4 Art-Centric Hotels to Book This Year

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A model room at the soon-to-open Hotel 50 Bowery in New York.
A model room at the soon-to-open Hotel 50 Bowery in New York.

History and culture collide at these art-centric hotels in the U.S., Asia and France.

A China State of Mind
A celebration of Chinatown’s past, present and future, the December opening of Hotel 50 Bowery marks Joie de Vivre Hotels’ first property in New York City. As with all Joie de Vivre Hotels, the new 229-guestroom, four-star upper upscale property will reflect its locale through design, experiences and amenities. Think original artwork by local artists and museum archive photos in guestrooms, plus three Asian-inspired culinary concepts by celebrity chef Dale Talde and his partners at Three Kings Restaurant Group, including Rice & Gold, a 220-seat, contemporary Asian restaurant located on the lobby level; Goldie’s, a cellar-level lounge serving dim-sum-style bites with live entertainment inspired by its opium-den theme; and 21@50, a rooftop bar on the 21st floor featuring sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline. I sat down with Hotel 50 Bowery’s general manager Karin Kopano, and director of sales and marketing Deirdre Yack at The Hall South Beach for a preview of what’s to come.

“[Hotel 50 Bowery] carries the soul of the neighborhood,” said Yack. It’s a dream come true for the third generation Chinese American owners, “their gift back to Chinatown.” That soul even extends into the textures and materials used in the interior design. Laying out a display case filled with glass, wood and fabric samples, Yack and Kopano gave me a taste of some of the components Wimberly Interiors chose to employ in Hotel 50 Bowery, such as exposed brick, poured concrete and Asian-influenced furniture in the lobby; large, bold artwork from a Beijing-based graffiti artist, Dake Wong, in the guestroom corridors; and guestrooms’ blue-and-white hand-plastered headboard wall inspired by the colors used in traditional chinaware—a unique touch as no two headboards are alike. All rooms above the ninth floor offer breathtaking views of lower Manhattan and its iconic skyline, as does the rooftop terrace lounge and the second floor outdoor terrace where Yack suggests guests “read a book and catch some sun” during the day.

Adjacent to the 5,000-sq.-ft. Atlantic Garden on the 2nd floor is The Gallery, a permanent exhibit from the Museum of Chinese in America, showcasing many of the artifacts that were found on the hotel’s construction site. A colorful representation of the building’s history, which spans from the 1700s through the early 1900s, the relics highlight the building’s past lives as a tavern, gambling den, vaudeville theater and motion picture theater. And just in case you were wondering, the new-build hotel got its name from its’ location on Bowery Street, the oldest thoroughfare in Manhattan.

Hotel 50 Bowery is managed by international, multi-brand lifestyle company Commune Hotels & Resorts. Reservations are now being accepted for stays starting Dec. 1, 2016; grand opening rates start in the $200s to mid-$300s. Agents can save 25 percent off of the best available rates anytime after the hotel’s grand opening this December using the promo code TRAVELAGENT. In January and February 2017, Hotel 50 Bowery is offering complimentary upgrade to CityView Rooms with the same 25 percent discount off of the best available rate. For more information, visit 50bowery.com or jdvhotels.com/hotels/new-york/new-york-city-hotels/50-bowery.

The lobby at The James Chicago in Illinois. 
The lobby at The James Chicago in Illinois.

A Chi-Town Collaboration
The James Chicago, an art-focused hotel nestled in the heart this metropolis’ downtown neighborhood, has just unveiled the addition of a new public art installation, “Pace & Space,” created in partnership with Johalla Projects, a collective space for emerging and mid-career artists, and its director and founder Anna Cerniglia. Chicago-based artist, publisher, designer, and educator Alexander Valentine was commissioned to fashion an original installation for the hotel’s facade off the glamorous Magnificent Mile on Rush Street. This latest addition to the brand’s dedicated art program features two original artworks by Valentine displayed in over-sized exterior frames on the east-facing sidewalk by the open-air restaurant, The Patio. Valentine’s collages are comprised of vibrantly colored patterns that weave and intertwine with geometric shapes. The James’ dedicated art program first began at The James New York, when the hotel collaborated with artist Paul Wackers last February for a piece on the hotel’s 6th Avenue facade. Different installations will be rotated throughout the year at The James Chicago, which also features 297 modern guestrooms, a 24-hour fitness center and the David Burke’s Primehouse steakhouse. For a tour of the city, guests can rent complimentary PUBLIC bikes and visit the nearby Millennium Park and The Museum of Contemporary Art. Rates start at $279 in August. For more information, call (312) 337-1000 or visit jameshotels.com/chicago.

The exterior of Hotel Paris Bastille Boutet.
The exterior of Hotel Paris Bastille Boutet.

Industrial Chic Architecture in France
MGallery by Sofitel has opened the first five-star hotel in Eastern Paris—the latest move in AccorHotels’ expansion plans for the brand. Located in the city’s “hipster-approved” 11th district near shops, restaurants and beautiful public squares, the history of the 80-guestroom Hotel Paris Bastille Boutet dates back to 1926, when the building first housed a joinery workshop and then a chocolate factory known as Maison Boutet. As homage to the hotel’s industrial past, Hotel Paris Bastille Boutet made special efforts to renovate the building’s mosaics and Art Deco canopy. In addition, students from the Ecole Boulle advanced public school of fine arts and crafts and applied arts were selected to produce two signature suites for Hotel Paris Bastille Boutet. Amenities include the 1,600-sq.-ft. Decleor Spa featuring cocoa oil massages, a pool, a sauna, a hammam and a fitness room, and Le Bar du Boutet offering light fare, cocktails, detox juices and a selection of “Boutet” hot chocolates as a nod to the hotel’s past as a chocolate factory. Rates start at $220 per night. For more information, visit accorhotels.com/gb/hotel-A064-hotel-paris-bastille-boutet-mgallery-by-sofitel/index.shtml.

A guestroom at the new Hotel28 Myeongdong in Seoul, South Korea.
A guestroom at the new Hotel28 Myeongdong in Seoul, South Korea.

Cinematic Flair in South Korea
Hotel28 Myeongdong debuted last month in Seoul’s cinematic heartland, playing off the area’s rich film history both inside and out. The striking exterior of the new 83-guestroom hotel—the first Small Luxury Hotels of the World property in South Korea—features a contemporary design with sharp lines and a glass facade featuring around 200 LED bulbs designed to look like a movie screen. The interior features checkerboard floors and dramatic spotlights across the hotel. While staying at the hotel, there are many ways for guests to get their culture fix, whether they relax with a coffee in the hotel’s onsite cinema for a private screening of a classic Korean film or visit the hotel’s gallery. For a real treat, book Hotel28 Myeongdong’s signature Director’s Suite decked out in Hermes furniture. The hotel’s butler service is able to create bespoke tours of Seoul if guests are interested in exploring the area’s boutique-lined avenues, markets, vibrant bars and food scene; just make sure they save room at dinnertime for the oriental a la carte bites available at the onsite 3 Birds Trattoria. For a night cap, guests can head up to the secret garden rooftop bar, Bar Epilogue, for drinks and stunning views of the city’s skyline. Rates start at $157 per night dbl. For more information, visit slh.com/hotel28.