Tag Archives: vacations

The Artistry of Art Hotels

I consider myself lucky in that I get to travel often, for both work and fun, and one of my favourite aspects of this is staying in hotels. Many of my friends complain about sleeping away from home but I love it; the opportunity to sprawl out in a king bed instead of sharing a cramped queen with my husband and three cats is definitely a contributing factor!

Photo: Springhill Suites

Even the cheaper chains are jumping on the design bandwagon by incorporating updated color schemes and swapping tacky oil paintings for hip photographs. Despite this, no matter where you go in the world, you basically know what to expect when you put the key card in the door. While this is comforting to some, I like rooms that display distinct personalities. Art hotels have taken this to a whole new level, elevating simple lodgings to cultural destinations.

I was first introduced to the concept when I moved to Louisville, Kentucky for school. Everyone kept telling me that I had to visit 21c Museum Hotel and as soon as I went, I knew why. This quirky place, filled with the signature red penguins designed by the Cracking Art Group, has an amazing collection of contemporary art in its lobby gallery. While the innovative exhibits change regularly, my favourite piece is Camille Utterback and Romy Achituv’s interactive video Text Rain, a permanent installation near the elevators.

Other businesses have made the rooms the galleries.  Toronto’s Gladstone Hotel may be the oldest operating hotel in the city but it is anything but traditional.

Map Room (Photo: Gladstone Hotel)

Each of the 37 rooms is designed by local artists, ranging from the calm and serene Map Room (designed by Michael Steele) to Cecilia Berkovic’s eye-popping Teen Queen Room. There really is room for every personality at this place!

Teen Queen Room (Photo: Gladstone Hotel)

Germany is a hotspot of contemporary art and hosts major events like the dOCUMENTA festival, held every five years in Kassel, and Berlin’s Biennale. I have never been to Berlin but I know where I will be staying when I finally get there: the Arte Luise Kunsthotel.

(Photo: Arte Luise Kunsthotel)

Like the Gladstone, the Kunsthotel’s 50 rooms are each designed by a different artist.  The designers receive 5% of their room’s profits and get a number of free nights. The Kunsthotel keeps things fresh by recommissioning the rooms every two to five years. I might have to book a different one each night to appreciate the full effect!

(Photo: Arte Luise Kunsthotel)

When I think of design, Denmark always comes to mind, so it is not surprising that Copenhagen has an Art Hotel. The Hotel Fox has 61 rooms, designed by 21 international artists.  I’m not sure the monster ordering occupants to sleep in Geneviève Gauckler’s Sleep Well Room would have the desired effect but I like the playful aspect of her design.

(Photo: Hotel Fox)

The ones that most remind me Denmark’s trademark aesthetic are the rooms designed by this country’s brand agency E-Types. Their rooms are simple and clean and feature text as the only decoration.

(Photo: Hotel Fox)

Art hotels add a whole new dimension to travel and certainly encourage occupants to spend a lot more time in their rooms. I’ve shared some of my favourites but I’d love to know- which rooms you would pick as your temporary abode?

Posted in Culture, Design, Travel | Tagged , ,

5 Ways to Go on Vacation in Your Own Backyard

via apartment therapy

Every summer we try and plan one big trip or a couple weekend excursions, but this year we’re trying to save up for a house, so we’re sticking close to home. I’ve been looking for ways to capture that “on vacation” feeling without spending a ton of cash. It can be tough to stay excited about a “staycation” when friends and family are going to exciting locales like Australia and Hawaii, but I think the trick is to pull out all the stops. Here are a couple ideas to keep you busy for the rest of the summer.

via babble

Create a Mini Waterpark

Spending the whole day in your bathing suit is an instant way to make you feel like you’re on vacation.  Water, a kiddie pool and a sprinkler are all you need to have an afternoon splashing away.  If you’re feeling really ambitious you could create a kiddie carwash like the one above.  Even if you don’t have kids, a backyard water park is a great idea, although you might get a few odd looks from your neighbors.

Eat out Every Night

Have all your meals outside, complete with table linens, candles, flowers and music. Even better, order takeout from your favourite restaurant so you don’t have to do the cooking.  A change of scenery from the dining room table will make every meal feel more special. For an extra restaurant-like experience you could even print up menus.

Raspberry Mojito via lapetitecoquin

Make Fancy Drinks

Does your idea of a great trip includes sipping Mojitos or Margaritas at ten o’clock in the morning? (okay maybe that’s too early, but you are on vacation) Then try making some fancy drinks at home!  Here’s a recipe for raspberry mojitos that sounds delish. Alternately, if you’re having a party you can set up an outdoor bar with a blender, fruit, booze, herbs, garnishes and ice and let your guests make up their own concoctions.


Set up a tent on the lawn, bring the flashlights, a stocked cooler and a guitar to spend the night under the stars in your own backyard. If you’re zoned to allow for fire pits you could even build a roaring campfire. The best part about this is that you are only steps away from a bathroom with running water, but still a safe distance away from the TV. For a truly authentic experience round up a few wild animals to keep things interesting (just kidding).

Garden Shed turned Guest House via House and Home

Create a  Backyard Summer Home

This is the best idea I’ve ever heard if you have a shed or garage that rarely gets used. Turn it into a backyard retreat, so you can head to the cottage on a moment’s notice.  Fill your seasonal home with rustic furniture, a place to sleep and maybe some books or boardgames. Set up an outdoor shower and you’ve got a mini-resort at your doorstep.

Posted in Design | Tagged , ,