Lots of hotels have impressive art collections, but these ones go a step further and function as stand-alone museums as well as accommodations.
Benesse House, Japan
The Tadao Ando-designed Benesse House is located on the tiny Japanese island of Naoshima, a fishing community turned “art island” that hosts the Setouchi Art Triennal and is home to several permanent art installations and excellent museums. Guests of the Benesse House are granted access to the museum even after typical hours and have exclusive access to a six-seat monorail that runs up to the hotel’s Oval annex. Guest rooms in the museum are available in four styles and are decorated with drawings, paintings, and prints from the artists on exhibit. Rates start at $330.
21C Museum Hotels, United States (various cities)
This boutique hotel company’s Cincinnati hotel was voted best hotel in the country by Condé Nast Traveler, and the chain, which began in Louisville, has another property in Bentonville, Arkansas. Five more hotels are in the works: construction is underway in Durham, North Carolina and Lexington, Kentucky, while Oklahoma City, Kansas City, and Nashville are all in development. So what’s the buzz about 21c? The company was founded by contemporary art collectors, and each of the museum hotels features rotating art exhibitions, site-specific installations, and regular cultural programming. The 21c Museum Hotel Cincinnati is next to the Contemporary Arts Center, whose docents lead free tours of both theirs and the 21c’s galleries. Rates in Cincinnati start at $259.
In the 1950s when Uruguayan artist Carlos Páez Vilaró began to build Casapueblo, just outside of the glitzy beach resort of Punta del Este, he intended it to be his summer home. The artist retreated deeper into the home following the trauma of his son’s experience in the infamous 1972 Andean plane crash, which formed the basis of the movie, Alive. Nowadays, though, the white stucco villa — built entirely without angles — houses a museum, hotel, and restaurant, not to mention a large collection of Vilaró’s colorful artwork.
Museum Art Hotel, New Zealand
Located in Wellington, the Museum Art Hotel holds more than 100 pieces of domestic and international art, collected by owner Chris Parkin. You’ll find paintings and sculptures at every turn, as well as a few of his limited edition MV Augusta motorcycles. The hotel actually first opened at a different site around 650 feet away. Then, twenty years ago, Parkin simply turned it into a railway carriage and rolled it into its new position. Rates start at $198, and the hotel also offers extended stays and apartments.