The term “graffiti” generally brings to mind images of building facades, walls, and subway cars scrawled with spray paint or markers. But hotels across the country are increasingly embracing street art as a design element that brings a unique personality to their properties.
“Creating a successful hotel has a lot to do with differentiation,” says Glenn Haussman, editor-in-chief of Hotel Interactive Network, a trade publication “Savvy consumers dislike the same old places and crave new experiences. Not only does this style of art make a great visual statement, but it helps forge relationships with the local community and is a great conversation starter for guests,” he adds. Let the conversation start with a slide show of these six hotels:
1697 Pacific Avenue, Venice Beach, CA 90291
The vibrant graffiti outside the front door of the Hotel Erwin welcomes guests to this boutique hotel (once a Best Western) on the boardwalk and sets their expectations for the contemporary romp they’ll experience inside. A relaxing, open-air rooftop with beach views serves as the hotel’s living room. The art work — painted by Norm, a well-known artist with “street cred” — has enhanced the hotel’s connection to the community. Graffiti photographs also decorate guest rooms and corridors. The Hotel is one of the founders of the popular Venice Art Crawl held on the third Thursday of each month that, of course, includes graffiti art.
5 Avenue of the Arts, Providence, Rhode Island
Located in the heart of downtown Providence (next to The VETS, which hosts the philharmonic and the opera), this neoclassic hotel was originally built as a Masonic Temple. When construction was halted during the Great Depression, the building was abandoned. The structure, mostly a shell with only a partial floor, remained vacant for 75 years. During that time, street artists and creative types (some local students at the Rhode Island School of Design) covered it inside and out with graffiti. One artist named Juner painted the word “Temple of Junerism” on the wall facing I-95. When Marriott purchased the building, they brought the outside art in by placing photographs of the original graffiti in each bathroom. They also found Juner and had him paint the word “temple” on the hotel’s restaurant wall with his personal tag.
1800 Sutter Street, San Francisco, California
The lobby and guest rooms in this recently renovated hotel in Japantown display futuristic wall murals by Tokyo-based artist/designed Heisuke Kitazawa (nicknamed PCP). Inspired by a blend of pop-culture and street art, the walls lend a young, playful atmosphere to the hotel, which is complemented by plush cartoon toys and comic books.
636 South Michigan Ave, Chicago, Illinois
This beaux-arts classic, which recently that celebrated its 100th birthday, seems like an unlikely showcase for graffiti art. The hotel has a unique Art Hall on the fifth floor with rotating exhibits from local artists. One recent show, Outlaw, featured graffiti art of iconic 1920s gangster scenes. A painting of Al Capone by Brooklyn-based graffiti artist Kaves commemorates the hotel’s long-time mobster/gangster history. The legendary gangster got his hair cut at the hotel and purportedly stashed his booze there during Prohibition. The Blackstone also hosted a “Risk & Reward” pop art exhibit with vibrant comic book-inspired works by Erik DeBat.
3708 Las Vegas Boulevard South, Las Vegas, Nevada
Located in the Cosmopolitan hotel, Holsteins Shake and Buns is a hip, new burger joint that emphasizes fresh, natural, ad organic ingredients. The restaurant’s interior draws its inspiration from the graffiti art of local artist, KD Matteson, and includes wall murals as well as “graffiti stained” windows. A few smaller pieces are by a Vegas local, Baldomiro. The design team wanted something different than standard wall coverings or pictures and decided that graffiti complemented their neon-hued heifer logo and eccentric menu.
Palo Alto, California, 425 High Street, Palo Alto, California
This sleek, contemporary 42-room boutique hotel has made provisions for the graffiti artists among us. Each guest room has a 12-foot floor-to-ceiling whiteboard wall, where guests can literally leave their mark, using dry erase markers. Some guests use the walls for brainstorming, and others for leaving instructions or thank yous for housekeeping staff. “A good percentage of the guests will write something only because they can,” quips General Manager Peter Friedman.
Have you visited other hotels that make use of graffiti art to enhance their image and decor?