Many hotels today are abandoning bland match-the-bedspread wall décor in favor of interesting and original art. Many of these properties, dubbed "art hotels," showcase the work of one artist while others exhibit the work of many. Some pay homage to a particular genre and others focus on the design arts. Whatever the focus, each is unique. There are scads of art hotels around the world. Here are a few of our favorites.
AsiaNew Majestic Hotel, Singapore
The hotel's 30 rooms were designed by artists who created site-specific works for the hotel. In some rooms, disguised messages appear in the art work and can only be read when the guest is lying down on the bed or sitting in the bathtub. Some rooms are designed to make the guests feel like they are works of art on display, like the Mirror Room, which is covered with a continuous strip of mirrors encompassing wall and ceiling. Other rooms are less flashy and more evocative, like the Wayang Room, done in shades of deep red and old gold with calligraphy and Chinese lanterns. The hotel is in Singapore's Chinatown, Rooms start at $180, suites $500. For more information click here.
Reflections, Bangkok, Thailand
In each of the 30 rooms, a Thai designer has taken an idea and run wild with it. Room themes include "Living in a Garden", Thai High Society, Paris, and "The Secrets of Flowers." Art and furnishings reflect the themes of the rooms, and the overall feel is quirky, cheerful, and very kitschy. Bathrooms are small and basic. The hotel is in Soi Aree, north Bangkok. A five-minute walk brings you to a station on the SkyTrain network and a quick ride into Central Bangkok. Rooms for around $100 a night, for more information click here.
EuropeHotel Fox, Copenhagen, Denmark
Take 21 graffiti artists, graphic designers and assorted others of an artistic bent and give them free reign to redo a three-star hotel in Copenhagen. That's what Volkswagen did as a publicity stunt for its VW Fox. The result is a surprisingly comfortable hotel with wonderfully bizarre décor. The "King's Forest" room features life-size fairy tale figures, another pays tribute to Japanese comic art; friendly monsters, street art and secrets are the themes of some of the other rooms. The hotel offers free high-speed Internet, a bountiful breakfast buffet, room service, and a restaurant. All rooms are non-smoking. Doubles from $150. For more information, click here.
Hôtel du Petit Moulin, Paris
Located in the heart of Paris' Haut Marais, the hotel has décor dreamed up by designer Christian Lacroix. Drenched in color, the rooms feature a wild juxtaposition of whatever took Lacroix's fancy: wild florals harmonize with stripes, leather lives happily with linen, polka dot carpet works with ornate Venetian mirrors. Fashion sketches enliven many of the walls, and the rooms have flat-screen TVs and large baths. Breakfast only is served at the hotel but food can be ordered in from several local restaurants. Doubles from $400, for more information click here.
The Pavilion Hotel, London, England
This small and festive lodging in central London was created by brother and sister Danny and Noshi Karne as an "alternative to boring hotels." Room themes include the arts-and-crafts style "Green With Envy" room; "Honky Tonk Afro" is a tribute to the 1970s; and the "Indian Summer" room is a quirky interpretation of the majestic splendor of a Maharajah's palace. The place is popular with actors, musicians and pop stars, but even staid types will have a good time. The great prices -- rooms from $150 -- are offset a bit by the need to take a $30 cab ride to most London tourist sites, but there's a tube station five minutes away. For more information, click here.
Hotel Puerta América, Madrid, Spain
The brilliantly colored exterior of this stunning Madrid hotel was created by French superstar architect Jean Nouvel. Each floor is designed by a different artist. Iraqi-British avant-gardist Zaha Hadid created rooms that appear to be liquid and flowing. Eva Castro and Holger Kehne designed a science fiction-themed space on their floor, and Kathryn Findlay designed meditative rooms where guests can -- she claims -- listen to the wind. Javier Mariscal and Fernando Salas went for "good vibrations" with brilliant colors, zebra-striped walls, and huge flower prints. A fascinating place to stay, with all the services and amenities you'd expect from a fine hotel. Doubles from $365, for more information click here.
The Pelirocco, Brighton, England
Many of the rooms in this seaside hotel are designed to glorify rock 'n' roll, and all have liberal lashings of that funky 1950s and 60s aesthetic. You can stay in "Betty Page's Boudoir" or perhaps you'd prefer "Cissy Mo's Magic Garden" room. Boxing fans will want to check into the Ali room, a loving tribute to the King of the Ring. There's also a sumptuous "Love" room designed by Absolut Vodka and the Durex "Play Room," which the hotel describes as "burlesque, kitsch and sexy boudoir all rolled into one." There is a PlayStation console in every room, and for those who'd rather play at other games, a room service menu includes adult products. A great place for the young and the young at heart. Rooms start at about $100. For more information, click here.
North AmericaHotel des Arts, San Francisco
The hotel management chose a group of terrific contemporary artists and turned them loose to decorate the rooms. As you'd expect, room décor varies widely, from retina-searing skateboard-inspired graphics to delicate detailed renditions of Japanese mythology to installations that look as if another guest is sharing the room with you. The hotel, in San Francisco's Union Square area, is a work in progress, so not all rooms have been worked over by an artist. "Painted rooms" go for $119 for a double (and sometimes less) and need to be reserved by phone, you can't book them online. For more information, click here.
Hotel Max, Seattle
The Hotel Max showcases the work of 39 local Seattle artists and photographers, along with a handful of nationally known artists. The exteriors of each floor are devoted to the work of one photographer. Each room boasts an original painting and hip but comfy furnishings. Rooms are small and the décor is minimalist, with ivory walls offset by warm tones. If you fall in love with your room, you can take the whole thing home with you -- the bed, the art, the bathroom, the flat-screen LCD TV, in-room safe, desk, chair, foot stool, desk lamp, bed side lamp and end tables for a mere $50,000. The only drawback to the place is the $12 internet access fee. Such a hip hotel should have free wireless. Rates start at $200. For more info, click here
---Michelle DelioPhoto Credits: (1) Courtesy of New Majestic Hotel, The Hanging Bed Room; (2) Courtesy of Hotel Fox, Room 206. Designer: WK interact; (3) Courtesy of Hotel Puerta América; 12th Floor. Designer: Jean Nouvel; (4) Courtesy of Hotel des Arts;, Punkadelik Room. Designer: Antoine Merger.Favor sleeping in the world's most unique hotels? Check out: