Awesome Art Hotels

Artists and other creative types are having their way with hotel rooms—and they're thinking way outside the box.

Toronto
The Gladstone
Born into respectability as a boarding house run by a widow with 13 children, the 1889 Parkdale landmark eventually slid into poverty. Six years ago, the Zeidler family, including architect Eberhard and his daughter Christina, bought the building and renovated it. They kept the Victorian plaster moldings and wooden floors, but not much else. Christina, a film-and-video artist in her own right, commissioned local talents to design the 37 rooms, added film screenings, and set up temporary art exhibitions in the hallways.

Notable Rooms: In Faux Naturelle, Allyson Mitchell created a psychedelic fake-fur tapestry featuring nymphs. Snapshot, by Christina, plays with the idea of a forest growing out of furniture: A larger-than-life print of a nearby park aflame with autumn leaves is mounted above the headboard in a Plexi­glas frame and folded like an accordion. 1214 Queen St. W., 800/531-4635, gladstonehotel.com, from $185.

Copenhagen
Hotel Fox
In 2005, Volkswagen hired marketing firm Eventlabs to redo Copenhagen's Park Hotel for the launch of the car company's Fox model. Eventlabs held a contest to select not only the artists who would create the rooms, but also the hotel staff. Many of the winning concepts were from international creative firms whose designs mix slickness (honed through their work for Nike and MTV) with the aesthetics of graffiti and graphic novels.

Notable Rooms: Sleep Seasons, by Australian firm Rinzen, has a tent with a mattress inside; murals of the four seasons are on the walls. Monday (pictured), by Norwegian illustrator Kim Hiorthøy, isn't one for obsessive-compulsives. Jarmers Plads 3, 011-45/33-95-77-55, hotelfox.dk, from $217.

Paris
Hotel Amour
In 2006, graffiti artist and nightclub impresario André Saraiva--a.k.a. M. André--teamed up with businessmen Thierry Costes and Emmanuel Delavenne to open Hotel Amour, a 20-room hotel in the once-seedy Pigalle neighborhood. André enlisted his art-world friends, such as fashion photographer Terry Richardson, to design rooms that eschew televisions, minibars, and even phones--but they do have bedside iPod docks and Kiehl's products in the bathrooms.

Notable Rooms: Alexandre de Betak, the creative force behind Victoria's Secret fashion shows, designed Room 401 with a runway vibe: The 200 disco balls hanging from the ceiling make everything sparkle. Room 405, by M. André himself, boasts a floor-to-ceiling shelf of his line of (occasionally risqué) toys and figurines. 8 rue Navarin, 011-33/1-48-78-31-80, hotelamour.com, from $190.

San Francisco
Hotel des Arts
Manager Hero Nakatani hired local gallery owner John Doffing to curate Hotel des Arts' first exhibition in 2004 and then had Doffing find artists ranging from graffiti taggers to professional illustrators to redesign half of the hotel's 51 rooms; other curators took over from there. Paintings by emerging artists are exhibited in the hallways.

Notable Rooms: Jet Martinez was inspired by the imagery and colors of his native Mexico when he painted a modern fairy story--with a glittering moon and a silver- and gold-leaf forest full of frogs and flowers--on the walls of Room 208. In Room 411, by Dave Kinsey, a man's head and torso cover an entire corner, and tribal graphics are drawn on bedside tables and next to door locks. 447 Bush St., 800/956-4322, sfhoteldesarts.com, from $99.

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.
 

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