Monday, June 7, 2010

Art Series Hotels

Nicole Bittar for The Sydney Morning Herald Traveller immerses herself in the works of John Olsen at an Art Series hotel.

There's no escaping John Olsen. His vivid abstract paintings enthral at the State Theatre the night before our visit to the Olsen Hotel. At this fashionable South Yarra address, I am again surrounded by his distinctive landscapes – a willing captive for 24 hours.

The oversized Olsen mural in sunshine yellow attracts a pair of frightfully fashionable types at reception; this is, after all, the epicentre of the fashion capital. The newly established Le Louvre is right next door.

The $100 million Rothe Lowman-built Art Series hotel, which opened in February, houses 229 five-star suites.

In our deluxe studio room, floor-to-ceiling windows overlook the deep, paved balcony. It dwarfs the room, which has a small stone entry and side bathroom with rainmaker showerhead and blue LED lighting.

There are sand-coloured matte tiles, mirrored overhead cabinets in dark wood, a CaesarStone vanity with chrome fittings and a frosted glass door. Barely two months old, the square porcelain basin is already chipped.

Metallic silver lampshades beside the bed and a floor lamp, bed cushions and oversized ottoman dazzle – and there are three transparent Louis XVI chairs, a glass-top dining table, writer's bureau and 42-inch plasma TV.

The firm and comfortable king bed in quality white linen dominates the space. It's an Art Series signature, apparently.

The black-and-white Olsen mural on a frosted glass wall behind the bed works its magic. The effect at night is of being cocooned inside your very own Olsen painting. Two framed Olsen prints and a stack of art books, including Ricky Swallow and Yilpinji – Love Art & Ceremony, add visual interest.

The surprise element is the well-equipped kitchenette. It has a chrome microwave, a two-element hotplate with chrome pull-out rangehood, a chrome kettle and toaster. There's a plunger and complimentary Lavazza coffee and 24-hour room service from the ground-level Bluebottle Restaurant (named after an Olsen painting, of course). Ross Hill wines from Orange in Olsen's home state of NSW are quirky, with great depth of flavour. The Ganache top-deck chocolate from Toorak Road brings the mini-bar menu closer to home. It doesn't last long with my chocoholic husband and son on the case.

There are two fluffy robes, slippers, a safe and a large wardrobe with loads of shelf space.

A spiral staircase leads to a sundeck with potted agaves, silver wicker-style outdoor furniture and glass-topped tables. I bypass the day spa in favour of retail therapy in Chapel Street.

Visit The Sydney Morning Herald Traveller to read the full article.

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