Graffiti art bringing edgy personality to hotels

Published on: September 8, 2012 | Last Updated on July 30, 2018
A surfer walking past the Hotel Erwin in Venice Beach, CA.

Hotels are using graffiti art to shape their personalities. Here, a surfer walks past the Hotel Erwin in Venice Beach, CA.

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:

1) Hotel Erwin

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.

2) The Renaissance Providence

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.

3) Hotel Tomo

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.

4) The Renaissance Blackstone

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.

5) The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

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.

6) Hotel Keen

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?

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  • Reply
    September 12, 2012 at 12:55 pm

    What an interesting trend. I like the idea of a whiteboard in the one hotel. They need this on cruise ships where I leave post-it notes on the mirror with requests for the steward.

  • Reply
    September 12, 2012 at 8:11 pm

    I saw so much graffiti in France that I learned to tune it out. This is a clever way for urban innkeepers to draw attention to their hotels. I especially like the Rhode Island School of Design artists graffiti wall being brought inside.

  • Reply
    Jennifer Margulis
    September 13, 2012 at 5:11 am

    I’ve not heard of this trend before. Crazy! I wouldn’t think of graffiti and hotel in the same sentence. But these are places I’d like to check out!!

  • Reply
    Jane Boursaw
    September 13, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    I love graffiti art. And very cool photo plugin you’ve got!

  • Reply
    Kerry Dexter
    September 13, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    seems a creative way to make a lodging stand out — and a new version of hotel and artist co operation

  • Reply
    ruth pennebaker
    September 17, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    I love this. Any hotel that appreciates graffiti is my kind of hotel.

  • Reply
    September 20, 2012 at 2:30 am

    I haven’t heard of this trend–I like it. We’re actually putting chalkboard paint on one of my daughter’s bedroom walls so she can create her own graffiti.

  • Reply
    November 6, 2012 at 1:57 pm

    I think this is one of those trends that’s cool enough to be worth a mention, but I can’t see this making a big difference in convincing folks to come to your hotel.

  • Reply
    Samuel Jeffery
    December 10, 2012 at 11:45 am

    Travelling in Latin America gave me a greater appreciation of street art and graffiti. I wish more hotels and establishments would be open to using it to add character.

    • Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      December 10, 2012 at 2:57 pm

      I found the same to be true in Ecuador and Peru~
      Best, Irene

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