For many, one of the biggest draws of The Silo, Cape Town’s hottest new hotel opening, is the location itself: sitting above part of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa. When the museum, showcasing diverse modern art from throughout the continent, opens in September, guests of the hotel – which has a remodelled facade by Thomas Heatherwick, eclectic, opulent interiors and a collection of complementary contemporary African art of its own – can book in for guided tours. The museum’s founding collection is owned by Jochen Zeitz, who also has a selection of art on display at his own Kenyan property, Segera – part of Wilderness Retreats.
Of course, art as an intrinsic part of a hotel’s design is nothing new. Take Alex Vik, co-owner of Vik Retreats, who sees it as fundamental. “Originally, Playa Vik was intended to be our beach property; but since we’re rarely there we decided to make it larger and share it with the world. To live with art is important to us – we think it adds richness to life”, he explains. “It’s stimulating in so many ways: intellectually, emotionally and aesthetically; so it was a given that it would be an important part of the hotel’s design.”
Some of the artwork is wall-hung, but there are also site-specific installations and paintings directly onto the walls. Vik cites Casa Tierra, where the stucco walls in three of the rooms have been painted and sculpted by Eduardo Cardozo; a traditional painting of gauchos in the 1800s by Juan Manuel Blanes; and ‘Tall Glass’, an installation by James Turrell, as some of his favourites. “It’s mesmerising up-close, but it’s also like a lighthouse that can be seen above everything else, as it’s forever changing colour.”
Another example is The Siam in Bangkok, where the family owners’ private art and antiques collection is at the heart of the hotel. Curios and artefacts, from century-old images of Thailand’s royal family to priceless Neolithic pottery, are scattered throughout the villas and suites. The latest addition at the hotel is a new Vinyl Room based around the record collection of the late, world-renowned Dutch photographer, Hugh Van Es. As you’d expect, his images also line the walls.
Similarly, at Monteverdi Tuscany in Italy, a contemporary art gallery with an artist-in-residence programme is part of the offering, alongside sensitively restored villas, a hotel and spa. “Since pre-history, beauty and art have been transformational”, says founder Michael Cioffi. “Thus, I created Monteverdi to display beauty through many dimensions: the spectacular Tuscan landscape; the originality of Monteverdi’s design and architecture; fine arts such as painting, sculpture and music; and the culinary arts.” For Cioffi, having an art gallery was always part of the master plan. “I wouldn’t have built Monteverdi without a gallery. The arts inspire our guests and they are far happier than they would be without these experiences”, he concludes.
London-based freelance journalist Emma Love specialises in writing about interiors, design and travel for titles such as Elle Decoration and Condé Nast Traveller, where she is a contributing editor. She also writes for publications such as the Financial Times and the Guardian.