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Thanks to Melbourne-based artist, Matthew Bird, we can now rethink the image we have in our heads as we slide our key-card into a new hotel-room's door. He's created an art installation piece at the city's Hilton on the Park called "Hotel Otherworldly" that reworks an existing hotel room into a fabulous piece of art.
Housed in a fairly non-descript, brown brick building with no balconies, or character for that matter, this artistic hotel room is tucked away amongst business travelers and tourists unknown they might be sleeping next to a piece of art. A design that is as loud as a tornado, maintains the wallflower persona by being purely art.
One of the typical Hilton king guest suites has been transformed into a space where everything installed offers a regional reference to Australia, from flora and fauna to history and culture. A gold slap in the face for the region's gold rush days, art featuring crocodiles and royal blue to signify the history as a British colony all play a significant role in creating not only an over-the-top piece of art, but a reflection of the local culture.
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On the same trip that took us to Costa Rica's sexiest new sustainable hotel back in October, we ended up acquiring a nasty bout of food poisoning (no, not from said sexy hotel, mind you!) a couple days before our flight home. When we stumbled upon San Jose's Corteza Amarilla Art Lodge & Spa, we knew we'd found the perfect spot to recoup. Sure, maybe it was all the antibiotics and electrolytes the local farmacia prescribed. But seriously, one night in this place and it was a miracle. We were cured!
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The city's first self check-in hotel and serves up some modern and contemporary design by featuring local artists' works. We're not talking about a few pieces of art on the lobby or in the rooms, more like using the room as the entire canvas. Every year, 12 of the 46 rooms are white-washed for 12 new artists to go and throw a splash of color in the room by painting the primary wall.
Currently, the rooms are pretty basic and on an economy scale. Although they are light on the amenities and design, come April all the rooms should be completed by a local artist. The final goal is to have all rooms painted in a different theme. Since the bookings are done online or on the lobby kiosk, guests that want a bit more paint will need to call the hotel group to check availability.
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Fresh off last week's ribbon cutting, we buzzed by Cincinnati's new 21c Museum Hotel on its first Saturday in business for a quick tour. Our visit was so fresh, in fact, the paint literally hadn't even dried yet (we saw a guy running around spot-touching the walls).
When we arrived at 5 o'clock the hotel was booked solid and curious passerby were parading in, some having just caught "The Nutcracker" matinee at the performing arts theater across the street. Or checked out the latest exhibits at next door's sprawling Contemporary Arts Center (designed by Zaha Hadid). Or just pounded few brewskies at Toby Keith's bar around the corner.
In other words, the location's choice and the masses welcome! 24/7, in fact. The 10-floor, 156-room property, just like its Louisville sibling, doubles as a contemporary art gallery whose exhibition spaces are free for anyone to peruse, any day, at any time.
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Walking into the XVA Art Hotel, guests are hit with a refreshing change of scenery. A green neon light shaped like a fruit fly hangs over an armchair illustrated with a vintage movie still from the 1960s. Not exactly the kind of "furniture" you'd normally expect from a hotel in Dubai.
Giant crystal chandeliers, an army of see-through elevators, 5-ton boats hanging from the ceiling—yes, that's all standard fare in the City of Gold. But actual, imaginative, fun-to-look-at art? It's as if we'd stepped into another world.
...but it is art.
That piece, "Companion (Passing Through)" by KAWS, may be long gone, but the art series it began remains. This summer, The Standard is hosting another large-scale sculpture in the plaza, though this one will do without a head, thank you very much.
"Big Kastenmann" by Austrian artist Erwin Wurm is now on display and free to see all the way through November 2. This ensures that the Germany-forged, 18' tall, cast aluminum piece (whose title translates to "big box man") will be on display through fall's NY Fashion Week and the parties that typically overtake the hotel.
