Want a side-helping of artwork with your next hotel stay? Have a look at our round-up of six of the best art resorts in the world, from fine art to photography and sculpture.
Hotels are becoming creative in their attempts to kick away upstart Airbnb competitions. Their huge lure now is connectivity into the art world, nevertheless a rarefied world that may seem daunting to non-insiders.
The form this connection carries varies, from introductions to key artists into a personal gallery tour or an exclusive look at exhibition installations outside of public opening hours with an art historian all to yourself.
As the Victory of The Cultivist — the 2,200 annually members-only international club for art aficionados launched in 2015 by ex-Sotheby’s stars Daisy Peat and Marlies Verhoeven Reijtenbagh — has shown, introductions to key art world figures and exhibitions carry considerable clout.
So here’s a look at the top 6:
1. Four Seasons George V, Paris
Traditionally Four Seasons’ most profitable resort, also famous for having cunningly walled up half its own wine cellar to guard its precious collection before the Nazis invaded Paris in 1940, this 1928 white stone Art Deco dream close to the Champs-Élysées seduces with a sumptuous bar, 17th-century tapestries and light grey Pierre Yves Rochon-decorated rooms of downy comfort. Art wise, the resort can pay private, after-hours entrance to the best museums for a private tour or special dinner where you get to dress up in your best outfit and women’s wedges, which will cost from about $7,000 in the Rodin, Jacquemart-André or Picasso Museum, or from $20,000 in the Louvre or Palace of Versailles.
Charmante idée, non? However, the really brilliantly sensible thing the Cinq concierges do would be to sell tickets through their custom built websites for immediate entrance to the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay which allow you to sail beyond the humongous, eternal queues. The charge: ticket price plus 50 percent. Meaning $36 for 2 regular $12 tickets in the d’Orsay and $51 in the Louvre, which comprises the Vermeer exhibition running to 22 May. Yes, of course you can book online with no excess charge, but that would require the Louvre’s erratic site to really work.
2. Mandarin Hotel, Hong Kong
Its White Cube outpost notwithstanding, the growing Hong Kong art scene can be tough to get a handle on given that, with limited opportunities for representation in established galleries like Spring and Galerie Perrotin, many regional artists exhibit in their own studios with low-key pop-ups. This is certainly a place where you enjoy a guiding hand. Hong Kong’s fifth Art Basel, in March, was the land’s largest so far, but as approximately half of the 242 galleries participating were from outside Asia, eager to draw themselves to the attention of all those super-rich local and mainland Chinese collectors — now the world’s most sought-after patrons — it wasn’t the display showcase to show off budding local artists as hoped. That’s where the ineffably suave concierges in the Mandarin step in. With eyes and ears attuned to up-and-coming in addition to established regional artists through the clued-up CdD guides that they use for hand-holding, their art tours perform wonders in showing you who is doing what.
When the temporary M+ Pavilion, devoted to China’s visual culture of the 20th and 21st century, eventually has its permanent home in 2019 from the West Kowloon Cultural District, courtesy of Herzog + de Meuron, it is going to be Hong Kong’s Tate Modern or MoMA. That means now is the time to scope out — and possibly buy — those regional celebrities whose job may stand alongside the 1,510 bits of modern Chinese art given by Uli Sigg, the Swiss art collector, who, at one time, was Swiss ambassador to Beijing, which will form the centre of the museum. The Mandarin tours cost from HKD2,000 an hour.
- The Peninsula, New York
It was The Peninsula — that strong slice of old-New York relaxation and grandeur, slap-bang in the centre of W55th and Fifth Avenue — which began the trend for five-star hotels to provide their guests insider art excursions. Supervised by the resort’s charm-on-a-stick Mr Fixit, chief concierge Frederick Bigler, their Academy programme celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. And the terrific big fabulous treat this provides is a one-off tour of an exhibition at MoMA — two blocks away — before or after regular opening hours. This is far more fun (and pricey, but hey) than even MoMA’s Quiet Morning openings on overall offer on the first Wednesday of the month, which for $15 gives you the run of the vacant galleries from 7.30am to 9am and even a guided meditation one of the Monets and Rothkos at 8.30am. With the Academy bargain, you have the whole of MoMA to yourself for one hour at either 9.30am or 5.30pm, with a PhD art historian to speak you around the display. Total heaven. You can even make a night of it by getting dressed up, taking those women’s pumps out of the suitcase and follow up your private tour with a lavish dinner.
