Art Hotels

by Mark Ellwood


Where: Jumeirah Essex House, New York

The draw: An art world makeover for a grand but fusty Manhattan mainstay

The scene: Swanky uptown gallery owners and hushed international financiers

Picture this: When Dubai-based operating company Jumeirah took over the storied 515-room mansion-style Essex House hotel on Central Park South in January 2006, it set out to recast the Old Lady as a chic young thing. It nixed existing eateries (expect to see new chefs later in the year) and dropped $70 million to renovate the rooms, which will now have multicolored mood lighting and an Art Deco–inflected vibe. But the shift in focus wasn't just linens and lights; the Essex House also hired its first in-house curator, Katherine Gass, to oversee a major artists-in-residence program. In essence, the hotel is commissioning boldfaced art-world names to create works for the main lobby. First up: Korean photographer Atta Kim, known for his long-exposure color photos, and American realist painter (and Hollywood favorite) Mark Innerst, who've both developed work inspired by Central Park that's currently on display (that's one of Kim's photos, pictured). Gass also got the Museum of the City of New York to loan a stash of archival photos of the park—dating to the mid-1800s—to display in the lobby. See, what's old becomes hip, yet again.

Jumeirah Essex House
Tel: 212 247 0300
Doubles from $589

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.



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