Hotels have long housed art collections, and now many are opening their own gallery spaces alongside art-focused programmes to offer guests unique cultural experiences. In his latest column for LUX, Abercrombie & Kent’s Founder Geoffrey Kent handpicks his favourite art hotels across the globe
Ellerman House, Cape Town, South Africa
Art lovers will delight in staying at this landmark hotel on Cape Town’s coast. Within the elegant Edwardian mansion of Ellerman House, close to 1,000 works of art reflect the changes in South Africa’s social and geographical landscape since the 1930s. Artists in the collection include John Meyer, Erik Laubscher, Jan Volschenk, Cathcart William Methven, and Pieter Wenning to name but a few. Guests can take a self-guided art tour with an electronic tablet providing insight into each piece. If you prefer, the in-house guide is on hand to take you around the extensive collection and beyond – guests can request guided excursions to the city’s local galleries, enjoying behind-the-scenes access and unmatched insight.
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The Silo, Cape Town, South Africa
A disused grain silo may seem an unlikely candidate for a museum and an art hotel. Yet, this imposing building on Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront has been transformed in recent years into a bastion for the African arts. The lower portion of the building is now my friend Jochen Zeitz’s eponymous Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. It’s home to the continent’s most extensive collection of contemporary African art. I’m proud to be one of its founding members and to support its primary aim of encouraging intercultural understanding. It’s a fantastic collection in an extraordinary building. Above, the museum is the beautiful Silo hotel in which I stayed for a few days before departing for the South Pole on one of my Inspiring Expeditions. The six storeys of luxury accommodation are brimming with curated artwork. The Silo’s owner, Liz Biden of The Royal Portfolio, has used the space to display her collection of African pieces. There are works by upcoming artists as well as more established names, such as Nandipha Mntambo, Cyrus Kabiru, and Mohau Modisakeng. The hotel even features its boutique gallery The Vault.
Hotel B, Lima, Peru
For those of us who travel often, firsts are increasingly hard to come by, yet Hotel B is that rarest of things. Lima’s first – and only – art hotel is aptly situated in the city’s most bohemian district amid galleries and fashion boutiques. The building itself is brimming with character, converted as it is from a 1920s colonial mansion. Stay in this restored ‘grand dame’ to admire its private collection of more than 200 artworks, proudly displayed across the landings. Hotel B’s close relationship with nearby Lucia de la Puente Gallery allows guests to request private viewings easily; the gallery offers a fantastic insight into the world of contemporary Peruvian art.
Villa la Coste, Provence, France
The pastoral landscape of Provence is impossible to upstage, so the owners of Villa La Coste have sought instead to adorn it with dazzling flourishes of creativity. Throughout the biodynamic vineyard of Château La Coste and art hotel, sculptures are tucked amid verdant woodland, hills, and lawns – including works by acclaimed artists Ai Weiwei and Tracey Emin. You can enjoy a two-hour private art and architecture walk with the curator, learning all about the eclectic collection while taking in the beautiful Provençal countryside. Also, the hotel is home to its very own arts centre and hosts temporary exhibitions throughout the year. Stay here, and you’ll never be short of art to admire (nor home-grown wine to sip as you do).
MONA, Tasmania, Australia
Set on the banks of the River Derwent, the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) is Australia’s largest privately owned gallery and museum. It was masterminded by gambler and mathematician David Walsh and exhibits his diverse taste in art – from Ancient Egyptian relics to quirky dioramas. Whilst the museum isn’t strictly a hotel, visitors have the opportunity to stay in one of eight contemporary pavilions, each with its own unique character. As well as access to an enclosed lap pool, sauna, and gym, you’ll have a museum chock-full of eclectic and eccentric artwork right on your doorstep. Enjoy unfettered access to MONA’s permanent collection, and utilise its ‘O’ device during self-guided wanders to learn more about the art.
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