Contemporary collectors and preservationists Laura Lee Brown and Steven Wilson aimed to bui" />

5 properties that elevate the aesthetic of hotel art


Contemporary collectors and preservationists Laura Lee Brown and Steven Wilson aimed to build a hotel brand around 21st-century art when they founded 21c Museum Hotels in 2006. The art enthusiasts established the first outpost in Louisville, Kentucky, looking to bring world-class art to tourists and local communities. Since then, the pair has launched seven properties in cities throughout the South and Midwest, with the Durham location debuting in 2015. This 125-room hotel occupies downtown’s historic Hill Building, a 17-story Art Deco high-rise by renowned architects Shreve, Lamb & Harmon, also the talent behind the Empire State Building. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the structure was revamped to provide more than 10,000 square feet of space for rotating, curated exhibitions of global artwork and conceptual site-specific installations like Duke Riley’s mosaic made from cigarettes, titled “It Will Warm You Twice.” Beyond admiring the inspiring works peppered throughout the property, guests can dine at Jeff Seizer’s Counting House, a restaurant that combines local Southern cuisine with European techniques, and be pampered at the on-site spa. (21c Museum Hotel, $161-$710, 111 N. Corcoran St., Durham, North Carolina. 919-956-6700, www.21cmuseumhotels.com/durham)

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QR codes allow folks to learn about each work and its respective artist at The Edwin Hotel in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Courtesy of The Edwin

Credit: Lauren Rubinstein

QR codes allow folks to learn about each work and its respective artist at The Edwin Hotel in Chattanooga, Tennessee. 
Courtesy of The Edwin
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QR codes allow folks to learn about each work and its respective artist at The Edwin Hotel in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Courtesy of The Edwin

Credit: Lauren Rubinstein

Credit: Lauren Rubinstein

Chattanooga, Tennessee

Local art is the star at this waterfront hotel in downtown Chattanooga. The Edwin houses more than 75 pieces of art reflecting the Scenic City and Tennessee River Valley. QR codes provide details about the artwork and the artists. Located beside the pedestrian bridge, The Edwin is within walking distance to museums, the Tennessee Aquarium and the Bluff View Art District, a neighborhood centered around the arts. This 90-room luxury property has amenities ranging from Whitebird, a restaurant serving Appalachian-inspired fare, and Whiskey Thief, a cocktail bar dedicated to Tennessee’s signature spirit. Ama Spa, named after the Cherokee word for water, is a full-service wellness spa specializing in the indigenous peoples’ ritual of “going to water” to nourish, protect and heal. (The Edwin Hotel, $191-$331, 102 Walnut St., Chattanooga, Tennessee. 423-713-5900, www.theedwinhotel.com)

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Grand Bohemian Hotel in Mountain Brook, Alabama, houses the Kessler Collection’s largest art collection with 2,600 square feet of gallery space.
Courtesy of Grand Bohemian Hotel Mountain Brook

Credit: CHARLES BECK 2015

Grand Bohemian Hotel in Mountain Brook, Alabama, houses the Kessler Collection's largest art collection with 2,600 square feet of gallery space. 
Courtesy of Grand Bohemian Hotel Mountain Brook
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Grand Bohemian Hotel in Mountain Brook, Alabama, houses the Kessler Collection’s largest art collection with 2,600 square feet of gallery space.
Courtesy of Grand Bohemian Hotel Mountain Brook

Credit: CHARLES BECK 2015

Credit: CHARLES BECK 2015

Birmingham, Alabama

Part of Marriott’s luxury Autograph Collection brand, Kessler Collection hotels are known for their eclectic aesthetic and galleries chock full of curiosities. The Grand Bohemian Hotel Mountain Brook is located 5 miles south of downtown by the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, and its namesake art gallery is the Kessler Collection’s largest, with 2,600 square feet of exhibition space behind the hotel. On display are contemporary paintings, sculptures and jewelry crea