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Our little black book of enchanting places



Posted in HOTELS + VILLAS By Maggie O'Sullivan


Art is the new food, and hotels are the new galleries, as proud of their art collections as they are their chefs. We're not talking mass-produced prints chosen to go with the colour scheme. We’re talking original Picassos in the restaurant (Bellagio, Las Vegas), and restored Tiepelo ceilings in the hall (Ca’Sagredo Hotel, Venice). Here are six of our favourite art hotels.

Ballyfin, Count Laois

The five-star country house hotel in County Laois, southwest of Dublin, boasts an impressive collection of Irish art. Ancestral portraits hang above the grand staircase; paintings in the bedrooms and state rooms date from the 18th and 19th centuries. This lovely hotel also showcases modern Irish artists: the portrait in the bar, above, is by Brian Maguire; elsewhere there are works by Mainie Jellet, Ireland’s first Cubist painter, William Leech and Louis Le Brocquey.

Further information, 00353 57 875 5866; Ballyfin

art’otel Berlin City Center West

art’otel is a collection of seven hotels, each dedicated to a particular contemporary artist, with a permanent, museum-standard exhibition. The Berlin City Center West hotel is dedicated to Andy Warhol, with more than 200 signed prints, including his Mao series and his Marilyn portraits, above, as well as photographs by Christopher Makos, Warhol’s collaborator. Look out for London's first art’otel (artist to be announced), which opens in Hoxton soon.

Further information, 0049 030 887 7770; art'otel Berlin City Center West

The St Regis Singapore

The St Regis in Singapore is so proud of its extensive art collection that it offers guests half-hour curated tours. Among the 70 original art works are masterpieces not just by leading Singapore artists, including Cheong Soo Pieng, Georgette Chen and Chen Wen Hsi, but by some of the most important Western artists, too, including the Colombian sculptor Fernando Botero, above, and Joan Miró. Look out for the Picasso lithographs in the bar and, if you're lucky enough to stay in the Presidential Suite, you'll wake up with a Chagall.

Further information, 0065 6506 6888; The St Regis Singapore 

XVA Gallery, Hotel & Café

Most luxury hotels in Dubai have art galleries. But XVA is an art gallery with a hotel. Located in Dubai’s historical Al Fahidi neighbourhood, XVA specialises in works by contemporary Middle Eastern artists, both established and up-and-coming. The hotel has 13 rooms, each one with a different theme, and a café serving breakfast and lunch. No evening meals, but that’s hardly a hardship in a city packed with bars and restaurants.

Further information, 009714 353 5383; XVA Gallery, Hotel & Café 

Le Negresco, Nice

The Negresco has an art collection better than most museums, put together by its owner and art connoissur, Jeanne Augier. The collection includes a priceless portrait of King Louis IV by Hyacinthe Rigaud in the Versailles Lounge, above, sculptures by Niki de Saint-Phalle, as well as drawings and prints by Picasso, Dalí, Jean Cocteau and René Grunau, among many others. Guest rooms, meanwhile, are inspired by different periods of French art.

Further information, 0033 04 93 16 64 00; Le Negresco 

Mathias Hamel/Four Seasons

Four Seasons Hotel Florence

Most hotels curate their own art collections, but for a lucky few the art comes with the building. Or buildings, in the case of The Four Seasons Florence which comprises a 15th-century palazzo and a 16th-century convent. The hotel boasts a jaw-dropping number of beautifully restored frescoes by the likes of Vincenzo Meucci, Giovanni Domenico Ferretti and Baldassarre Franceschini. In the lobby there are bas-reliefs by Bertaldo de Giovanni, who tutored Michelangelo. Not all of the rooms have ceilings as fabulous as the Presidential Suite, pictured above, but the hotel’s magnificent public rooms ensure nobody misses out.

Further information, 0039 055 26261; Four Seasons Hotel Florence 

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