Color Your World: Our Top Five Art Hotels

There’s something to be said about surrounding yourself with great works of art. Take advantage of the fact that more and more hotels understand this, and are eschewing the generic sunset watercolor that’s long been a hotel staple, for more refined pieces. Here are the top five hotels who take art seriously. 

If you dream about Renaissance elegance: The Rome Cavalieri, owned by Waldof Astoria, sits perched over the hills of Rome, and while it plays up the palatial atmostphere, it’s the $700 million dollar art collection that will truly have you feeling royal. Works from the old masters abound, from the lobby to the spa. But things get more modern with Andy Warhol originals adorning some of  the rooms.

If you wish you could dive into a David Hockney: Popular with both Los Angeles natives and those looking for a quick SoCal weekend escape, Shutters on the Beach has a lot to recommend: the prime Santa Monica real estate has easy access to the beach and the pier, as well as an award-winning restaurant serving fresh California cuisine. But it’s the all-American art collection, including luminaries like Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, and Frank Gehry, that really gives the property a sense of style, as well as a sense of place.

If you’re sad you missed out on the Chelsea Hotel’s glory days: The New York art scene has always been transient in nature, with talent coming to feed off the city’s creativity. So it makes sense to capture that spirit in hotel form. Ian Schrager’s Gramercy Park Hotel was designed by artist Julian Schnabel (himself a fixture on the downtown art scene) and is adorned with pieces from provocateurs like Damien Hirst, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and Richard Prince, as well as serving as a clubhouse for the new class of creative types and those who love them.

If you wish you could do contemporary art like a Chinese mogul: Design in Hong Kong is an integral part of the city’s fabric, from the attention paid to feng shui in the business district, to the museums and public art that have grown along with the city’s presence on the international art circuit. Hotels have followed suit, creating art and design-focused hotels from the small (like the boutique Upper House, centered around Hiroshiwata Sawada’s atrium piece, “Rise”) to the Langham Palace Mongkok, a massive 42-floor tower housing more than 1,500 pieces of contemporary art—there’s a free iPod tour to help you work your way through the collection as you move about the hotel.

If you’d rather step inside the artist’s studio: The James Chicago has fostered local artistic talent since it opened about a year ago, with works like the wall installation by Demarcus Purham in the lobby, and the installation “Room 28” by Joel Ross in the permanent collection. They’ve also been collaborating with the Monique Meloche Gallery to find work to rotate through the hotel’s other public spaces. Most recently, that was done through an artist-in-residence program, where five young artists competed against each other to come up with a work for the hotel’s collection. Winner Kristina Estell took the mandate to find inspiration in the hotel literally, sealing leaves from the hotel’s shrubbery in tape, and incorporating them into a work between two panes of glass.

Boutique Hotels Focus on the Business Traveler

When Starwood launched the W Hotel group in 1998 in New York City, it tipped off a trend in business travel that fundamentally changed the industry. No longer would we be content with soulless beige rooms, bland breakfast buffets, and generic hotel art. If we’re going to spend weeks of our lives on the road, we want to stay somewhere that feels like home — or preferably, better than home. Now that W is the corporate behemoth, smaller groups and individual properties have emerged to take up the mantle of the best boutique hotels for business travelers. Here are a few exceptional examples around the world.

The Upper House opened just two years ago, and it quickly became the hottest ticket in Hong Kong, which is quite an accomplishment for such a crowded local hotel market. The design throughout the building (and in Chef Gray Kunz’ restaurant, Café Gray Deluxe) seamlessly integrates minimalist Asian architecture with modern touches like iPad check-in and iPod Touch in-room information, making this bright aerie perched on the top floors of the JW Marriott building a calming retreat from the city. The large studio-style rooms start at 730 square feet and go up to the 1,960 square feet penthouse, making the Upper House particularly comfortable for long-term stays.

Travelers doing business in New York may have to stay in midtown, but they no longer have to elbow past tourists crowding Times Square. Since the opening of the Chatwal, the Stanford White-designed building has been packed with guests, celebrities, and locals there to enjoy Geoffrey Zakarian’s Lambs Club restaurant and the Lambs Club bar, recalling the elegance of the 1930s-era theatre crowd who once made the bar famous. With just 83 rooms and two suites (the Barrymore and the Stanford White) the atmosphere is intimate and plush, and conveniently located to the heart of the city.

Even in cities not traditionally known for their cutting-edge style, the boutique hotel trend is making inroads. Las Alcobas in Mexico City is designed by Yabu Pushelberg, the New York-based design duo responsible for numerous boutiques, residences, and hotels like the W Times Square and the St. Regis in San Francisco, the intimate 35-room property is located in Polanco, one of the city’s major business districts, and offers business-friendly amenities like their “Second Home Service,” which provides repeat guests with a personal wardrobe to store their own belongings, and includes cleaning, pressing, laundering, garment repair, and restocking of favorite toiletries.

While the Chateau Marmont is arguably the original boutique hotel on the left coast, the SLS Beverly Hills is making a bid for dominance in the modern era, with its riot of Philippe Starck design touches, Jose Andres restaurant (The Bazaar, warmly welcomed to Los Angeles in its own right) and prime location near the Beverly Center, all kinds of recreation, and numerous corporate headquarters. The 24-hour business center is fully equipped with 24-hour support, office supplies and machinery, plus loaner Macbooks free of charge.

