New Destination for Art: Upscale Hotels

When the 73-room Beaumont Hotel opened its doors in London’s Mayfair district in 2014, it made an artistic statement so conspicuous that not even passers-by could disregard it. The building’s southernmost exterior is crowned by the British artist Antony Gormley’s inhabitable sculpture of a crouching man, which doubles as the property’s priciest and most conceptual suite.

But “ROOM,” the official name of Mr. Gormley’s sculpture, is only one element of a very deliberate artistic focus that the owners Jeremy King and Chris Corbin, two of London’s best-known restaurateurs, placed at the center of their concept, one that hinges on a fictional story that Mr. King created to establish a sense of place. Collected in a span of three years by Mr. King and his wife, Lauren Gurvich King, the art selection at the Beaumont works on two levels. “There is a simple decorative element that alludes to a particular period, but there is also a strong narrative,” Mr. King said. “Each work supports the back story I created about the New York hotelier Jimmy Beaumont who moved to London in the late ’20s to open his eponymous hotel.”

The art — a mix of more than 1,700 original paintings, photographs and prints that relate to places or people Jimmy would have known — serves to support the story and lend authenticity, the abiding buzzword today among hoteliers striving to offer guests an immersive and memorable experience. “If the art is not authentic when trying to create an atmosphere from a particular era, then you risk ending up with pastiche, when the intent is to celebrate the craftsmanship and creativity of the originals,” Mr. King said.

The Beaumont in London features Antony Gormley’s ROOM, a sculpture in the shape of a crouching man, which doubles as a suite.

Le Bristol in Paris, known for its classic 18th-century style with original works collected by the Oetker family, which owns the hotel, intends to draw those who love art but who may not be guests. In collaboration with Galerie Kamel Mennour, Daniel Buren created a pergola for Le Bristol that will be on view in the hotel’s garden through October, and the contemporary artist Hicham Berrada will illuminate the mirror screen in the Bar du Bristol with video installations.

Daniel Buren created a site-specific installation for Le Bristol Paris, titled 'Une Pause Colorée'

Integrating the scale of original artwork seen in the Beaumont or the Lanesborough is likely to exceed the budgets of most hoteliers, but those who can tell a story through such design considerations can enhance a guest’s experience.

Source: NY Times, AUG. 30, 2016