Hotels for art aficionados

SHERYL NANCE-NASH | 1/21/2021, midnight
Picasso said that art washes away the soul of the dust of everyday life—so does travel. That truth hasn’t gone ...
The eye-catching Warrior Guardians mural on the outside of the Zena Hotel in Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of the Zena Hotel

Picasso said that art washes away the soul of the dust of everyday life—so does travel. That truth hasn’t gone unnoticed by hotels. In fact, many are mini museums showcasing masterpieces worthy of the hallowed halls of celebrated art institutions.

Whether you’re a die-hard art afficionado or not, you’ll likely enjoy the art extravaganza at these hotels.

Hotel Zena, Washington, D.C.

The recently opened Hotel Zena is a trip down a cultural lane, interactive, where every architectural line, material and art installation salutes female empowerment. You get it right away. There’s a seven-story tall Warrior Guardians mural on the hotel’s exterior. The hotel is also home to more than 60 pieces of work, including paintings, photographs, sculptures and more, featuring a portrait of Shirley Chisholm and a mural of the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg constructed entirely of over 20,000 hand painted tampons.

The Alexander, Indianapolis, Indiana

Talk about bragging rights. The Alexander is the only hotel in North America whose art program was curated by an accredited museum of art, Newfields, formally known as the Indianapolis Museum of Art. The art is purposeful, creatively telling Indy’s history. For example, there’s a portrait-sculpture of Madame CJ Walker, who was the first female self-made millionaire, made of 3,800 broken combs, a tribute to her hair product factory founded in Indianapolis in the 1900’s. There are 40 works of large-scale art in public spaces and 14 other works commissioned for the hotel.

The Glass Light Hotel & Gallery, Norfolk, Virginia

The latest addition to Norfolk’s hotel scene is in the historic district and a stone’s throw away from the Elizabeth River. The boutique hotel features glass art in guest rooms and public spaces by renowned artists such as Dale Chihuly, Peter Bremers and others. Come March, the hotel will up the ante with the unveiling of its gallery of glass art. It will help earn Norfolk kudos for having the largest collection of glass art in the world. Elsewhere in Norfolk, it’s plentiful at the Chrysler Museum of art, the Perry Glass Studio, Old Dominion University’s Barry Art Museum and the Hermitage Museum & Gardens. The hotel is a must for glass lovers.

Hotel B, Lima, Peru

This former seaside retreat for a wealthy family built in 1912 is a historic Belle Epoque style mansion. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in the Latin American art scene, check in. There are over 300 unique pieces of art. Every wall highlights original works by famous Latin American artists, from surrealism paintings to contemporary sculptures. Each of the 17 guestrooms feels like an elegant art gallery. Feed your art fetish further at nearby galleries, historic mansions, museums and public murals. This neighborhood, the Barranco, is a mecca for art.

Hotel Born, Denver, Colorado

The original art collection includes nearly 700 works from 32 local artists. Much of the art decks out public spaces and corridors, although each guest room has its own piece, too. You’ll get a feel for the Denver story through pieces such as a photo series that shows what the area looked like in the 1990s, as well as a massive installation in the porte cochere of the hotel that repeats the words “HERE” and “THERE,” a thought-provoking piece based on a poem by W.B. Yeats and more.

Ellerman House, Cape Town, South Africa

The Ellerman House is home to one of South Africa’s most impressive private collections of South African art. There are more than 1,000 masters and contemporary works of art through the Ellerman House and the Ellerman House Contemporary gallery. The hotel showcases Black pioneering artists such as Gerard Sekoto, Lucas Sithole, Ephraim Ngatane and George Pemba, who began a process of cultural integration of the country’s communities of color into a unified South African art. In the Ellerman House Contemporary Gallery, an eclectic, outspoken and energetic generation of current Black artists, such as Phillemon Hlugwani and Louis Maqhubela, are pushing the boundaries of the ordinary in order to create work that explores relevant issues in post-modern South African society. Ellerman House also hosts an annual art auction event to benefit the Click Foundation, which focuses on addressing the South African literacy crisis through a multi-year online English literacy program in under-privileged primary schools.

Angad Arts Hotel, St. Louis, Missouri

The Angad Hotel is the only place where guests can select rooms by the emotions of color—green for rejuvenation, yellow for happiness, red for passion, and blue for tranquility. What also makes the Angad unique? There’s the playroom, a room with musical instruments and board games, and the Stay Colorful mural, where you can join in online by sharing words, photographs and drawings.

St. Regis Amman, Amman, Jordan

You know with the St. Regis you’re getting luxury. Well, with its first property in the Kingdom of Jordan, you’re going to also get art. Set your eyes on the 754 pieces that celebrate Bedouin Jordanian culture. The work is hyper local, featuring only artists from Jordan and the Levant region.

Conrad New York Downtown, New York, N.Y.

New York City is known for its plethora of art. The Conrad keeps that tradition going. There are more than 2,000 pieces of contemporary artwork throughout the hotel. You’ll find artwork by post-World War II masters as well as contemporary artists. The showstoppers include the over-the-top two-tiered sculpture, Veil by Monica Ponce de Leon, made with 77 tons of aluminum and 16 miles of Vectran cable. You’ll be wowed too by the works of others like Sol LeWitt and Frank Stella.