[Photo: The Standard]
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What did TripAdvisor rate "Trendiest Hotel of 2011?" This one: the Hotel New Republic in Singapore's Chinatown. Don't let that color your judgment however, since our recent stay proved that "trendy" here doesn't mean it's overcrowded, packed with scensters or cheap furniture to look "cool." Instead, the New Republic is a quiet 30-room design-focused hotel that has expertly renovated a historic Chinatown shophouse into a place we sincerely wish we had booked for more than one night.
To be completely honest, of all the hotels we've experienced in Singapore, the New Majestic is the first one we'd return to on our next trip. It is ideal for travelers who seek out unique spaces that reflect the spirit of the destination (ah hem, not a big chain hotel) and for those who desire to be outside of the business district, in the heart of culture. And maybe those who want a funky pool too.
Rooms at the New Majestic begin around $200 per night, which we paid. There really aren't any bad rooms, but we'd try for the second floor where each room has either a balcony or a patio, some of those patios with outdoor soaking bathtubs. It's details like thisand there are many of themthat give you a sense that the New Majestic is having fun...fun with design, fun with being in Chinatown and fun with having you there, doing things like taking an al fresco midnight bath by the light of a lantern.
Not that there's ever a shortage of things to look at in Panama, but at the new Tantalo Hotel in the city's historic district, guests will certainly have plenty to feast their senses on. Built inside an abandoned 1970s apartment building, the hotel features a two-story-high green wall filled with native flora, 13 rooms designed by different local artists, and the Encima Rooftop, which hosts a cocktail bar, live music, and yoga during the day.
The hotel is actually named after a Greek mythological character who, despite always being surrounded by the best food and wine, can never manage to eat or drink any of it. But don't worry, this place isn't about to let anyone starve. And we mean that in more than just the traditional sense—with so much cool local art strewn about the rooms, no guests will be lacking in inspiration.
And based on some images from the kitchen, they won't be suffering through bad meals either...
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Art aficionados staying at London's historic Savoy hotel have been experiencing a short lived treat this week: Monet's "Waterloo Bridge," sketched from Room 618, was recently returned to the Savoy over 100 years after it was first drawn. The room offers prime panoramic views of the Thames River, and Monet's creative interpretation of the scene has been on display at The Savoy Museum since December 13th.
Over in Melbourne, a trio of hotels known as the Art Series Hotels (The Blackman, The Olsen and The Cullen) are running a rather bizarre contest that rewards the burgling abilities of its guests. Which is probably something The Carlyle or The Ritz-Carlton wouldn't consider in a million years.
Hidden somewhere inside one of the buildings is an authentic Banksy painting titled "No Ball Games" (above). The guest who manages to find it, grab it, and of course, not get caught, gets to go home with the $15,000 prize.
The most important part? You gotta be cool. Among the contest's rules: each participant must "be a polite, respectful and sophisticated art crook."
Now that Wal-Mart heiress, Alice Walton, has opened the Crystal Bridges Museum of Modern Art (it was her millions and her incredible art collection that got the museum off the ground), cultured visitors to the museum in Bentonville, Ark. are in need of an equally cultured place to stay.
The hotel will be located in the city's downtown arts corridor but Bentonville is a small town so the Crystal Bridges museum will still be walkable. The four-story contemporary style building will have 103 rooms, including suites, a fitness center and a sustainable restaurant. In fact, the whole building will be built and operated using green practices and sustainable materials. And of course, there will be art. Lots of it.
So, you've got the W South Beach and Warhol at the InterContinental in your Art Basel itinerary. What's next? Right this way, for some more hotel-hopping highlights during Miami's big, bombastic art fair-party...
Lords South Beach: 'Gay central headquarters for all the fabulous Basel boys and girls,' says a rep. We love that this bright spot on the beach never takes itself too seriously. Their Basel fun kicks off next Tuesday with a private party featuring Amanda Lepore in the penthouse. Wednesday is the Gayletter.com party and Thursday there'll be music by Jake Shears from Scissor Sisters for a poolside all-nighter. Sunday? That's Detox (or 'cocktails to retox'), baby.
UPDATE: The Gayletter.com party will happen on Friday, December 2. Check out the Facebook page for more details.