Art hotels around the country are blurring the line between museums and lodging, making for one creative and memorable stay.
Art and travel
The Alexander Hotel
Curated by the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Alexander hotel’s exhibitions include 60 works in its public spaces plus installations in every guest room. Its 14 site-specific works are a major draw, especially the iridescent abstract sculpture on the ground floor called Standing Wave. Other eye-catching works include the installation by Paul Villinski of a flock of birds made from vinyl records and Sonya Clark’s monumental portrait of social activist and cosmetics entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker, which is constructed from 3,840 plastic combs. Don’t miss the series of colorful graffiti murals by Nick Walker in the parking garage.
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort
Nemacolin Woodlands Resort sits on 2,000 acres of woods in southwestern Pennsylvania. The sprawling development encompasses a number of lodging options, including the 124-room Chateau Lafayette. It’s also home to a $45 million art collection. You’ll find three onsite museums — the Woodlands Auto Toy Store with a 1913 Ford Model T, the Pride & Joy Airplane Hangar that boasts a Pitcairn once owned by Steve McQueen, and the Magical Fashion World of Shells featuring handcrafted canoes and shells from around the world. Other rare pieces include a section of the Berlin Wall and prints by artist and naturalist J.J. Audubon.
NU Hotel Brooklyn
New York City street art comes to life at NU Hotel Brooklyn, celebrating the borough’s old-school vibe and international roots. Inspired by an urban-style apartment, the hotel’s 93 loft-like rooms feature imaginative elements like cork floors, hammocks and chalkboards for scribbling down those genius ideas. Highlighted are several local artists, including Adam Suerte, a Brooklyn legend and proprietor of a neighborhood tattoo shop, who created a mural of the Manhattan Bridge, Brooklyn Bridge and the Williamsburg Savings Bank. Then there’s Steven Weinberg’s streetscape, complete with brownstones, cafes and the F train running beneath Brooklyn’s streets.
The Heathman Hotel
Located in the heart of Portland, Oregon’s cultural district, the Heathman Hotel’s four signature suites honor the city’s arts community, and the hotel donates 10 percent of room revenue to corresponding nonprofits. There’s the Literary Arts Suite, Oregon Symphony Suite, Fine Arts Suite curated by the nearby Elizabeth Leach Gallery and Portland Center Stage Suite. Each features engaging décor, including 18th-century costumes, original illustrations, a scribe desk with vintage typewriter, and fine art by regional and nationally acclaimed artists. The coolest touch? I’d say it’s the Center Stage Suite’s red glass trimming, which was used in the Gerding Theater’s original design.
21c Museum Hotel Bentonville
Just north of Bentonville, Arkansas’ town square is 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville, a boutique hotel where the focal point is a 12,000-square-foot museum, meeting and event space. Art is seamlessly integrated throughout the hotel, with opportunities to discover different pieces in the restaurant and bar, elevator lobbies and even the restrooms. More than 2,000 works are sprinkled throughout, and the hotel also hosts live events, film screenings and poetry readings. Keep an eye out for 21c’s cute and mischievous green penguins, sculptures you may find throwing back a drink at the bar or hanging out just outside your door.