Having those Glorious terrific galleries to yourself with only an expert at your side and no additional heads to peer over feels like a brand-new definition of luxury. Art historians who will be on this tour in the coming months are Robert Rauschenberg (21 May to 17 September), Frank Lloyd Wright (12 June to 1 October) and Louise Bourgeois (24 Sept to 28 Jan). Art tour, $650, for up to six people. You can book this experience on your phone with The Peninsula’s multi-screen web design that makes it easy to navigate using your handset.
- Brown’s, London
Start delving into London’s art scene and you run across all kinds of potential treats and gifts for special celebrations. This membership of the Royal Academy brings you unlimited entry plus pre-opening viewings of all exhibitions, with America following the Fall: paintings from the 1930s running to 4 June and a major Jasper Johns from 23 September to 10 December. And all for $97 yearly membership is a thing. Who knew, however, that by paying $230, the whole-group (normally charged for 10 to 15 people), might have a private tour — during regular opening hours — using an art historian at the National Gallery? Or a 90-minute tailor-made private tour of Tate Britain’s marvellous standing collection for only $210? Or an hour-long personal lecture about a recent Tate display for $200? A stupendously great idea for a gift, right? Tate Britain’s David Hockney exhibition runs to 29 May, and the upcoming major attraction is Rachel Whiteread, from 12 September to 4 February. If you are willing to give coastal interior design a miss and check into the traditional Brown’s hotel, you will surely have a great time.
Hotelwise, The Connaught is so involved in artwork they even put an artist’s easel with brushes and paints in some suites so that you can DIY, but actually the best purchase could be from Brown’s Hotel. Their routine Saturday morning art tours of Mayfair, headed by the entertaining gallery owner, curator and representative Maeve Doyle, followed by lunch at Hix in the resort, cost only a congratulate-yourself $65 each
- The Biltmore Hotel, Miami
Art Basel is the large deal in Miami Beach, from 7–10 December this year, running in conjunction with the town’s Art Week, and will observe 270-plus galleries exhibiting. The town’s Institute of Contemporary Art is scheduled to open its doors in its new home in December, also. You may think of beach coastal furniture when you think of Miami, but in fact the weathers at its best in winter, so don’t go till then. If you do, The Biltmore — the city’s most famous old hotel, the Jazz Age superstar made by the architects behind New York’s Grand Central Station — is the place to stay. Founded in Coral Gables in 1926, it was here that the first Tarzan, Johnny Weissmuller, was a swimming instructor in the pool (in 150ft by 225ft, still the largest on the east coast of the US) — till he went off to Hollywood, of course.
The Biltmore has left it until this year to launch its first curated Art Week concierge bundles. These provide access to the Art Basel vernissages, exhibitions, as well as the performances and parties occurring throughout the city during the week, all accompanied by art expert Judy Holm, veteran of the Venice Biennale — as they should given that the prices begin at $60,000 including a 5 night stay. As expected, the nights are extravagant and guests are welcomed to dress up, with ladies in their heels and men in their men’s dress shoes. Nevertheless, The Biltmore’s most profound art cure is its Everglades Backwater experience. Running during business hours January, and run by Dragonfly Expeditions, this takes you on a thigh-high wade through the Everglades, an adventure that culminates in a trip to the studio/gallery of 70-year-old Clyde Butcher, conservationist and chronicler of the region. Working with a large-format camera, Butcher is an enthralling photographer, the Ansel Adams of black and white nature photography in America today. The all-day tours cost from $648 each.
- Pikes Hotel, Ibiza
Want your arts resort with a side-helping of rock ‘n’ roll? Check in the Ibizan institution That’s Pikes Hotel. It’s come a long way since its 80s heyday of legendary parties and Club Tropicana vibes where ladies would dance the night away in rose gold heels. New co-owner Dawn Hindle is a trained architect and has injected her love of art and curiosities to the (slightly ramshackle) property, which the staff are renovating and redecorating room by room.
As well as permanent photography functions (many of which are available) in each room, featuring numerous previous guests, and an array of taxidermy, neon art and sculptures dotted haphazardly across the grounds, the resort is now hosting an exhibition by celebrity and fashion photographer Diana Gomez. Taking over the grounds, swimming pool and terraces of Pikes Hotel, FREE WOMEN is a Feminist-driven and auto-biographical show composed of life-size portraits and outdoor installations.