A century ago, hotels were simply places to sleep during your travels. Maybe there was a fancy bar in the lobby, or a nice pool. These days, an increased focus on younger travelers seeking unique cultural experiences means hotel public spaces are doubling as live music venues, social media nerve centers, and, in some cases, contemporary art galleries. The following properties give you extra bang for your buck by including some free visual stimulus built into the cost of your stay:
The Joule, TX
In Downtown Dallas, the recently-expanded Joule Hotel now boasts 161 guestrooms (including three luxury penthouses), a massive ESPA spa, a rooftop garden terrace, and eight new retail spaces. Perhaps most striking, however, is the hotel's art collection, which includes pieces by Richard Phillips, Andy Warhol, and Adam Fuss, and a spate of younger, new-on-the-scene artists. One of the hotel's latest additions is a 30-foot sculpture known as "Eye" by Tony Tasset, on view in a public lot across from the hotel. Rates from $287.20 per night.
21c Cincinnati, OH
Contemporary art isn't just a part of the decor at 21c Cincinnati – it's an intrinsic part of the hotel's philosophy. One of three 21c Museum properties in the U.S. (the other two are in Bentonville, AR and Louisville, KY), 21c Cincinnati holds a strong allure for art-lovers by sitting adjacent to the Contemporary Arts Center. However, inside the hotel itself are almost a dozen semi-permanent exhibitions, ranging from the psychedelic "Healing Tiles" to the interactive elevator artworks known as "Time Capsule." Ryan Wolfe's "Field of Grass" might just be our favorite; the site-specific work is located in the spa, and depicts individual blades of grass being blown in the breeze. Kind of the perfect mood to set on your way to get a massage, no? Rates from $279 per night.
The Quin, NY
Occupying a former Emery Roth-designed apartment building that was home to distinguished artists (Georgia O'Keefe, Marc Chagall), composers (Paderewski), and other notable artistic figures from the early 20th century, The Quin debuted as New York's newest art-focused boutique hotel back in November. Design-wise, the public spaces alone could be considered works of art. (There's a 22-karat gold-leaf ceiling and hand-blown glass chandeliers in the lobby.) But it's the hotel's arts program that gets the biggest reaction from museum-loving guests. This week, the Quin debuted a stunning new public exhibit curated by Magnum Photos, and featuring works by Burt Glinn, Erich Hartmann, Dennis Stock, and Elliott Erwitt. Rates from $349 per night.