The transformative power of art in the world of exclusive hotels

Competition is at an all-time high in the hospitality sector and with home from home holidaymakers and luxury getaways for the older generation, boutique tree house lodges and comparison websites aplenty, the landscape has changed beyond all recognition over the last decade. In such a noisy marketplace, how can a quality hotel stand out?

Here Inex talks to Matisse Ghaddaf, Co-Founder of exclusive art consultancy Atkya, about the seductive power of art in boosting a hotel’s brand, guest loyalty and, potentially, even its profits.

In the 1970s, interior design was dominated by wood and earthy colours. In the 1980s it was all about symmetric shapes and soft furnishings. By the 1990s and noughties, minimalism was in vogue. But today the hot topic, without a doubt, is art – in all its many and wonderful forms.

Now, more than ever, hoteliers are recognising the importance of three key factors to the success of their businesses – attraction, staying power and brand loyalty – which above all else help to determine whether the coming year will be lean or plentiful.

The powerful connection between art and the hospitality sector
When Philippe Starck injected his usual flamboyant styling into one of Paris’ landmark Art Deco hotels, the Le Royal Monceau Raffles, he didn’t stop at luxurious island beds, mirrored walls and an unimaginable amount of leather and chrome. He recognised that to develop the unique personality of the hotel he needed the right statement art pieces.

That is why today the rooms contain enormous and vibrant contemporary works of art – many leaning against walls rather than being hung, illuminated by their own spotlighting. It is why restaurant walls contain a montage of black and white prints to balance the mix of new and old in this majestic pillared space. And it is why there is a herd of life-sized wooden moose in the stairwell. Beyond this, there are also numerous sculptures, glass installations and plenty of vintage objets d’art.


In TIME magazine, the hotel’s general manager described the refurbished and revitalised hotel as “a celebration of art de vivre that captures Paris and France”. To my mind, it’s a wonderful example of how art can attract a new and loyal client base and entice them to stay longer within its walls.

The role of art in developing a hotel’s own unique personality
The ‘McDonald’s effect’ of every branch being reassuringly familiar may work for fast food and some larger hotel chains, but for the most part it’s a hotel’s unique personality that draws in the customers, engages with them and keeps them coming back for more.

If you can tap into the emotional side of your target market, understand what they like, what they’re passionate about, what inspires them, then you have the building blocks of a successful customer attraction and retention strategy. Art can provide the creative soul of a hotel, it can enhance a guest’s experience, it can magnetically draw people to or through lobbies, receptions and corridors to where you want them to be, and it can encourage more social sharing; always useful in this day and age.


Social proof is an important driving factor in a world where new potential customers will go online to see what others think of a hotel before booking. This is an environment where extremes of the scale are all that matter. How many of us read the comments people put on review sites where they’ve given three stars out of five? Probably none. We’re naturally drawn to the fives and the ones, we want to see what people have loved or hated, uninterested in what they may have just ‘liked’. Art can accent, elevate, enhance and transform, forming more sophisticated, distinctive spaces, and, if done well, a collection formed for a hotel can become part of its brand image, feeding the passions of your guests, raising them from ‘like’ to ‘love’.

Interior design, staying power and guest spend
It is not always necessary to spend the $140m that the owners of the Le Royal Monceau Raffles lavished on its refurbishment to transform a hotel. Clever selection of the right artworks into a collection that is intelligently arranged, positioned and lit can work wonders.


But art has one more trick up its metaphorical sleeve because over and above its potential to attract new customers and retain their loyal custom year after year, art has a part to play in developing ‘staying power’. Depending on the style of the hotel and the clientele it attracts, if you masterfully create an intensely homely and comfortable ambience or an exciting and vibrant environment, you can encourage your guests to linger – to want to hang out in the bar and invite friends, to lounge in the lounging spaces and to dine in the restaurant. Entice them in, encourage them to stay and your guests will willingly buy more drinks, snacks, meals, desserts and anything else your hotel has to offer. The commercial benefits are clear.

What form of art works best in a hotel?
While on the face of it this may seem like an impossible question to answer, there is a reason why it’s important to ask it. Can we say categorically that canvas is more impactful than stone? No, of course not, because that depends on so many factors. However, it is evident from our experience working with many, many clients over the years, that variety is key.

Paintings, ceramics, tapestries, sculptures and other expressions of art may be created by different artists, but if carefully selected, can form a cohesive, impressive and impactful collection.


More important than the medium, though, is the need for a flagship piece for your collection, a display that will wow them, that will stamp the brand of your hotel on their subconscious. It matters not whether it’s a 10ft-tall painting in your vaulted reception or the statue you position in your grand dining room, the statement piece you choose will be the focal point of your entire collection and what most guests will remember above all else.

A final word
Art in the hotel sector has become so much more than simply decoration – it’s about branding, about creating an atmosphere and mood, about differentiating yourself from your competition and creating a connection between hotel and guest that entices them to return for more.

About the author:
Matisse Ghaddaf is Co-Founder of Atkya, an exclusive art consultancy that numbers royal families, ambassadors, Governments, corporations and many discerning individuals among its clientele. The consultancy’s artists work in numerous mediums, and they curate, create and design collections for clients across the globe.  



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