How hoteliers are capitalising on local art


Hotels are using art to give guests a sense of place, add an extra splash of personality to their offering and give artists a platform to display their works. We look at how hoteliers are utilising the local art available to them on their doorstep and making the ventures a success.

Hotels have become art galleries in their own right, displaying collections that would be worthy of a place in any art institution. Team this with delighting the discerning customer who is used to luxury, and the bar for hotels has been raised once again.

The Beaumont took this trend one step further when former Turner Prize winner Sir Antony Gormley created an inhabitable sculpture for a bedroom at the new hotel that opened in 2014. Commissioned by the hotel, the artist, best known for his ‘Angel of the North’ piece in Gateshead, designed ‘Room’ as a result, which now has no shortage of guests willing to pay £2,500 to spend the night there.

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This bold statement piece reflects the trend among top hotels to fill their spaces with original art.

The trend for calling upon local artists to create something unique to adorn the walls of your hotel has been gaining momentum for a few years now, so much so that the investment some hoteliers are making into pictures, sculptures and paintings has certainly become a substantial one.

While sourcing art for a hotel has always commanded a budget, now more hoteliers are realising that the money spent could not only be used to buy in pieces that tell an interesting narrative about the property, but also to make them more memorable.

What used to be an exercise in bulk purchasing has now become a carefully-thought out process, with the market being extensively researched for unique, one-of-a-kind items that evoke a reaction in guests. Hoteliers are not afraid to take a risk either, making art really exciting and diverse in hotels right now.

Art was previously seen as a last-minute add-on when hotels were refurbished, but now many are coming to see that it’s often the art and artefacts that help to make the hotel what it is, and dictate the design for the rest of the space.

For boutiques, most want to establish a sense of place and locality through their art, often leaning on local artists to highlight this further. Staff are then briefed on the various pieces around the hotel, enabling them to talk freely and confidently to guests about the background behind each picture.

However, sourcing art and making reference to it should be done in the right way to echo your brand, building and location; art shouldn’t be used to attract attention, simply enhancing the guest experience.

Twr y Felin Hotel, owned by Keith Griffiths is Wales’ first contemporary arts hotel

Owner of the newly-opened boutique hotel Twr y Felin Hotel, Keith Griffiths is an architect and an art collector. Brought up in St Davids, he was inspired by the St Davids Cathedral from an early age, which taught him that architectural space could be moulded to influence the emotions.

He opened Twr y Felin, Wales’ first contemporary art hotel earlier this year. A fully serviced hotel, artists were commissioned to create pieces for both the bedrooms and public areas, taking inspiration from the local landscape.

He also owns Roch Castle and luxury holiday home Penrhiw Hotel, where he first commissioned artists to create works to go on display at the properties once they were restored. Stuart Burns was, at the time, part of the artist-in-residence programme at the nearby Oriel y Parc National Park Visitor and National Museum Wales Gallery, and after meeting Griffiths, he was commissioned to create works for Penrhiw.

Daniel and Amanda Wright, who own the Goat Street Gallery in St Davids were commissioned to create works for Roch Castle, based on its history and as a result, designed ceramic pots and tapestries for the space.

Griffiths says: “I have used art in all the hotels to embed the hotels in a unique space and time and to help grow St Davids into an important place of artistic value as is St Ives in Cornwall.”

 Tanya Kelly is owner / director at The Priory Inn, which collaborates with 8-10 local artists 

Tetbury in the Cotswolds is described by Tanya Kelly as a ‘very arty area’, hence why she works with 8-10 local artists who provide varying different works for the hotel. From watercolour, pen and ink, fine art photography, acrylics and oil paintings, the hotel embraces them all and is refreshed on a regular basis.

When Kelly started the business 12 years ago, the lack of budget for artwork resulted in some creative thinking that led to the venture.

As part of the collaboration, the hotel charges 10% commission; this covers costs and allows for a small margin that is then passed onto Tetbury Hospital.

New artists often enquire about opportunities, and will visit the hotel with the work for consideration. Kelly explains: “We have a great relationship with our artists which develops over time. I can only go on ‘feel’ as art means different things to different people. It’s certainly not a regular feature, but we once had a few foxes dressed in hunting gear – you can picture it… Well contrary to my personal tastes, they sold really well! Generally, a local theme is good – whether it is photography in Bath or Cotswolds landscapes.”

Art plays a central role at St James Hotel in Nottingham, as co-owner Richard Johal explains

St James Hotel in Nottingham’s city centre is home to 87 bedrooms, a bar, gym and a variety of function rooms, plus its very own in-house art gallery.

Art plays a huge part in the hotel; not only do hotelier brothers Richard and Harjeet Johal buy in local art to display, but they have also created an in-house exhibition, The Left Gallery, that regularly features work from artists across the world.

The art focus is a key element to the business model at St James Hotel. Firstly the hotel aims to be a special design-led property with the art acting to enhance the guest experience and secondly the Johals have a passion to promote local artists and wanted to give them a platform to cultivate their following.

Richard Johal says: “Artists generally contact us to ask if they can exhibit in The Left Gallery. We always try to feature as many as we can, but only one at a time so we give them the full attention and space they deserve.”

WIN! An exclusive art exhibition

Boutique Hotelier and Sky have partnered for an exclusive competition to give one hotelier a unique opportunity to have work from Sky Arts’ newly launched programme, Master of Photography, grace their walls in a two-week exhibition, giving their guests the chance to get up close to the extraordinary work from these brilliant photographers.

Sky will also host an opening night reception, inviting local media and industry professionals to experience a special preview of the photography.

Sky Arts has recently launched the ultimate search for Europe’s best photographer, open to both amateurs and professionals, with the series hosted by Emmy and Golden Globe Award-nominated actress Isabella Rossellini. Renowned photographers Rut Blees Luxemburg, Simon Frederick and Oliviero Toscani will work with the 12 finalists over eight weeks before selecting a single winner, who will receive €150,000 and their own exhibition. The programme includes a series of photographic challenges at locations across Europe designed to test the participants’ abilities across a range of styles and disciplines.

How to win

For the opportunity to win this unique prize, and for full terms and conditions, visit between 12pm on August 1, 2016 and 7pm on September 1, 2016.

Tags : hotelslocal art
Zoe Monk

The author Zoe Monk

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