Picture The Scene

When it comes to hospitality, art can play a vital role in creating a memorable experience for guests


Art has the ability to transcend language, culture and time. It can evoke emotions, tell stories and inspire creativity. Some hotel brands have recognised the importance of art and integrated it into their guest experience in unique and innovative ways. Here, art is not just a decoration but a central theme. Each hotel collaborates with local artists to create site-specific art installations.

Getting under the skin

Art appeals to guests on a subconscious, psychological level. Studies have shown that exposure to art can reduce stress levels, increase positive emotions and improve overall wellbeing. When guests are surrounded by beautiful and thought-provoking pieces and installations, these can enhance their overall experience and leave a lasting impression. Art and human history go hand in hand. For centuries, humans have looked to art as a way to improve wellbeing and add character to the places we dwell in, with numerous studies proving that people feel better by simply being in the presence of something art related. Modern research has shown that viewing art reduces depression and anxiety while increasing feelings of love and empathy. In fact, according to work done by Prof Semir Zeki, a neurobiologist at the University College London, when we look at beautiful artwork, our brain reacts in a way similar to when we are in love.

Telling local stories

Art can also create a sense of place and identity. By incorporating local art into a hotel’s design and decor, guests feel a deeper connection to the local culture and history. It also creates a unique and distinctive brand identity for the hotel, setting it apart from its
competitors. Art crosses all divides, holding universal appeal to people from different social, cultural and political backgrounds. It also introduces us to new ideas and experiences we may never have witnessed before. For example, the Radisson RED V&A Waterfront hotel features Cameron Platter’s artwork throughout, from the lobby to the restaurant and even the tiling in the in-room showers. Platter’s vivid mixed-media works explore notions of excess and consumption through the lens of a South African identity. Across drawing, sculpture, painting and video, the artist’s extensive and diverse oeuvre is characterised by vibrant colours that evoke a playful feeling. He is interested in creating work that is provocative yet universally relatable, touching on themes of sex, beauty, politics and violence. Radisson RED Rosebank features work fro  Zanele Muholi, a South African visual activist and photographer. For over a decade they have documented black lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people’s lives in various townships in South Africa. The labours of love and visionary works adorn sections of the hotel, coming alive as people move in and out of the space. Bester l, a photograph dedicated to Muholi’s late mother, who was a domestic worker for most of their life, is juxtaposed with the kitchen area, where food is served by waitrons, a firm and telling testament to the activism Muholi speaks of in their work, underlining their political  stance and firm belief in the importance of black visibility. When a hotel showcases works by local creators, it both strengthens the local economy and builds community, deepening the viewer’s understanding and connection with the area around them.

Vivid experience

The interplay between art and hospitality is undeniable, and by integrating art into design, decor and overall guest experience, hotels are able to create a unique and engaging atmosphere. From site-specific art installations to live music performances and technology-driven experiences, art inspires creativity and celebrates local culture and history. Rendering the inside of a hotel more beautiful and turning its lobby into a cultural hub also goes beyond pure aesthetic appeal. Experiential travel is growing as a tourism trend, and tourists
are wanting to make special memories they can take back with them after a holiday. Art is an impactful memory maker and can help create meaningful, lasting impressions with guests. This rationale ties in with the commercial understanding that art is a business investment, with several case studies showing that hotels that invest in their art have higher capacity rates, more favourable guest reviews and more repeat customers. Lastly, artwork helps bring a brand to life. Displaying a certain style of artworks will serve as a compelling visual narrative, helping guests to immediately understand and connect with the zeitgeist of your space.

Text | Tim Cordon Photography | Stanislav71 Tim Cordon is Chief Operating Officer, Middle East and Africa, Radisson Hotel Group. For more information, go to radissonhotels.com.

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