To appreciate art, you would normally have to make a trip to a museum or an art gallery. Living in a metropolis, such as Paris, New York or London, you are spoiled for choice when it comes to such institutions of course, but in developing parts of the world, like South East Asia, you’ll find fewer opportunities to enjoy fabulous art.
Or will you? There are actually more chances than you would think as many of the boutique hotels here in Thailand, and across the region, are veritable treasure troves of art… just have a look around your hotel!
If you are currently staying in one of the hotels mentioned on these pages, go down to reception and ask the management to point out works of art that are on the property; they will all have a story to tell. Some of this art is built into the design of the property, visible on a bold scale. Other items are smaller pieces, discreetly adorning the public areas of the hotel.
Here is Exotiq Thailand’s exhibition of hotel art; you may even recognize some of it where you are staying right now.
The Pavilions – Phuket
As a predominantly Buddhist nation, it won’t be a surprise to find a lot of hotel art in Thailand, involving images and sculptures of the Lord Buddha. At the Pavilions, Lord Buddha takes the centre stage immediately as you arrive on the resort’s driveway. Upon check-in, guests are then confronted with the Guardian of the lobby, an iconic elephant statue, appropriately garlanded and surrounded by other ornate pieces from Thailand.
Iniala Beach House – Phang Nga
All about art, this small luxury resort is crammed full of amazing pieces; there are so many of them here, that Iniala has its own art gallery. Take for example the fun packed acrylic on canvas Band of Sober – Efforts by Uji Handoko Eko Saputro, the stunning glass mosaic on a wooden panel Maitree’s Universe by Maitree Siriboon or Reclaim Paradise a three metre high aluminium piece by Entang Wiharso. Honestly, there is so much art at Iniala, it warrants an article of its own.
Indigo Pearl – Phuket
Part of the Design Hotels chain, Indigo Pearl has been inspired by Phuket’s past as a leading tin mining centre. Every detail on this property reflects rustic elements of the tin mining, industrial age. Much of the art is made from tin of course, but there are some unusual pieces such as the ravishing sapphire mounted stone.
sala ayutthaya – Ayutthaya
For reasons of branding, the operators of this boutique hotel insist that it is spelt using lower case lettering only! This little eccentricity is totally consistent with this unusual property. Not only does it boast a dedicated art gallery but also, from an architectural point of view, you’ll experience an amazing red brick corridor, reminiscent of the approach to Lost City in Petra, Jordan.
Le Méridien – Chiang Rai
Le Méridien chain of hotels, which is part of Starwood, has incorporated art into their very arrival experience. They call it high-impact arrival artwork as guests walk through a virtual curtain of art, which will open their minds to a new way of seeing things. Here in Chiang Rai, the arrival art is a reproduction of a Ralph Gibson piece: MJ in Sardinia, emblazoned below the hotel’s porte-cochere.
Le Méridien – Bangkok
At Le Méridien Bangkok, the hotel carries a unique identity that shines sharply as you walk through the lobby and witness the Man with Poodle also by artist Ralph Gibson. This two-story work of glass art is vividly accentuated by daytime lighting and softly illuminated by the glowing neon of the night-time streets.
MA DU ZI – Bangkok
Step behind the entrance cast bronze-aluminium lattice mural at Bangkok’s MA DU ZI and you’ll know you’re in for an art treat. Each floor at this boutique hotel features a different dome design by Nuraya Mahani, who is a famous ceramic designer. Adopting modern design elements into the traditional Thai ceramic art of Benjarong, one of the distinct features of her work is the use of glazes, in which she applies up to 15 colours in one piece, where only 3, 5 or 8 colour glazes are used traditionally. Her exquisite ceramic works can be found on the hotel’s dinner plates.
Siam Kempinski – Bangkok
Splendour and grandeur await you at the Siam Kempinski. The hotel stands on land rich in Thai history. The grounds surrounding the hotel used to be part of King Mongkut’s Summer Palace, the Sra Pathum Palace (Lotus Pond Palace). King Mongkut is also known as Rama IV, and depicted in the Hollywood epic The King and I. The hotel’s heritage is well illustrated in the private dining area in Sra Bua by Kiin Kiin.
The Siam – Bangkok
An urban retreat on the banks of the Chao Praya River, the Siam was designed by Bill Bensley with art deco in mind. However, an equally dominant feeling is one of antiquity rather than the 1920s, as the hotel displays many examples of ancient art. Amongst the many priceless works of art here is a 2,000-year-old terracotta chariot from Han Dynasty in China.
Hotel Muse – Bangkok
The period credentials of The Siam may be quite varied but there is no doubt which era The Muse is inspired by. Every facet of this hotel has been lovingly designed and decorated to reflect the roaring twenties of 1920s New York. The Speakeasy atmosphere of Brooklyn comes alive in the Hotel’s Medici Kitchen and Bar, even down to the cast-iron arches which reflect the girders on the Brooklyn Bridge.
W – Bangkok
Just across town and by complete contrast, you can stay in the ultra-modern W Hotel. Here modern artistic inspiration hits you on every surface: the walls, the reception area, hanging from the ceiling and around the bars. Check out the vibrant Tuk Tuk Couture consisting of hundreds of lights from the city’s most loved form of transport.
Four Seasons – Koh Samui
The Fours Seasons has been gracing the shores of Koh Samui for a few years now, but what is brand new is the stunning development of their beachfront area. The centrepiece of this is CoCoRum, a cool chill-out hangout on the beach. You’ll want to take a golf buggy down the steep hill to get to it, but once you are there, you are hit by a giant wave! Measuring 14 meters long and 4 meters tall, the diamond shape pattern has fibre optic lights with different patterns/mood settings.
The Point Yamu by COMO – Phuket
To the Chinese goldfish have become a symbol of surplus and wealth; giving a goldfish as a gift is seen as a blessing in the hope of good fortune. At the Nahmyaa Restaurant, you’ll find two of the walls are decorated with a pair of giant mosaic goldfish, made up of thousands of tiny tiles. Another wall is created using little wooden chips, which together create a fish scale effect. To continue the fish theme, the hanging lighting uses glass spheres as covers, which are intended to resemble little fish tanks suspended in mid-air.
SALA Samui Resort – Koh Samui
Staying at the tranquil SALA Samui, the overriding mood is one of minimalism and calm. However, once you spend a few hours here, you’ll realise that a tribe of little bronze people are also occupying the hotel. Adopting various poses, synonymous with Thailand, the bronzes blend in beautifully with the surrounding tranquillity.
Angsana – Phuket
The main restaurant area of Phuket’s Angsana Resort has used the medium of ceramic tiles to create its artwork. This is a collaborative piece of an Australian artist Christopher Hogan teaming up with guests and local staff to create a 14 square metre mural consisting of 350, predominately purple, tiles. They call it tiles of dreams.
W Retreat – Koh Samui
With the aim of bringing some New York energy to Thailand’s island paradise, W Retreat Koh Samui commissioned famous New York street artist Alec Monopoly to create a world first for W Hotels; a permanent art installation. His multicoloured graffiti piece decorates the hotel lobby welcoming the guests with a collage of pop-art elements and adding a splash of colour to the azure ocean and lush green garden landscapes surrounding the hotel.