Seventy beautifully appointed rooms in the heart of the City are a surprisingly warm escape for those on business in London. Housed in a converted Victorian banking hall built in 1856, the beautiful period features of the Threadneedles Hotel are complemented by modern amenities like Frette sheets, iPod docking stations, and personalized business cards for use during your stay. Meeting rooms and private dining rooms are also available to guests — and what better way to follow up a full day’s work than a toast in the Champagne Lounge, under the building’s glass-domed ceiling.

DJ Jus-Ske’s Adidas All-In Asian Tour Diary

As a manager and partner at 4AM DJs, I’m constantly arranging for performances, events, and photo shoots around the world. Every day, I get reports back from my DJs filled with the kinds of wild adventures I rarely get to be a part of as a desk jockey. The people who flock to their stellar international events get to experience the end results of months of prep, but do they really know what a day in the life of a DJ is like? In this monthly column, you’ll hear first-hand accounts of DJ war stories, with photos and videos from the world’s best to show for it. In this 4AM DJ Tour Diary, you’ll read about DJ Jus-Ske‘s trip through Shanghai, Taiwan, and Hong Kong for the Adidas All-In Tour. Yours truly, Adam Alpert.

In May, I was given the opportunity to be a part of Adidas’ All-In Tour. The tour took place in Asia and lasted a week. I flew from NY and landed in Shanghai, where I had a car waiting for me. The hospitality from the guys at Adidas was tremendous. I was taken to my hotel, where I slept off a bit of jetlag before getting ready to start my week of events. I stayed at Puli Hotel while in Shanghai, and it was sick.

During my first day in Shanghai, I met up with my buddy, Kevin Poon, who owns a clothing company called Clot Inc. Kevin is deep in the fashion world in Asia, owning stores like Juice Shanghai and Juice Hong Kong, which I was able to check out while I was there. He’s also opening the WOAW pop-up store in Hong Kong, which will feature a bunch of luxury eyewear brands all in one store.

Kevin was extremely helpful during my entire stay in Asia. The day of my first show, we went through the event that was about to take place that night. Later that day, I went for sound check at the venue, Block 6, and after did a ton of press in the green room. Eventually, it was time for the main event. I was set to go on after Edison Chen, who is a huge actor and musician in China.

After doing sound check and press, I was ready to rock, but then I found out that the party was getting stalled due to overcrowding. The cops in Shanghai showed up to the venue because too many people were trying to get in. There were problems with fans forcing themselves past the barricades at the entrance because they were so excited for the event, but they ended up just getting the show postponed for three hours. During that time, I just chilled backstage and became cooler with Edison. He’s a great individual. The cops stalling the event only created more anticipation for the show we were about to put on.

Edison went on first and killed it for the crowd. After his performance, he was nice enough to introduce me to the crowd. Edison being such a huge celebrity in China really helped the crowd to accept me. By the end of my set, the crowd was totally into it. The show ended up being totally official, even though it was pushed back for a few hours. The next day I left for Hong Kong first thing in the morning. Hong Kong was where I spent most of my time during my trip. I was there for five days and I was able to travel around the city, go shopping, and eat traditional Hong Kong cuisine. I stayed at The Upper House, another sick hotel.

In Hong Kong, I met up with my business partner Daniel to talk about my sunglasses line, Illesteva. The first thing we did was meet up with my friend Gilbert, who owns the biggest club in Hong Kong, called Dragon-i. We all got dinner and then made our way to Dragon-i, which always brings out the best crowd in Hong Kong. The next day I went sight seeing around the city. I luckily had the best driver, Jonathan, who took me all around in a Mercedes minivan. He took us to the gold and electronic market and to some other shops, including Juice HK. Shopping in Hong Kong is crazy. I met back up with Kevin Poon and we eventually got dinner.

My second Adidas event took place during my third night in Hong Kong and the crowd was amazing. The event was held at the Ocean Terminal Rooftop. The next night Gilbert hosted a dinner party at his insane penthouse in the hills. It was great running into all my Tokyo and Hong Kong buddies who were there. After dinner we went back to Dragon I and then later to Volar with my Hong Kong fam. Later that night, we all met up at Hong Kong’s best late night spot, Tsuewah, for traditional Hong Kong cuisine.

The next day I had some meetings and then left for Taiwan for the third and final stop of the Adidas All-In Tour. I stayed at the W Taipei. It was my first time in Taiwan and I didn’t know what to expect. After I landed, I went straight to sound check, then I met up with my friend, Soda, and went to a traditional Thai barbeque spot. The food was on another level. What was so great about the show in Taiwan was the event was held in the biggest shopping center in the country at No. 8. That night I did the red carpet with Edison Chen and I was able to watch and enjoy the show before performing. The crowd in Taiwan was extremely hyped. After the show I went to check out my boy, DJ Vice, because it’s always good to see friends especially half way around the world. The next day we went around Taiwan and went to Eskuche, one of the most amazing stores I’ve ever seen. I also stopped at Juice Taiwan to go shopping. One of my favorite things about Taiwan was the culture and watching some of the dudes there break dance, I’ve never seen anything like it. From Taiwan, I flew back to Hong Kong where I finally caught my flight back to NY. The hospitality I received during my stay in Asia was incredible. Everyone went above and beyond. The Asian culture is completely different and my friends who live there were gracious enough to show me around and make me feel at home during my stay.