleep at a contemporary art museum." Indeed, a walk through the Louisville hotel is exactly like a walk through a world-class art museum; your head will be turning constantly in the direction of stunning, colorful pieces that somehow fit beautifully into a hotel motif. In addition to permanent collections at this hotel, there are also curated rotating exhibitions, with experts - and, sometimes, the artists themselves - on hand to discuss these works. INI the case of the 21c, the phrase "museum hotel" are not exaggerated!
#4 - THE ART HOTEL, DENVER, COLORADO - This may be the most aptly-named hotel in America. There's literally art everywhere you look. Yes, there are very colorful, unusual paintings (many by well-known artists) and structures all over. And yes, there's a seven-foot-high metal/wire horse in the lobby. And, yes, there are beautiful rich-looking art books in every room. But, at this hotel, even the furniture and the accents are artistic. Every detail, from floor to ceiling, looks like it was put together by some very artistic, very creative design minds. Every elevator. Every sconce or unusual lighting arrangement. Every silk-flower bouquet. Every fixture, whether on the floor or the ceiling. The lines, colors, angles, and materials throughout this hotel are a joy to behold...and, because there are so many unusual or interesting ones, you'll be beholding new ones pretty much every time you leave your room (or go into it!). In addition the hotel sometimes has special exhibits. And if you've got a bunch of people with you, they can even arrange for special treats...such as local street/graffiti artists coming over and giving you lessons on the outdoor terrace.
#3 - THE INN AT 500 CAPITOL, BOISE, IDAHO - In this beautiful, funky, imaginative new hotel, you get two types of art for the price of one. You get the art works inside the hotel...and the snow-capped mountains out the windows, looking almost like paintings. Not only that, but at this hotel, you get the artworks before you even go inside! Local artist Ken McCall, with help from fellow artists Mark Baltes and Leslie Dixon, created 18'-tall copper-and-gold trees in front of the hotel. And the leaves on these trees - just like real ones - actually turn and glitter as the sun moves across Big Sky Country. The art doesn't stop at the front door, though. The public spaces and guest rooms at the Inn at 500 Capitol are also filled with one-of-a-kind pieces of art. Some of it is traditional Western. Some of it is modern. Some of it is futuristic. And some of it, as your eye follows the flow, pulls you in. But whatever the style, all of the art here is eye-catching.
#2 - THE BROADMOOR RESORT, COLORADO SPRINGS, COLORADO - The Broadmoor has been one of America's grandest resorts since it first opened its doors a hundred years ago this July. It has one of the most magnificent backdrops in America, if not the world - 14,110-foot Pike's Peak. And its magnificent dark-wood and brass-lined hallways are filled with many of the finest paintings of the Early American and Western masters, ranging from the early-1800's to the 1930's, as they documented on canvas the move westward across the frontier, and the majestic scenery along the way. Owner Philip Anschutz has what many consider the finest private collection of Western art in the world. And much of it is right here, in this stately, luxurious resort, including names such as Thomas Moran, Maxfield Parrish, Alfred Jacob Miller, Charles Deas, Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Remington, and Charles Russell.
And now, my choice for the "Artsiest" Hotel In America"...
#1 - NATIVO LODGE, ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO - The people in the 19 ancient pueblo settlements in New Mexico have created some wonderful artforms through the ages. And with that work, some wonderful artistic legacies for their people and their pueblo, along with stories passed down from generation to generation. But they most likely never pictured anything like the art on the walls of this stunning hotel. Yes, there's plenty of traditional art here - pottery, baskets, ceremonial garments, jewelry, etc. And some of the scenes painted on guest room walls are eternal and ethereal. But much of this art - all of which was created by Native Americans - is modern Native American, with angles and slants and distortions and images and abstracts that the elders probably never imagined. Much of it has been created by a new, young wave of Native American artists, who are not bound by the traditional methods of Native art-creation or story-telling. Every room here is like a living art museum. And all of this art, whether traditional or mold-breaking, is splashed with the most vibrant colors and textures you've ever seen.
As the number of "artsy" hotels in America continues to grow, we'd love to hear about some interesting ones you've found! Who knows...you might see them here one day!