Something to Declare: There's an art to creating an inspiring place to stay

 

Dew-kissed rose petals: every time I see a close-up photo of them in a hotel, a part of me dies.

 

It's not that I expect a Titian or an Emin in my boutique bunk-ups, but is it too much to hope for eye candy born from a little imagination? The vast Cy Twombly that occupies the lobby of Manhattan's Gramercy Park Hotel might not be up your street, but you can't deny the arresting red strokes have more vim than a run-of-the-mill Hilton reception. Tattooed pigs and an excrement-generator might be too much (among the former exhibits of Tasmania's Mona Pavilions – part of the Museum of Old and New Art) but at least you'll have grist to your postcard/Twitter mill.

With the Frieze Art Fair straying into New York next week, let's salute those savvy style dens that have a curator on their roll call. Nick Jones of the Soho House group wants his spaces to reflect the creativity of their members. Each of his properties, from LA to Berlin (and soon to incorporate Mumbai and Istanbul), has its own aesthetic, laced with locally resonant artworks chosen by Francesca Gavin, who asserts that the most effective way to create an identity is through art.

Louisa St Pierre, artists' agent and editor of Spread ArtCulture, ascribes winning formulas to having a curator who is erudite not only in art but also in popular culture, branding, and the experiential. "There needs to be an eclectic array of pieces that chimes with different guests, and works as a whole." For this, see the Standard and the Ace hotels in the US.

Nailing both style and substance, for me, is New York's Crosby Street Hotel. Kit Kemp is the creative half of the husband-and-wife team behind the pretty and witty Firmdale group, for which Crosby Street was its first foray out of London. Their colourful collection injected new life even into one of the world's most sophisticated and saturated scenes, thanks to a specially commissioned 10ft head by Jaume Plensa, Justine Smith's cartoon-mâché dogs, and Peter Clark's collage pooches.

Other hotels boost their credentials by flaunting them in their title: Australia's Art Series hotels are three Melbournian stays themed on Adam Cullen, John Olsen and Charles Blackman. A cute stunt was their Banksy competition: they planted a "graffito" by the artist, valued at $15,000, in one of their hotels and invited guests to find it, steal it and, if uncaught, keep it. (Maura Tuohy was the winning tea-leaf.)

Still, is a hotel's art collection enough alone to lure you to check in? Debbie Lawson's carpeted "Persian Moose" – at the tad-institutional Town Hall Hotel in Bethnal Green – endeared it to me. And the Damien Hirsts at 45 Park Lane give these glossy Dorchester digs cred.

Yet, when it comes to the visuals, less can be more. Ilse Crawford's simple but inspired reworking of The Olde Bell in Hurley, Berkshire, dispenses with framed frippery in favour of artisanal touches at the 16th-century inn. Here, art is not particularly relevant other than sketches by a local historian and photographs of the life if the local community. "The key is to do it well," says Crawford. And I'm fairly sure that means no Audrey Hepburn canvases from Ikea.

Juliet Kinsman is the editor-in-chief of Mr & Mrs Smith hotel guides ( mrandmrssmith.com)

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A still from a scene cut from The Interview showing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's death.
tech
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
News
newsAstonishing moment a kangaroo takes down a drone
Life and Style
Duchess of Cambridge standswith officials outside of the former wartime spy centre in Bletchley Park
tech
News
people
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Investigo: Finance Analyst

    £240 - £275 per day: Investigo: Support the global business through in-depth a...

    Ashdown Group: Data Manager - £Market Rate

    Negotiable: Ashdown Group: Data Manager - MySQL, Shell Scripts, Java, VB Scrip...

    Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - Bedfordshire/Cambs border - £32k

    £27000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Application Support Analyst - near S...

    Recruitment Genius: Class 1 HGV Driver

    £23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful group of compan...

    Day In a Page

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
    The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

    The 12 ways of Christmas

    We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
    Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

    The male exhibits strange behaviour

    A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
    Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

    Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

    Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

    The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

    A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

    The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'