Five Hotels Which Double up as a Museum
Art has finally become firmly established in the hotel world. Guests are no longer taken in by promises of sky high service levels or the number of stars over the door. Today’s guests are much more discerning, seeking new, more intellectual experiences. Read on to find out more about some of those hotels which have managed to use works of art to bring inspiration and that special something to a stay in their property.
MONA Pavilions, Hobart, Tasmania
Australian David Walsh made millions as a professional gambler and then invested part of his fortune in the creation of the MONA Museum of Old and New Art in Hobart, Tasmania. The museum hosts both a private museum, the largest in the southern hemisphere, and a luxury hotel.
The interior of the hotel Mona Pavilions reflects both the spirit and style of the museum itself: pastels and black and white shades dominate, whilst paintings and furniture designed by the museum’s Australian resident artists feature prominently in the overall design and layout. In fact, each room bears the name of one of the designers of the hotel itself…but the hotel’s connection with contemporary art does not end there.
The museum is built into a rockface and several of its floors are located underground.
With its fantastic design and vast collection, MONA is one of Hobart’s major tourist attractions. In 2013 Lonely Planet included the city of Hobart in the top ten must see places on the planet, largely thanks to the museum being located here.
Hotel guests are offered a free private tour of the MONA Museum. The permanent exhibition includes works by British artists Damien Hirst (also exhibited in the Tate Gallery, London) and Chris Ofili (creator of the famous “Blessed Virgin Mary”, on display in the MONA) plus Australian abstractionist Sydney Nolan.
MONA Pavilions A double room costs from US$505 per night.
The Thief, Oslo
The hotel “Thief” owes its name to its location on the island of thieves, “Tjuvholmen”, site of an 18th century prison where convicted prisoners were hanged. Happily, this is when the hotel’s criminal record ends once and for all.
But the character of this place remains akin to that of a real thief – daring and elusive! This is because the owners of the hotel have been bold enough to place paintings and installations from the collection of the nearby Astrup Fearnely Museum of Contemporary Art in the rooms and lobby of the hotel.
Some little known facts about their rooms: each boasts a king size bed, built-in sound system, air conditioning and balconies overlooking the fjords, the island canals and the museum itself. If you have mislaid or forgotten anything important such as headphones, socks or your shirt, everything is to hand in the room’s mini-shop – and excellent quality too. On top of this, each room has its own coffee machine, mini-bar, 24-hour room service and daily change of bed linen.
The Thief. A double room costs from US$249 per night.
Gladstone Hotel, Toronto
37 designer rooms and more than 70 art exhibitions per year, 3 art galleries and a ballroom – more than enough reason for art lovers to stay in this historic hotel at least once in a lifetime.
Originally, the hotel was for overnight travellers on the central Canadian Railway and so was built right in front of the railway station. From the very beginning the hotel was a family business, and so it remains now.
So why is this hotel so special? Perhaps thanks to its historic façade — the hotel opened its doors in 1889 year and has never closed since – combined with its more contemporary design features. But no — nor is it about the rooms equipped with the latest technology (although this is a great feature), but it is down to the regular exhibitions of contemporary art which take place in the public areas of the hotel : musical performances, presentations by young photographers, artists, workshops and literary evenings.
Gladstone Hotel. A double room costs from US$242 per night.
Grand Hotel Via Veneto, Rome
The name of the Grand Hotel Via Veneto speaks volumes – the street is the epicentre of all the architectural masterpieces of the Eternal City. Its fame as a great and majestic hotel is down not only to its marble staircases, crystal ceilings, Murano glass chandeliers and handmade furniture but in the spacious lobby of this grand hotel you will encounter works by Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali.
From the via Sicilia you can peer into the Magnolia restaurant. The love of art has heavily influenced this part of the hotel. All dishes on the menu created by Michelin star chef Franco Madame are served in the form of “paintings”.
Grand Hotel Via Veneto. A double room costs from US$262 per night.
Hotel Lungarno, Florence
Unlike the Via Veneto hotel in Rome, the Hotel Lungarno in Florence displays works by well-known 20th century artists both in its public spaces but and in the guest rooms themselves, including works by Pablo Picasso, Jose Bueno, Jean Cocteau and another half dozen Italian masters.
The restaurant Borgo San Jacopo displays rare archival photographic images related to the fashion industry of the 1950s. Images of Audrey Hepburn, Brigitte Bardot and Grace Kelly – those cult figures of the twentieth century, who so often visited Florence.
Hotel Lungarno is the first and most prominent member of the “Hotel” family of Salvatore Ferragamo and was fully renovated in 2017. Now the interior of the hotel resembles a cruise ship floating down the Arno River from the Ponte Vecchio, the legendary symbol of Florence.
Hotel Lungarno. A double room costs from US$729 per night.