Say what you will about the McDonald’s at the Louvre; only the most woefully jaded traveler could dismiss the great museums of Paris for their popularity, their conciliations to the crowds, their lack of exclusivity.
Wading into a pack of chin-scratching fellow-museum goers, for better or worse, is the small price you pay for standing in the presence of humanity’s crowning creative achievements.
And yet, there is another way. At a few Parisian hotels, it’s possible not only to view some world-class art, but also to live with it — at least for a privileged little while. In some cases the works on display are absolutely unmissable, as with the giant iron teapot in the courtyard of the Royal Monceau.
But there are also subtler interventions, like the Fabrice Hyber–designed no-smoking plaques at Hôtel Le A, artworks so seamlessly integrated that they could almost go unnoticed. And when that inevitable feeling of gallery fatigue sets in, there’s another pleasure you won’t find at the museum: a comfortable hotel bed to collapse into.
Amazing Paris Hotels
Le Royal Monceau – Raffles Paris
Contemporary artworks are everywhere at the Royal Monceau — in the dedicated “Art District” (an in-house gallery), throughout the public spaces, and best of all in the suites themselves. Highlights of the collection include a giant forged-iron teapot by Joana Vasconcelos in the hotel’s interior courtyard, and Nikolay Polissky’s life-size deer at the bottom of a grand spiral staircase. For those looking to take in more art beyond the hotel’s walls, a dedicated art concierge provides a weekly roundup of the city’s not-to-be-missed exhibitions, and can also arrange private tours. And for shoppers, the bookstore in the lobby carries an impressive selection of rare art books and limited-edition collectibles.
Hôtel Le A
When interior designer Frédéric Méniche was charged with renovating Hôtel Le A, he turned to his friend, artist Fabrice Hyber. Best known at the time for being the youngest artist to have received the Venice Biennale’s Golden Lion award, Hyber created original artworks for the hotel’s guest rooms, lobby lounge and bar. The result is a museum-worthy collection of over fifty works by one of France’s top contemporary artists. In addition to the original paintings, drawings, ceramics and tapestry decorating Hôtel Le A, all of the signage — room numbers, non-smoking plaques and even the hotel’s Eiffel Tower-inspired “A” logo — bears Hyber’s signature combination of humor and finesse.
At Hi Matic, Matali Crasset’s modular wooden furnishings and colorful Lego-like architecture comprise a look that’s about as wildly playful as hotel aesthetics can be. Best known for her furniture and product designs, Crasset is also a major presence on Paris’s contemporary art scene. Though Hi Matic is not a showcase for paintings or sculptures per se, a stay at this hotel feels like stepping inside the artist’s mind. Crasset conceived all aspects of the hotel, from the ryokan-style tatami-matted bedrooms to the automated “boutique” — a giant vending machine selling everything from toothbrushes to house-made music mixes. Though the artist’s work looks entirely unlike anyone else’s, a sprinkling of art and design books around the hotel provide some insight into Crasset’s eclectic creative influences, including the Alessi brothers to Marcel Wanders.
Mandarin Oriental Paris
It’s hard to imagine a better complement to the gleaming Art Déco Mandarin Oriental than the photographs of American photographer Man Ray, who spent most of his career in Paris, hobnobbing with the likes of Salvador Dalí, Jean Cocteau and Kiki de Montparnasse. Throughout the hotel, the photographer’s avant-garde imagery is used in unexpected ways. The deluxe suites feature a velvet-printed blow-up of an image of de Montparnasse posed next to an African mask (Black and White, 1926), while the hallways are decorated with a sensual silhouette (The Kiss, 1932). Those fortunate enough to stay in the Royal Mandarin suite will find a particularly decadent tribute to the surrealist photographer. The bedcover is ornamented with a beskope embroidery based on Man Ray’s photograph of her lover Lee Miller. The piece reportedly took the artisans at Maison Lesage over six hundred and fifty hours to create. Just a tip: if you order some wine to the room, you might want to stick to white.
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