Five-star hotels are great places for showing off art – spacious, well lit, with wall space galore. So it’s no surprise that some are home to striking and significant collections. We take a look at a few hotels in the region, from old historic properties to very new openings, where you can stay the night and get an eyeful of great art.
About: With its white façade, green shutters and wrought iron, the French colonial-style building that houses the Sofitel has been a Hanoi landmark since 1901.
Art: You know a hotel has cool stuff to show off when it hosts a tour of the premises twice every day. On the Sofitel’s tour (“Path of History”, 5pm and 6pm), a historian reveals classic artefacts from the original Metropole Hanoi, including photos of famous guests like Charlie Chaplin and Bill Clinton, and vintage room keys dating back more than 100 years.
Also: A tour highlight is delving underground to the hotel’s bomb shelter, which protected visitors like Joan Baez and Jane Fonda from air raids during the US-Vietnam War. The bunker was sealed after the war, before being rediscovered during renovations in 2011.
About: The only Vietnam-based member of The Leading Hotels of the World, The Reverie opened in the heart of Ho Chi Minh City in 2005.
Art: There are some wow-inducing pieces of art in this property, including a ceiling installation of hand-blown Murano glass fashioned in the shape of Vietnam and accented by LED-lit Arabesque Egg chandeliers. There’s also a Bechstein grand piano dating to 1895 that has been transformed into art with the addition of a mosaic veneer of malachite stone and chiselled bronze.
Also: As many as 17 different Italian design houses collaborated on the interiors of The Reverie – so, the floors are covered in Italian Carrara marble, and there are 12,000 metres of exquisite fabric on the walls by famous Venetian manufacturer Rubelli. Oh, and a five-metre-long sofa made of purple ostrich leather in the lobby!
About: Opened in January 2020, Meliá is a nautical-themed luxury resort on Choeng Mon Beach, in the Thai island of Koh Samui.
Art: The resort is home to The Gallery, a not-for-profit social enterprise aimed at improving the lives of local communities. It sells home décor items made by Thai artists and designers – think ceramics, wooden boats, silks and more. All profits are used to support further artistic endeavours and preserve and promote local culture and areas in need.
Also: Meliá itself has some striking art installations, including one of boats in the foyer that appear to float on the floor’s surface. There’s also a series of large blue abstract artworks that reference the resort’s location by the beach.
About: Only a year old, Alma Resort is located beside the beach on Vietnam’s south central coast, not far from Nha Trang.
Art: You can leave Alma with more than just happy memories. How about a portrait of yourself, painted by a Vietnamese artist? The resort invites talented locals to come and craft artworks of its guests; you can choose between individual or family portraits, and black-and-white or full colour.
Also: Alma hosts artists-in-residence programmes in a bid to make art “more accessible” to travellers. At the Art Workshop, kids and adults alike can get tips on how to paint from renowned painters including Bui Van Quang, Ngo Dang Hiep and Lê Huynh.
About: Located in central Bali, Tanah Gajah Ubud was built as the private estate of noted Indonesian designer Hendra Hadiprana back in the ‘80s and repurposed as a resort in 2004. (It was known as the Chedi Club Ubud until it rebranded last year.)
Art: The property is an artistic tour de force, as it still houses the bulk of the late Hadiprana’s private art collection. This collection was built up over three decades and features dozens of Ganesh statues, vases from across Asia – some dating as far back as the 16th century – and over 100 paintings from Indonesian artists.
Also: In keeping with the hotel’s Ganesh artworks, statues of elephants can be found on plinths around the grounds, giving the place a spiritual and artistic vibe.
About: The 122-room Azerai La Residence in Hue, Vietnam, is an historic property built around a 90-year-old mansion (once home to the French Governor).
Art: Azerai has its own art gallery. Inside, you’ll find paintings of all 13 emperors from the Nguyen Dynasty – this is the dynasty that ruled Hue during its period as the country’s imperial capital from 1802 to 1945. The gallery is believed to be the only spot in Vietnam with portraits of all 13 emperors.
Also: The hotel itself is a welcome sight for art lovers, as it features a distinctive Art Moderne façade. (Art Moderne has been described as “Art Deco on steroids”!) Ten of the 122 rooms and suites at Azerai are housed in the original mansion.
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